TLN Roundtable: Favorite In-Game Moment of the Season?

The Leafs mission is almost over.  They took the ice for one reason this year, and one reason only: to secure 30th place, and give themselves a better chance than anybody else at landing Auston Matthews with the first overall pick come June’s draft.

Okay, maybe there was a bit more to the year than that.  But for the fans, aside from the recent youth movement, that’s largely what the focus has been on for the year.

But even so – even though the season was long, daunting, and oftentimes downright boring – there were actually some pretty good moments sprinkled in there.  And we here at TLN are optimists – well, most of us anyways.  So without further ado, let’s take a look back at the year that was.  Today’s question posed to our esteemed staff of writers was, “What was your favorite in-game moment of the 2015-2016 Leafs season?”.


Nothing defined this season as much as the
mass call-up of kids post-trade deadline. And no moment from those kids
was better than the first career goal from their top prospect. That’s
right, Nikita Soshnikov’s first career goal was incredible – an elite
shot sent top shelf. While he was used as a fourth liner in the AHL, his
skill level is clearly that of a top 6 forward. He just so happens to
be a workhorse and a pest, too. It’s that combination that made him an
instant fan favourite. It’s worth mentioning that I was Soshnikov’s
biggest fan at TLN at the beginning of the season, and his success at
the NHL level proves what we all know – I am always right.


mean, there were pretty goals, first goals, and a whole lot of feel
good stories that come with 10 players making their NHL debuts, but I
prefer to focus on the moment that really felt like it defined Nazem
Kadri as player.
Kadri had a rough October, and early November as he
was slow out of the gate on the score sheet when the team looked to him
to be a top line player. He got by on doing the little things, and by
peppering the league’s goaltenders with as many shots as possible in an
attempt to get things going for himself.
Some of those little things
were actually pretty big, like drawing penalties, and creating
turnovers, and by the time his season ended we had the complete picture
on Kadri. He’s transformed into a solid top six player who adds value at
each end of the ice, and he’s become one of the games top agitators. 

better moment to capture Kadri’s evolution into that player than his
crushing hit on the game’s biggest pest. A sound defensive zone play in
its own right, it was one of the few plays this year that had me up out
of seat cheering for the Leafs as one the most hated players on the team
I hate most was taken to the ice on a clean hit.


While he’s seen as a bit of a goon and a guy
that really shouldn’t be in the NHL, Rich Clune seems to genuinely love
playing the game of hockey and won’t take himself too seriously when
doing so. After conquering a number of personal demons, Clune was given a
second chance and he’s making the most of it. He’s an AHL depth guy
that got called up to fill a hole on a very bad team and yet Rich Clune
gave us one of the best in-game moments of a very painful season.

In a
game against his former Nashville teammates, Clune took the opportunity
of an intermission interview with Mark Masters to cut a WWE-style promo
that had everyone laughing. He took a hilarious shot at long time AHL
rival Cody Bass during a time that is usually nothing more than
monotonous clichés. While the focus afterward was the levity he brought
to the interview, in a moment of vulnerability Clune might have let us
all in on how grateful he truly is to have this second chance, “I just
like playing against anybody”. There were a number of great highlights
skill on the ice this season, but it was this 45 seconds from Clune that
helped to remind us that these are guys playing a game, and it should
be fun for both them and the fans.


There’s not much to remember this largely forgetful season by.  It’s been a miserable year, one where the fate of the team seemed sealed before the skates even hit the ice.  What’s there to cherish about a team that’s on the verge of finishing dead last in the league?

Easy: the Garret Sparks shutout.  We all remember it.  The Leafs were going through a rash of injuries in net and the Leafs called up the kid to make his NHL debut.  A prospect making his NHL debut is always a little exciting.  But I don’t think many expected the 7th-rounder that spent most of the previous year in the ECHL to become the first ever goalie in the entire history of the Leafs to post a shutout in his NHL debut.

Watch, remember, and cry, as we relive what is, for me, the moment above all others to remember the 2015-2016 Leafs by:


Last year, if Mark Arcobello had scored two
goals in rapid succession on the 2014-15 Leafs roster, that would have
hands-down been my favorite moment of the year. This year, though, I’ll
call it my favorite moment out of sentimental attachment to the guy
who’s an American hero – but man, it’s close.
Leafs actually gave me a ton of moments this year that I loved. The
Arcobello goals came while I was at a Panthers game in Florida, and I
actually stepped out into the hall to rewatch them a few times, ignoring
my first game seeing Roberto Luongo live in almost six years. The
Sparks shutout debut was great as well, though – would have loved to
have known what was going through his head when he realized he’d made
history. Maybe one day I’ll get to find out; that could easily push that
moment to my favorite of the year.
Brad Boyes score his first goal as a Leaf was great. Seeing how loud
the team made the ACC at times was incredible; the Toronto native in me
couldn’t have wished for a better time to see the fans finally renew
some hope in the team. It would take forever to go through all the
moments this year that made me smile – which is new for the Leafs.
But hey – you all know me. The best in-game moment was the Marcobello goals. Fight me on it, I dare you.


I’m struck by how difficult it is to choose
my favourite moment of the season, because I wasn’t expecting to enjoy a
single second of it. When the season kicked off, I couldn’t have been
any less engaged. Cut to February 29th, when William Nylander, Kasperi
Kapanen and Nikita Soshnikov made their NHL debut. Although there were
many amazing moments since the day the baby Leafs bounced on the scene,
it was a game against the New York Islanders on March 9th that cemented
my excitement for the next generation, as well as the rest of the
season. I was sitting in the 300s at the ACC when the Islanders were up
by one with 1:13 left of play in the game when Nylander tied it up with a
rebound. It wasn’t a pretty one by any means, but it was a good
reminder that he could turn into the guy who can come up big when the
chips are down. A few minutes later in OT, it was Soshnikov who scored
the goal that won the game for the boys in blue. It was a game where the
kids (Hyman also had a helper) were the difference makers. Maybe I was a
bit buzzed on $12 beers, but it was the most fun I’ve had watching a
Leafs game in a long-ass time.

