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FTB: Leafs have too much grit, not enough hockey

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It’s time to correct the overcorrection.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Toronto Maple Leafs at Montreal Canadiens
May 29, 2021; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs center Joe Thornton (97) plays the puck in front of Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) during the third period in game six of the first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bell Centre.
Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

As the dust has settled, it appears the Toronto Maple Leafs are not going to overreact (or probably in this case just react) to yet another loss in the first round. The conclusion the team has reportedly come to is continue to tinker with the fringes and leave the “Core Four” intact.

Sportsnet reporter Chris Johnston has reported both on the Steve Dangle Podcast and The Athletic’s Leafs podcast that the Leafs think they’ve overcorrected on their push to augment the team with veteran presences and grit. Yes, they’re going back to that thing all you grumpy uncles hate.

I do agree with this assessment that there just weren’t enough actual contributors, actual goal scorers on this team last year. Thornton was never going to score. Simmonds stopped scoring after his injury. Riley Nash was never supposed to score. Nick Foligno was never supposed to score. When push came to shove, the Leafs had less than a handful of players who could actually put the puck in the net (Matthews, Nylander, Tavares, Spezza). This philosophy was carried on the power play; not enough guys to put the puck in the net.

This was the reason why I felt the Leafs needed Taylor Hall at the trade deadline, not Nick Foligno. This is why I think it’s important to get a big scorer this offseason. Let me be clear, this isn’t the only problem the Leafs have. The power play is still a shambles, they could do with an upgrade on defense, and the core is still problematic, but this is the area that has been repeated multiple times as the primary area of concern.

The Leafs aren’t going to go as far as I want them to, but they have at least identified the same issue and are intending on fixing it. I’ve said before that when Dubas sets his mind on making changes during the summer, he pulls through. I meant it regarding trading Mitch Marner, but it appears he’s kicked that can down the road for just one more block. That time is coming, but until then Dubas should be both willing and able to bring in some scoring this summer.

Who that is, I’m not sure. Mikael Granlund was rumoured to be a trade acquisition and is a free agent that might fit the role of 1LW. Fans seem to have their hearts set on Travis Konecny after CJ said the Leafs were eyeing a big fish from a non-playoff team. I have my heart on Sam Reinhart, though I’m seeing the tea leaves that won’t make it happen. Brock Boeser would be fun if the Canucks somehow think he’s a cap dump. I guess we have to wait and see.


Various Leafs and Branches

The Optimist/Pessimist Look At The Leafs. Spoiler alert, the pessimist wins. | by: Fulemin

Maple Leafs vs Carolina Hurricanes: comparing two playoff losers. Katya tries to find lessons in the Canes loss to Tampa Bay. | by: Katya

Suomela and Chyzowski sign with Marlies, several players leave. A look at the contracts and free agents on the Marlies roster. | by: Hardev

Among the Marlies news was the previous signing of forward prospect Alex Steeves from the WHL. Here is a feature done on him by a local paper, you’ll be shocked to hear speed, hockey sense, and hands among the descriptive words of his game.

Two Leafs prospects (and a third draft eligible that Brigstew adores) are on Finland’s U20 roster for the national team camps for next winter and the World Junior Summer Showcase tournament this summer.

Could Zach Hyman Be a Realistic Offseason Target for the Ottawa Senators? | from: Seven Silver Sens

31 Thoughts: How Stanley Cup Playoffs could affect the blueliner market | from: Sportsnet

The Tampa Bay Lightning rebounded after a Game 1 loss to beat the New York Islanders 4-2 in Game 2 at home. A dapper young blogger didn’t write the recap for Raw Charge, but his even more beautiful boss did. The header image alone is worth the click. [Raw Charge]

Dmitri Jaskin is looking to make his NHL return with his old St. Louis Blues GM now in Arizona.