Toronto Maple Leafs: Marner, Kessel, Draft, Bozak


Leafs Nation are a passionate bunch! We wear our hearts on our sleeves and aren’t afraid to fight to make a point so it’s always an exciting time when a new trade rumor, free agent signing, or other Toronto Maple Leafs news hits the web. Every Monday morning, I’ll break down what’s “in the news” and give you my perspective. You know what they say about opinions. This is…


On Mitch Marner…

Just before 8pm Friday, the Leafs made their first pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, and to the surprise of almost nobody, took forward Mitchell Marner from the OHL’s London Knights. I have to be honest. I thought they were going to pick Boston College’s Noah Hanafin. There were reports earlier in the day that the Leafs had even interviewed Hanafin’s parents and that they were giving him a medical.

In the end, Marner was the obvious choice and we probably should have seen it coming. The Mark Hunter connection is strong; he has now drafted Marner TWICE. Once into the OHL and now to the pros. It’s obvious that he knows the player and his family very well and that was a very big reason for the pick. Marner is expected to play for the Knights once again and should dominate but he made it no secret that he wants to play in the NHL next season.

“That’s the goal for me,” said Marner. “And if I don’t, I’m coming back to a good (London Knights) organization. It’s all up to them.” (Toronto Star)

Marner is considered “small” at 5’11 and only 160 pounds but he has been an elite offensive player everywhere that he has played. Just looking at him, and listening to him speak, it is evident that he has some growing to do. Either way, he is destined to become an NHL star.

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On other Leafs Picks…

There were a lot of moans and groans about the lack of size in their other draft picks, but the general consensus was that Hunter made out like a bandit. Here’s the full list of the Leafs picks:

34. Travis Dermott, D, Erie Otters, 5-11, 197 pounds

61. Jeremy Bracco, RW, US U18, 5-9, 173 pounds

65. Andrew Nielson, D, Lethbridge Hurricanes. 6-2, 207 pounds

68. Martins Dzierkals, LW, Riga (Russia JR). 5-11, 169 pounds

95. Jesper Lindgren, D, MODO (Sweden JR). 5-11, 161 pounds

125. Dmytro Timashov, LW, Quebec Remparts. 5-9, 192 pounds

155. Stephen Desrocher, D, Oshawa Generals. 6-3, 198 pounds

185. Nikita Korostelev, RW, Sarnia Sting. 6-1, 195 pounds

There is some fine value in those picks. My personal favourite; getting forward Dmytro Timashov at 125. Timashov was the QMJHL’s Rookie of the Year this past season scoring 19 goals and 71 assists for 90 points in just 66 games for the Quebec Remparts. The 18-year old Ukrainian was supposed to go much earlier in the draft and the Leafs snapped him up with the 125th pick.

Timashov is a good buddy of Leaf prospect William Nylander and played with him on several teams while growing up in Sweden together. Check out this great article from Scott Wheeler of Pension Plan Puppets for more on Timashov.

On trades that we expected to happen…

Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf, Tyler Bozak, and Joffrey Lupul are all still Toronto Maple Leafs. In fact, the only rumor that seemed to have any steam at all was that the Pittsburgh Penguins are targeting Kessel. The Leafs are said to be interested in one of the Penguins’ prized young defencemen; either Olli Maatta or Derrick Pouliot.

Pittsburgh is not saying no but want the Leafs to take on one or both contracts of Rob Scuderi and Chris Kunitz. Both have two years left at $4 million per season.

According to Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun, it won’t be easy for the Leafs to trade any of these players.

Simmons on Kessel and Phaneuf: “The Leafs would like to move Kessel, who apparently wants to stay. And they want to keep captain Dion Phaneuf, who apparently wants to leave. And since Shanahan talked avidly about changing the culture and the leadership group of the club, not one player of consequence has been moved out yet. An alteration of management’s strategy has now become a work in progress and all bets are off about the roster being blown up before September.”

Mar 28, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs center Tyler Bozak (42) celebrates his tying goal in the third period against the Ottawa Senators at Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs beat the Senators 4-3 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Simmons on Bozak: “The market for Tyler Bozak, Kessel’s centre of choice, was non-existent. The Leafs did not receive a single phone call inquiring about Bozak’s availability.”

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman on Bozak: “Toronto looked at grabbing some draft picks for Tyler Bozak, but obviously didn’t. It terrifies me to write this, because if it changes I look like a doofus, but word after the draft was there’s a decent chance he starts next season with the Maple Leafs. That wasn’t likely at the end of the year.”

At this point, Lupul would be hard to even give away. It might be an option to move him at the deadline if he can have a healthy and productive upcoming season.

Is Shanahan panicking? If he is, he certainly isn’t showing it.

