Sportsnet today released the first half of its annual Top 100 NHL player rankings, which might actually not be annual but we can’t be bothered to check. Three Leafs cracked the 100-51 list, with their write ups attached below. (Full/half list available here).
Morgan Rielly, #85
He has been a consistent strength on a blue line that has needed it throughout the Maple Leafs’ forward-thinking rebuild. Now the young veteran — hard to believe he’s only 24 — is coming off the most productive season of his career and is still barreling toward his prime at the best possible time.
Frederik Andersen, #67
Andersen has transitioned nicely from a 1A/1B situation in Anaheim to a 66-game workhorse in Toronto, posting a .918 save percentage in each season as a Leaf. The 28-year-old will again be required to mask the mistakes of a young run-and-gun outfit with legitimate Cup dreams. His .896 showing in Round 1’s exit to Boston, however, proves there’s another level he must reach.
Mitch Marner, #54
When John Tavares announced that he was signing with the Maple Leafs, Marner responded by tweeting a pair of excited eyes. It was fitting commentary from Marner, who has some of the best eyes in the league and led the Leafs with 47 assists as an NHL sophomore. Expect that tally to rise when Marner lines up alongside Tavares this fall.
Auston Matthews and John Tavares are the two Leafs most likely to crack the top 50, with it being unlikely that Nazem Kadri, Jake Gardiner, or William Nylander, three players who have always had their issues earning respect from the mainstream media, will make it into the upper echelon of the list. It’s also curious to see if Sportsnet excludes James van Riemsdyk, a player who potted 36 goals last season.
Also, Shea Weber and Duncan Keith made the list, which might kill all of its credibility completely.