Max Domi shrugged off a slow start becoming an impact player for the Maple Leafs

Photo credit:Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Seney
18 days ago
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Max Domi lived out his dream of playing for the Maple Leafs. After signing a one-year deal last summer Domi’s season did not start as planned. As time went on, he found opportunities to make an impact.
It took some time for him to find a role on the team as he was used mostly on the wing and couldn’t find consistent offense to start the year. The Toronto native registered just 11 assists in his first 21 games through the first two months and didn’t find the back of the net until December 2nd against the Boston Bruins. It was about this time when Domi started centering the team’s third line alongside Calle Jarnkrok and Nick Robertson, and as you could see from this clip, chemistry was mounting.
December was kind to Domi. It was one of his most productive months and he was doing a solid job at centre and earned some trust from Sheldon Keefe. After playing on the wing for the most part to start the season. Unfortunately, the start of 2024 was not as kind to the Leafs forward:
The numbers in January and February were ugly. With limited offensive production and things getting uglier on the defensive side of the puck, the coaching staff’s patience was wearing thin, and some nights Domi was hardly seeing 12 minutes of ice time a night. He wasn’t moving his feet without the puck, and Domi’s fit within the Maple Leafs’ lineup was being questioned. By the end of the season, Domi was back on track.
Everything changed for Domi when he was moved to the first line alongside Auston Matthews and Tyler Bertuzzi. The newfound top line quickly showed off chemistry, and creativity. Domi’s effort level was evident and the question shifted to whether should be extended in Toronto.
Domi finished the season with 17 points in his last 21 games. Although he needs to trust his finishing ability more, he was creating offence, and his facilitation skills were on full display.
Domi’s compete level is what stood out the most against the Bruins. He was as tenacious as ever. Sure, seeing only five hits in seven games doesn’t scream physicality, but there was a lot more to Domi’s game. His faceoff prowess also become one of his strong suits. After sitting at 50% on the button in the regular season in 452 draws, Domi elevated in the playoffs, winning a very impressive 67% of his faceoffs. Starting with the puck makes life much easier, especially in the playoffs where time and space is minimal and possession is vital. He was forechecking hard on pucks, he was battling along the boards, using his speed to get involved and especially when Matthews wasn’t able to dress later in the series, Domi quickly became the team’s first-line centre and for stretches, the team’s best player. Not bad for a $3 million player who wasn’t doing much to start the season.

Domi wants to remain a Maple Leaf

After signing a one-year deal last summer, it would make sense for Domi to look for some stability this offseason. From all accounts, he’s made it known to Brad Treliving and the rest of upper management, he’d like to remain a Maple Leaf.
From the sounds of it there is mutual interest from the organization. So far, speculation has brewed that it could take a contract around $5 million per season to get the job done, but at this point, it’s just speculation. Term will influence the average annual value and if Domi does indeed want to stick around, he may need to realize he’d be accepting less money to remain a Leaf than he would receive after hitting the free-agent market in July. The month of June will be a very interesting one to follow regarding his future in Toronto.
As management preached that everything was on the table at the end-of-year press conference, many have turned their attention to the team moving on Mitch Marner and acquiring a number one defenseman in the potential trade. If and a big IF at this point, Marner does get dealt, keeping Domi would be very wise. He’s cut from the same cloth when it comes to play-making abilities. You could tell how much fun they were having playing together and their chemistry was undeniable. Domi’s future isn’t directed related to moving on from Marner, but there’s certainly a little bit of influence to consider.
Domi’s tenure as a Maple Leaf may have started with a very forgettable the first couple of months of the season, but the veteran forward was able to find his feet and make a huge impact down the stretch. He quickly learned in the playoffs he needed to tune down his tenacity and by the end of the series, became one of the Maple Leafs best players. Domi played like he cares about being a Maple Leaf and that is a quality Treliving should be focused on returning to Toronto’s lineup next season, and beyond.

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