“If we have to come to camp, and we don’t have everything done that we wanted to get done, that’s fine as well,” Shanahan said on Saturday afternoon. “We have a great coach that we think, in a lot of ways, can help some of these guys.” (National Post)

With all due respect to Mr. Shanahan, I have to say without a doubt in my mind, that he is putting on his best poker face! I don’t believe that he or Babcock want Kessel anywhere near the Leaf dressing room this season. The new coach addressed the media Saturday afternoon and had this to say.

"“Anything (negative) that’s been going on, it’s going to be cleaned up,” the new coach promised on Saturday after weeks of immersing himself in what some have called a ‘poisoned’ team. “I told them straightforward, the No. 1 characteristic of being a Leaf is a good person, period. You don’t fit that, you’re not going to be here.” (Toronto Sun)"

He also added…

"“We’re going to look after each other and make this a safe place to play and to play hard. You can count on that. Right now, we’re not going to be the most talented group and I have no problem with that. But we’re going to walk with our heads held high. We’ll train that way, practise that way, eat that way, sleep that way. We’re going to be Maple Leafs.” (Toronto Sun)"

Now tell me something Leaf fans, and be honest. Does that sound like Phil Kessel to you?

On the trades that did happen…

The Leafs traded the pick they received from Nashville in the Franson/ Santorelli deal to the Philadelphia Flyers for the 29th and 61st overall picks. The Flyers used the pick to take bulldog-like Ottawa 67’s centre Travis Konecny.

The Leafs weren’t done there though. They flipped the 29th pick to the Columbus Blue Jackets for the 34th and 68th overall picks. Stay with me here. So basically, the trade was Konecny for Dermott, Bracco, and Dzierkals. I REALLY like Konecny and hope that the Leafs don’t end up regretting this. Out of their nine picks this weekend, they selected exactly ZERO centermen. That could come back to haunt them.

Mar 23, 2015; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Martin Marincin (85) and Winnipeg Jets forward Chris Thorburn (22) battle in front of goaltender Ben Scrivens (30) during the second period at Rexall Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Later in the day they made another deal, sending the 105th overall pick and the rights to recently departed winger Brad Ross to the Edmonton Oilers for 6’4 Slovakian defenseman Martin Marincin. No complaints on this one. Ross was never gonna play for the Leafs and he probably won’t play for the Oilers either. Marincin is 23 and already has NHL experience. Good deal any way you look at it.

On Zach Hyman…

The Leafs announced Tuesday that they have in fact signed Toronto’s Zach Hyman to a two-year entry-level contract. The 23-year old Hyman was the 2011 Canadian Junior Hockey League Player of the Year before heading to the University of Michigan.

He led the Big Ten division in scoring this past year and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award given to the top College player. The Leafs picked up Hyman last week in a trade for Greg McKegg, two months after he had informed the Florida Panthers that he wouldn’t be signing with them.

On other signings…

The Leafs also signed a pair of defenseman on Tuesday inking Petter Granberg and Tim Erixon to one-year deals. Erixon gets a one-way deal worth $600,000 and is expected to occupy one of the spots on the Leaf blue line next season while youngsters Granberg, Matt Finn, Viktor Loov, and Rinat Valiev continue to develop in the AHL.

On Leafs Regular Season Schedule…

The Leafs released their schedule for the upcoming 2015/16 this week. They start the season with their home opener on Wednesday, October 7 against the  Montreal Canadiens. Two nights later, they travel to Detroit to take on the Red Wings in Mike Babcock’s return to the city he called home for the past 10 years. Get the whole schedule here.

On Leafs Pre-Season Schedule..

The Leafs also released their 2015 preseason schedule on Tuesday. It features four home games and four on the road. Dates to mark on your calendar are October 2 when Mike Babcock returns to Detroit for the first time and September 29 when he makes his first appearance in Buffalo since choosing the Leafs over the Sabres.

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On 3 on 3 Overtime…

The NHL has announced that they will go to a 3 on 3 overtime format next season. Call me old-fashioned but I like the old rule. You know, the one where two teams played a hard 60 minute game. If it ends in a tie then so be it. Give them each a point. No three-point games. Every game is worth two points. No overtime at all.

No chance to get to the worst idea in years; the shootout. That was a bright idea wasn’t it? I’m surprised other major sports leagues didn’t follow suit. Jays and Yankees tied after 9? No problem. HOME RUN DERBY! Raptors and Bulls couldn’t solve it after 48 minutes? FREE THROWS OF COURSE!

Ok, I might be going a bit too far here but you get the point. I watch hockey to see a good game between the best players in the world. It’s painful to see a point given out to the winner of a carnival sideshow. 3 on 3 overtime is just expanding on that. Thumbs down!

If you have any questions or would like me to address any Leaf-related issues in a future edition of Leaf Points then you can email me at: or hit me up on Twitter @robb_ellis


Next: Kessel and Phaneuf Bonus Money Tying Up A Deal?

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