Maple Leafs News: The Calm Before the Storm

Call it the calm before the storm…

This lull in hockey news, especially in Toronto, won’t last long. With the NHL Entry Draft just a couple weeks away, it’s about to get very interesting. In the meantime here’s a look at current Toronto Maple Leafs news.

Maple Leafs News: The Calm Before the Storm

Forward Mark Arcobello has a deal inked with SC Bern of the Swiss league. The talented undersized utility piece saw time with both the Leafs and the Toronto Marlies last season, and played an important role in the the Marlies’ recent playoffs run, contributing 11 points in 15 games, as well as an impressive 59 points in 49 games with the Leafs’ AHL affiliate. Arcobello struggled to make his AHL success translate in the NHL, scoring just three goals and adding one assist in 20 games with the Leafs last season.

T.J. Brennan is reported to be looking at increased opportunities overseas, and has reportedly received an offer from a KHL club. Brennan received the Eddie Shore Award for the second consecutive year, as the AHL’s top scoring defenseman, and like his Maries teammate Arcobello, he has struggled mightily to replicate his dominance of the position at the game’s highest level.

Rumours and rumblings have the Leafs talking with veteran winger P.A. Parenteau’s agent regarding an extension. Parenteau was the Leafs’ leading scorer last year with 20 goals, and while coach Mike Babcock had nothing but good things to say about Parenteau’s performance, with so many veterans returning (Joffrey Lupul, Milan Michalek, Colin Greening, James van Riemsdyk), you have to wonder where the fit is. Logic would dictate that at least one of Lupul, Michalek and Greening will need to go in order to accommodate such an acquisition.

Parenteau’s veteran presence would certainly bring balance to what is likely to be a very young group with the possibility (likelihood) of William Nylander, Zach Hyman, Nikita Soshnikov, Connor Carrick, Mitch Marner, and one of Auston Matthews or Patrik Laine joining the ranks on a full time basis.

With the NHL Scouting Combine wrapping up, Leafs brass have had ample opportunity to form final thoughts on this year’s crop of potential draftees. William Nylander’s younger brother Alexander Nylander is projected to go somewhere between fourth and seventh overall, and fared exceptionally well at the combine, finishing top 15 in numerous categories including the dreaded Wingate Mean Power Output (7th), Wingate Peak Power Output (1st) and Bench Press (15th). Auston Matthews acquitted himself with a strong showing finishing top 12 or better in three categories related to power and agility.

While Laine presented himself as a supremely confident young man who believes himself to be the NHL’s best player in years to come, Matthews’ quiet confidence and thoughtful responses to a wide variety of questions left scouts, general managers and coaches thoroughly impressed with the off-ice component of their evaluations, as well as the game-time heroics. Their personas couldn’t appear more contrasting, giving cause to ponder if the Crosby-Ovechkin rivalry may one day be re-enacted by these two future stars.

In terms of Mitch Marner news, by season’s end he basically won everything there is to win, is the MVP of everything he could be MVP of, and is perhaps the most electric prospect the Leafs have drafted to date. With 301 points in just 184 OHL games with the London Knights, Marner has nothing left to prove at the junior level. Pending a summer of serious training, number 93 for the Knights should find himself under the regular tutelage of Mike Babcock come Autumn. A core group consisting of Morgan Rielly, Nylander, Marner, Matthews (likely), van Riemsdyk, and Nazem Kadri  could very well be the nucleus that puts the Maple Leafs on the map as a top NHL team. Ideally, another  top-pairing  defender and a top-10 calibre goalie would be added within the next twelve months. Chances are, the Leafs will have the opportunity to add that goalie piece via trade, as teams like Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Colorado make decision on which goalie to protect in the anticipated expansion draft.

This is certainly the calm before the storm. The June 24th entry draft will kick off a media storm in Toronto like none we have seen in previous years and Last Word on Sports will continue to follow up and report on these and other Leaf-related items as news breaks.


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