4 former Maple Leafs to follow during Stanley Cup Final

Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Seney
1 month ago
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The Florida Panthers host the Edmonton Oilers in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday night and for Maple Leafs fans, there’s going to be a ton of nostalgia laced throughout the series.
The Panthers and Oilers rosters have a number of former Maple Leafs, with some playing much bigger roles than others. It seems like the last few seasons have been tough on Leafs Nation with watching ex-players hoist Lord Stanley. Nazem Kadri, Tyler Bozak, Alex Steen, to even Michael Amadio last season in Vegas. Amadio, for the record, played three career games as a Leaf back in 2021-22 .
When it comes to the 2024 Stanley Cup Final, here’s four former Leafs to keep an eye:

Zach Hyman

The Maple Leafs acquired Hyman on June 19, 2015 in a trade with the Panthers for Greg McKegg. The Toronto native spent parts of six seasons in Toronto and famously left after the Leafs closed the door on him. Off to the Oilers he went, as Hyman has found himself in a major way in Edmonton and quickly became one of their core players. He’s been all over the media rounds lately, admitting he never wanted to leave Toronto and that it really wasn’t his decision.
Since joining the Oilers he’s found instant chemistry with Connor McDavid and company and this season found the back of the net on a regular basis, finishing with 54 goals. It’s been much of the same during the Oilers Cup run as Hyman is fifth on the team in scoring with 18 points in 18 games. If you haven’t watched much Oilers action of late, it’s the same ol’ Hyman. He’ll be hard on the forecheck, try to use his speed to the outside on the rush, and he’ll be living in front of the net the whole series. And, he’ll likely finish the series at close to a goal-a-game.

Connor Brown

It’s been a rough go for the most part for Brown this season as he completely lost his scoring touch and couldn’t find the back of the net to save his life. The gritty winger finished the regular season with just four goals and 12 points in 71 games.
This postseason however, has been a bit of a comeback story for Brown who is making a giant impact for Edmonton on their penalty kill, who are keeping power-plays off the score sheet 94% of the time. The best PK throughout the entire postseason. Brown has also chipped in with four points in his 12 appearances so far throughout the Cup run.
His game is still built on speed and hockey sense and he’s done a great job along with Mattias Janmark to kill penalties, seeing an average of 1:35 of ice-time a night shorthanded. While he’s not overly physical, Brown will be tough on the forecheck against Panthers defencemen and will try to use his smarts to be in the right position to pounce on turnovers and quickly turn it into offence.
Brown was a former Maple Leafs’ sixth-round pick from 2012 and spent parts of four seasons as a Leaf before being shipped off to the Ottawa Senators in a massive deal which included Toronto dumping Nikita Zaitsev and his expensive contract on the Sens. Brown has battled a knee injury for a few years now so it’s great to see him back healthy again doing what he does best.

Cody Ceci

Speaking of the multi-player trade with the Senators, Cody Ceci was a big part of what the Leafs got in return from Ottawa. Ceci unfortunately wasn’t able to contribute on a regular basis in Toronto and only spent the last 56 games of the 2019-20 season as a Leaf and eventually went on to sign with the Pittsburgh Penguins that next offseason.
Ceci recorded eight points in 56 games during his short tenure in Toronto and unfortunately for him, became a bit of a whipping boy among their defensive corps, much like Leafs fans have seen throughout the years with the Jake Gardiners and Justin Holls of the world.
Ceci has been inconsistent with the Oilers, and needs to keep his game simple to be effective. So far throughout the postseason he’s playing just under 20 minutes a night and over two minutes shorthanded. He’s scored a couple of big goals for the Oilers and the team hopes he has one more left in him against the Panthers.

Carter Verhaeghe

On the Panthers side, Carter Verhaeghe is one of their best forwards and has been lighting up the scoresheet throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs. After a 34-goal season and 72 points in 76 games, Verhaeghe has recorded 17 points in 17 games during the Panthers Cup run.
The Waterdown, ON native was a former third-round pick of the Leafs back in 2013 and is known as one of those ‘unknown’ prospects that got away. Verhaeghe only played in two games with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies and never got a sniff with the Maple Leafs. He was eventually traded in a package for Michael Grabner of the New York Islanders and once he found his footing in Florida in 2020-21, has been a productive top-six winger ever since. If the Panthers win and Verhaeghe goes off during the Final, there’s an outside chance he could win the Conn Smythe trophy.
Honorable mentions go out to Jack Campbell and Sam Carrick of the Oilers.

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