Photo credit:Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Nylander named NHL’s third star, Jones coming to Sweden, Abruzzese recognized: Maple Leafs News & Notes
By Alex Hobson3 months ago
There probably isn’t anybody on the Toronto Maple Leafs having more fun to start the season than William Nylander. You could have made a case for Auston Matthews after the first two goals of the season, but Nylander’s easily been their most consistent player through an up-and-down first month of the season. Everybody knows about the forward’s franchise-record-setting points streak to start the season, and he was rewarded for it further today after he was named the NHL’s third star of the week.
Nylander has taken yet another step forward in 2023-24, with ten goals and 22 points in 15 games so far, and he’s coming off of a stellar week that saw him pot four goals in four games along with seven points. While Matthews has had some more flashy games, his three hat-tricks on the season, for example, the Swede has been the driving force of their offence and a large part of their success so far.
His two-goal performance on Friday night against Calgary was highlight-reel worthy, not to overlook his assist on John Tavares’ goal later in the game, and his goal to open the game against Vancouver Saturday night was pretty as well. Everything he’s doing this season, and has continued to do since last season, supports his case of being included in the same breath as Matthews and Mitch Marner. At this point, it will be a miracle if Brad Treliving can get Nylander’s asking price under $10 million, but he should be taking every possible measure to get him re-upped regardless.
Sticking with the topic of stars of the week, prospect Nick Abruzzese had himself a week of his own for the Toronto Marlies, enough to earn him AHL third star of the week. After a relatively slow start to the season, the Maple Leafs’ fourth-round pick from 2019 absolutely popped off, scoring two goals and adding five assists for seven points in three games. The performance shoots him into third on the Marlies in scoring with 11 points in 12 games, behind only Alex Steeves, who’s leading the team with 14, and Nick Robertson, who’s not looking to return to the AHL anytime soon.
The Leafs all of a sudden have an abundance of prospects who are probably all worthy of regular NHL jobs, and Abruzzese is part of that list as are Robertson, Steeves, Pontus Holmberg, and Bobby McMann. Good problem to have, and certainly something that could help them in their pursuit of a defenceman. Everyone’s heard the chatter about Nikita Zadorov by now, and Abruzzese was the primary setup man for Flames prospect Matthew Coronato when the two were teammates at Harvard University. An interesting tidbit of information to keep an eye on.
We’ll end with a quick note about the Leafs’ upcoming trip to Sweden. Each team on the trip is permitted to carry three goalies in the event of an emergency, and the team announced that veteran Martin Jones would be the netminder filling that role. Some fans were hoping to see the Leafs choose Swedish prospect Dennis Hildeby, who’s coming off of two shutouts in a row and has some video game numbers in the AHL so far, but that might just be the reasoning behind leaving him in North America. The 22-year-old has been performing to the tune of a .950 save percentage (SV%) and a 1.26 goals-against-average (GAA). Might not be the best idea to take the kid to Sweden so he can ride the bench for two weeks.
The Leafs kick off their Swedish trip on Friday when they face the Minnesota Wild for a rare 2:00 pm Eastern time puckdrop.
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