March 08 2016 02:15PM
Matt Hunwick is kind of like the NHL-level equivalent of a rent-a-player. He plays a lot, but mostly because he's willing to and physically can, not because he's exceptionally talented. Today, it was announced Hunwick was shut down for the rest of the season with a sports hernia injury. Frankly, Toronto might be better off without him.
There's a lot of things to like about Hunwick- he's an assistant captain, praised as a good leader by his teammates, and brings a veteran presence to a young team. But Hunwick might be the worst regular player on the team, and with the Leafs currently being at the bottom of the NHL standings, he's probably in consideration for the bottom few percentage points of NHL talent in the league. And yet, he's not just a regular - he's picked up the second most ice time on the team at 5v5 this year, less than only Morgan Rielly, his most common defensive partner.
With Hunwick out of the lineup, the Leafs lose a TOI monster. But looking at how the team performs without Hunwick, that might not be the worst thing for a team on a five-game slide. Of course, wins at this point don't matter much as the Leafs are draft lottery-bound, but from a purely statistical standpoint, Hunwick's absence makes the Leafs a far better hockey team.
March 07 2016 09:03PM
There has to be something possessed about the Leafs right now (and I'm not talking about holding onto the puck). The Leafs, starting the game off with a 2-0 lead against the Buffalo Sabres which they then moved up to a 3-1 lead right before the end of the second period, looked to be in the clear to snap their five-game losing streak.
But Buffalo fought back, forced overtime, and handed the Leafs their fifth consecutive one-goal loss (and seventh in nine games), albeit this time in a shootout. When it was all said and done, the Leafs were looking up at the scoreboard and seeing a 3 next to their name and a 4 next to Buffalo's.
March 02 2016 03:32PM
Morgan Rielly is a pretty good hockey player, as you probably know. One of the best young players in the game, you might say. Today, Rielly was named as part of North America's roster for the 2016 World Cup of hockey later this year.
(Players eligible for the team have to be born on or later than Sept. 18, 1992)
February 29 2016 09:00PM
The following question has often been posed this season: Would the Marlies beat the Leafs? Well, we'll likely never find that one out, but in the first big-league opportunity of a few of the team's brightest young stars, they weren't able to beat another NHL team as the Leafs fell 2-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning. It wasn't an overly exciting contest once it was all said and done, but the debut of six new Leafs in one game is always exciting.
February 29 2016 03:20PM
At the end of the day, the biggest move for the Leafs on deadline day wasn't a blockbuster trade, or even a minor one. Though the team made a few trades before deadline day, including one late last night, the Leafs remained inactive with other teams on the day of the deadline.
No, ultimately this game really only matters for the Leafs for one reason: the expected debut of six Leafs, led by 2014 first-round draft pick William Nylander.