Non-Star Players That Can Boost the Fortunes of the Toronto Maple Leafs

A look at players on the Leafs roster not named Matthews, Marner, Nylander, Tavares, and Rielly who will play a key role in the team's success for the coming season. The first is a power-forward looking to unleash his potential.
Toronto Maple Leafs v Boston Bruins - Game Five
Toronto Maple Leafs v Boston Bruins - Game Five / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages

The success of the Toronto Maple Leafs depends on their star players' performance. This is not a revelation. The postseason inconsistencies of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander are a big reason why the team is stuck in its seemingly never-ending Groundhog Day of early playoff exits.

Should the Toronto Maple Leafs break that trend, it will be the stars leading the way, but other players outside of the core will play key roles in the team's regular season and playoff success.

One such player is a former second-round draft pick who oozes potential. Matthew Knies has size, skill, and a willingness to compete.

The former Hobey Baker Award finalist from 2023 brings an all-around game that could make an already loaded group of Maple Leafs forwards even more dangerous.

Knies is the Power Forward the Toronto Maple Leafs Need

Knies has only played one complete season in the NHL but has displayed flashes of brilliance during that time. His rookie year was full of inconsistencies, not unexpected for a player getting used to the grind of an eighty-two-game regular season and coming from the comparably short NCAA schedule.

The ceiling is high for Knies. Despite his uneven play during his first season with the Leafs, there were many positives. He scored fifteen goals, with minimal time on the power play. All of his goals were scored at even strength.

He wasn't afraid to use his size against more experienced competition. He recorded 169 hits, averaging over two per game. Demonstrating awareness of the importance of a 200-foot game, his takeaways outnumbered his giveaways. (Stats courtesy of

A year-end scouting report shows the many strengths of his game. Extending plays along the wall and his effort/complete level are encouraging attributes for the Maple Leafs.

Comparing Knies to established stars elsewhere creates unfair expectations, but indicate his promise. Developing into a consistent, thirty-goal scorer with a physical presence that plays strong on both sides of the puck is within reach.

A Season of Opportunity Awaits For Knies

Further encouraging for the Leafs has been Knies play during the last two playoffs. His lack of experience has not prevented him from making an impact. Instead, he has demonstrated a style of play needed to be successful during the postseason.

The weaknesses of Knies' game come from inexperience and should be corrected over time. A breakdown of his faults shows his errors are subtle and come from overexuberance. Harnessing and using his effort correctly should come with increased familiarity with the pro game.

This season should see a natural uptick in Knies' progression. He is a natural, internal replacement for the loss of winger Tyler Bertuzzi, but with a higher ceiling. He is a better puck handler and playmaker than Bertuzzi.

New coach Craig Berube needs to give Knies more opportunities on special teams. He can provide a net-front presence like John Tavares. He is also an option to help the Maple Leafs anemic penalty-killing from a year ago.


Matthew Knies is just 21 years old (he doesn't turn 22 until October) and brings many elements the Toronto Maple Leafs need. Given the chance, he is a player outside the big names who can elevate the team's fortunes.