4 Reasons for Early Optimism in the Toronto Maple Leafs Off-Season

Boston Bruins v Toronto Maple Leafs - Game Six
Boston Bruins v Toronto Maple Leafs - Game Six / Claus Andersen/GettyImages
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An Infusion of Young Talent

The Toronto Maple Leafs got a good look at some of their future stars this past season, and the future looks pretty good. 

We already knew from last year’s playoffs that Matthew Knies might be a special talent, and he confirmed that with a strong rookie campaign, putting up 15 goals and 35 points in 80 games.

Knies was even better in the playoffs, playing with confidence and physicality.  The sky’s the limit for this young power forward, as he seems to get better by the game, learning how to use his size, adjusting to the speed of the NHL, and figuring out how to best utilize the talents of his linemates.

Similar to Knies, we had already seen a glimpse of what goaltender Joseph Woll could bring to the table prior to last season.  In 2023-24, Woll got into 25 regular season games, plus 3 more in the playoffs, showing that he has the talent and mindset to be a #1 goalie in the NHL.  He has struggled with injuries, however, and must work to keep himself healthy in order to prove he’s able the handle the amount of playing time that comes with the starter’s role.

We also got a brief look at Fraser Minten last October, who made the Leafs roster out of training camp for a 4 game stint, before heading back to the WHL for more seasoning.  Minten held his own against NHL competition, and will have a good chance of sticking permanently with the big club this year.

Another junior star with a chance at playing at least some games next year is OHL regular season and playoff MVP, Easton Cowan of the London Knights.  Drafted 28th overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs last year, most observers were very surprised that Cowan went anywhere near that high.  But he’s silenced any and all critics with an outstanding campaign, and will push to make the roster of a team always needing cheap, talented players.

It’s possible we may also get our first NHL looks at Toronto Marlies players Topi Niemela (a right shot defenseman) and goalie Denis Hildeby, who backed up a couple of NHL games, but didn’t see any ice time.