4 Pleasant Surprises in the Toronto Maple Leafs Recent Winning Ways

Which players have really stepped up their game for the Leafs in recent weeks?

Jan 24, 2024; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Timothy Liljegren (37)
Jan 24, 2024; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Timothy Liljegren (37) / John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
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Ilya Samsonov

After struggling mightily out of the gate in the first couple of months of the season, Samsonov has been a revelation since returning from his minors stint after being put on waivers by the Leafs at the end of December.

With starter Joseph Woll out long term since early December, Samsonov has really picked up his game to help hold down the fort while waiting for his partner in crime to make it back to the big show.

Since returning to the team in mid-January, Samsonov has gone 8-2-0 with a solid .913 save percentage, while giving up just 22 goals over that 10-game stretch.

More importantly, he appears to have regained his confidence and swag seen from last season when he led the Leafs to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in over two decades. Without Samsonov, the Leafs wouldn’t be where they are right now, so kudos for his huge turnaround in-season.

Bobby McMann

How about that young gun Bobby McMann? What appeared to be just a peripheral piece of the puzzle for the Leafs entering the 2023-24 season, his recent play has clearly shown that the team may have found a diamond in the rough.

After spending the bulk of the season on the Leafs’ fourth line providing the much-needed energy spark with his grinding game, McMann has busted out in a huge way ever since his hat trick game against the St. Louis Blues back on February 13.

In the recent six-game winning streak, he has registered 7 goals and 3 assists, along with 17 bruising hits, while averaging just close to 12 minutes of ice time. He has also shown he could be more than just a fourth-line player, getting the chance to play with the big boys and not looking out of place as a result.

In total, McMann has 9 goals and 8 assists with 53 shots on goal while averaging a little less than 10 minutes of ice time in the 32 games he has played this season. With his sudden offensive explosion in recent weeks, along with his gritty style of play in full effect, he may have already answered one of the Leafs main needs for the upcoming trade deadline by emerging as the unexpected in-house solution for the team.