Photo credit:Steven Ellis/Daily Faceoff
Voit’s season done, Reaves skating, goaltending decisions, and Matthews a star: Leafs News and Notes
By Jon Steitzer1 month ago
As the Leafs get set for the start of the western road trip there have been a number of small pieces of news that have trickled into Leafs land today. Here’s the rundown of what has been going on.
Some bad news for a promising prospect, as Ty Voit will undergo season ending surgery as a result of injury in his Marlies debut.
Voit had an exciting season last year in the OHL and has athleticism has made him an intriguing prospect for the Maple Leafs. This is certainly a setback but hopefully one that Voit can overcome. We’ve seen the Leafs do a good job of encouraging players like Nick Robertson to stick around the club as much as possible and to develop in the capacity they can as well as remain a part of the team. It will be interesting to see what Toronto can do to make Voit ready to hit the ground running next training camp.
In better news, the NHL has named Auston Matthews the second star of the month (behind Nathan MacKinnon) for December. Scoring 15 goals in 12 games will do that and hopefully the hot streak hasn’t come to an end. Matthews currently has the league lead in goals and is currently on pace for a 70 goal season.
For the second day in a row Ryan Reaves has been on the ice for the Maple Leafs. Reaves was in the full practice yesterday and that is usually the benchmark that Sheldon Keefe looks for in order to bring players back into the lineup. The situation is a bit more complicated with Ryan Reaves because a healthy Reaves doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll play. Given that Toronto does have back-to-back games it is entirely possible he plays tomorrow night against the Ducks. That might be something that Leafs fans still angry at Radko Gudas might be looking forward to.
Activating Reaves would mean that someone needs to be sent down to the Marlies as Toronto would be exceeding the 23 player roster limit. The easy answer is Pontus Holmberg but with the Leafs carrying eight defencemen at the moment and Toronto potentially wanting a forward option beyond Reaves, the Leafs could be nearing the time they need to make a decision on the pecking order amongst Timmins, Lagesson, and Benoit.
What is likely at play here is a bit of gamesmanship. Sheldon Keefe likely knows that Dennis Hildeby will be his starter and is doing his best to spare the rookie having a bunch of microphones thrown in his face and creating an aggressive news cycle for the next day. This decision keeps the focus on tonight’s game against the Kings and that should be important enough for the struggling Maple Leafs.
That being said, if Keefe is being honest about that, he’s potentially setting the Leafs up for a bad time. Not only do goaltenders statistically not perform well in back-to-back game situations, Jones is the Leafs starter for the foreseeable future. Putting Jones at risk for injury or fatigue at the start of a potential 10 game stretch of starts isn’t ideal.
Count on seeing Hildeby against the Ducks.
Look, I know Jaycob Megna isn’t a great defensive option but given that there are a number of people who believe the path to the Leafs defensive salvation is going to come through a giant, physical, stay-at-home defender, I’ll mention that the 6’6 Megna is now available. Megna’s cost is actually below the league minimum (a la Bobby McMann) and he makes $762k. That’s some cost saving appeal right there. Beyond that, it really is all about the size and the hitting/shot blocking stuff. There isn’t some magical upside to the 31 year old and really everything you get from Megna, the Leafs are already getting from Simon Benoit. It just would be a matter of whether the Maple Leafs want to stock up on this archetype of defenceman. Megna hasn’t been able to find his way into the Kraken lineup this year, as their blueline has had a fortune run of health.
It’s unlikely the Leafs put in a claim and even if they did, 18 teams ahead of them have priority. It just seems notable that a bargain option was available in early January when a similar option could cost a draft pick closer to the trade deadline.
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