The Toronto Maple Leafs started their preseason off with two back-to-back wins earlier this week, followed by another win on Friday night.
Preseason action has been the first taste of Toronto Maple Leafs hockey we’ve gotten after a long offseason. The buds are back on the ice and the city is hyped up more than ever before. Starting the preseason 3-0 is bringing a lot of excitement around our team, especially when it comes to the new guys in the locker room.
There is of course, John Tavares. The biggest signing during the offseason showed up in both games he played and scored two goals in each game. Everyone has noticed him and it’s safe to say he’s made quite the statement.
Other than John Tavares, one other player really stood out in his first game as a Maple Leaf. Tyler Ennis, who we signed late in the offseason, scored two goals in his debut playing on Auston Matthews wing. The fans loved him immediately and I personally think we could end up loving him even more. I really believe that signing Ennis could be the biggest bargain we got this year. Let’s take a look at why.
This Could Be His Year
Tyler Ennis has been through many ups and downs over the course of his career. In my piece on him from last month, I talked about how he was a promising young winger when he first entered the league. However, after a series of injuries, he couldn’t quite get back to the level he initially played at. But this doesn’t mean he turned into a bad player or his career fell off. The skill was always there, that’s for sure, he just needed to find the right fit.
Hopefully, the Toronto Maple Leafs can be just that. So far in his first game with the club, he looked excellent playing on Auston Matthews’ wing. Getting that chance to play with some elite linemates, which he didn’t have during his time in Minnesota and partially in Buffalo, really helped expose his solid skill level and ability to hold up in this fast-paced league.
We all know Nylander’s been locked out. His new contract has been going through a series of negotiations all summer long and as each day passes, it’s becoming more likely that he may have to sit a few games during the regular season.
But we may have found a capable replacement for that time period in Tyler Ennis. Now I know Nylander’s not an easy hole to just replace, but after watching Tyler Ennis in that game, he may have the skill to hold down the fort until Nylander’s back.
Playing on Matthews wing is one thing. He really seemed to make some great plays on that line and I think he can make some good contributions if he keeps playing with Matthews and Marleau. Ennis also was very effective with the puck in his own right. Did you see his first goal on Wednesday night? It may not have been against Ottawa’s starting goaltender, but that was a laser of a shot and something that really proves his skill.
At a time when we may need him most, Ennis could be the person we’re looking for. We may not have signed him for this purpose, but being Nylander’s temporary replacement may make this signing all the more worth it.
At an absolute steal of a contract, the Toronto Maple Leafs are getting Ennis’ services for just $650,000 this year. This low-risk signing could prove to pay off in the long run. Let’s see how he does Saturday night against the Buffalo Sabres.