The Toronto Maple Leafs started off the 2023-24 NHL season with a huge shot of young blood in their lineup when three rookies made the Opening Night roster.
Both Toronto Maple Leafs prospects Fraser Minten and Matthew Knies started together on the same line, while goaltender Joseph Woll began as the main backup for Ilya Samsonov to start the season.
Minten stood out for the Leafs in training camp, along with developing some chemistry and prospering on a line with Knies during preseason games. In the end, it helped earn him a spot with the big club to start the season.
In doing so, the Leafs traded away Sam Lafferty to the Vancouver Canucks to fit Minten in the lineup, and at the same time, save some cap space to allow them to field an extra body on their roster so that they didn’t need to go with the 20-man league minimum.
However, seven games now into the 2023-24 season, the Minten experiment is coming to a screeching halt .
Toronto Maple Leafs: The Fraser Minten Experiment Ends
Despite having a decent showing in his two-way game during the preseason, along with displaying some offensive potential with one goal, three assists and 16 shots on goal in six games played, Minten has failed to get on the scoresheet in four regular season games thus far in the NHL.
In addition, his CF% of 48.53% along with a SCF% of 44.44% in 5-on-5 situations were not exactly great, but the Leafs were getting more chances and dangerous chances when he was on the ice, which actually led to a positive expected goals rating. Overall, he has better numbers than many of his veteran teammates.
Minten has been a healthy scratch for the past three games, and coincidentally, the Leafs have won all three games since then. (All stats from naturalstattrick.com)
In these games, however, the Leafs haven’t been playing that well. In at least two of them, Joseph Woll was their sole reason for victory.
Still, three straight healthy scratches is not a good omen for anyone who thought he might stick around longer.
In the long run, the Leafs want Minten to further his growth and development in an environment in which he can play every day, so the current situation is definitely unfavorable for the young rookie.
As a result, we have seen the last of Minten in the NHL this season.
That doesn’t mean he has failed in the NHL. Given his immense talent and hockey IQ, he probably just wasn’t 100% ready just yet, so another year or two of development will definitely bring his game to another level.
At that time, that’s when he will be most effective and productive for the Leafs in helping them achieve further success.