What, no love for William Nylander’s first NHL goal?  Or Connor Brown’s late-game heroics against the Ducks?  What was your favorite in-game moment of the 2015-2016 Leafs season?  Let us know in the comments.

  • Harte of a Lion

    there are a lot to choose from the rookies getting call ups and exceeding expectations, to the emergence of nazem kadri, jake gardiner and morgan rielly to sparks’ debut and marincin establishing himself as a real nhl player but I have to say my favourite moment is the reemergence of james reimer. if anyone deserved this type of year, it was him. I’m eternally grateful for babcock choosing toronto and for shanny for somehow convincing him to come here although it’s not a hard decision choosing between buffalo and the centre of the universe 🙂

  • Metal thrashin dad

    For me it was Nylanders first 3-point night. That was the game when I was like “this kid is everything we’d hope he be, and more”. At that point in the season I was much less worried about the leafs winning to many games, but the last few I have be actively cheering against them, which is a super weird feeling. I don’t know if that makes me a bad fan, or maybe not a fan at all?

  • Metal thrashin dad

    forgot to mention sealing a bottom 3 pick as a highlight and I would just like to mention that soshnikov scored the only shootout goal it was not an ot goal. it was still a great goal and a great moment. lots of great moments in this seemingly miserable year. it has actually been the best leafs season in years and were 30th in the league!

  • Metal thrashin dad

    The best moment this season was either the Phaneuf trade or the death of quiet of corsi when the leafs who have one of the best shot differentials failed to make the playoffs yet again. The later proved that the predictive power of shot differentials are ummm….. questionable to say the least.

      • Gary Empey

        No, we all were convinced they were great at the AHL level. The question was “How will they look at the NHL level?” In years gone bye most of our AHL prospects have struggled to adapt to the speed, quickness and strength of NHL competition.

        This first wave nearly blew-up the TANK and most had to be sent back. It was starting to look like they would run the table.

        After all these years how many times have we read fabulous scouting reports and glowing media articles only to be let down when the puck drops?
        Surely you can’t blame me for wondering if these Marlies were ready for prime time.

  • Harte of a Lion

    Another Nobby Crappuccino moment uhmmm I meant BOBBY CAPPUCCINO….. Your the Rodney Dangerfield of TLN, ya get no respect!

    Nobby you rated him the 9th best prospect, all year long I have been his biggest supporter and the lone voice claiming he could, should, would be better than Panarin and could win Rookie of the year in 2016/17 depending on his line mates…

    just to refresh yours and everyone else’s memory

    • Harold Ballard

      Uh, he claimed he was “Soshnikov’s biggest fan at TLN at the beginning of the season”, and since he rated him 9th on his list, the highest rating Soshnikov got from anyone here at TLN, then that appears to be correct. Seems like you’re the one having a “moment” here :^)

      • Harte of a Lion

        Ok my bad, I’ll gracefully exit stage left

        I owe you an apology Bobby, I misread your comment as… you rated Soshnikov as your top prospect, not you rated him the highest out of all the TLN writers, you one smart guy!

  • Harte of a Lion

    There have been some great moments, trying to convince Justin they wouldn’t trade Uncle Leo, Justin for once, you were wrong, telling everyone the Marincin trade was a steal.. For.. the Leafs and now Babcock comparing him to Stralman, predicting a 67 point season when they were 1-7-2… predicting they would land Babcock and finally … watching the kids play for the Marlies then arrive and perform in the NHL.

    Nylander’s first goal, Soshnikov screaming louder than the crowd after scoring his first, Hyman playing hard every shift, Lievo and his rocket shot, The Goat winning face offs and skating like a pro, Leipsic scoring on a 3-2 knuckleball his first game, Connor Brown showing why he might be the best 6th round pick the Leafs ever drafted and perhaps Burke-Nonis’s best pick, Frankie Corrado, Connor Carrick, Colin Smith, Justin Holl, the Marlies winning the Kilpatrick Trophy, Lou Lamoriello, Jacque Lemaire, Kyle Dubas, Sheldon Keefe, the Shanaplan and the list goes on and on…

    Perhaps I have an advantage by following the Marlies so closely but I had no doubts that the organization was/is a lot closer to competing than the general consensus.

    My 10 favourite upcoming moments of 2016/17?

    1. Winning the draft lottery

    2. Not signing STAMKOS, yes to trading for Bishop

    3. Once Datsyuk confirms his intention to head tor the KHL Helping the Red Wings with their cap issues by acquiring his contract plus Mantha and a 2nd for Bozak and then having Babcock convince him to play out the year and mentor the kids

    4. The arrival of Zaitsev

    5. The Leafs make the playoffs on the final day of the season and go on a fabulous run

    6. Montreal missing the playoffs again while being bumped by the Leafs on the final day of the season

    7. Nylander’s first 5 point night

    8. The first Estonian born Maple Leaf Captain

    9. Soshnikov scores 30 and wins the Calder

    10. Montreal missing the playoffs and picks 14th (this is worth repeating twice)

  • Gary Empey

    Have watched the Leafs forever and been a fan for a real long time. When Connor Brown was chosen by the Leafs he was a -72 or something like that so I thought I would keep an eye on him. Over the past 4 years he has stepped up his game every year and has always surprised with his scoring touch, so it was really great to see him score his first(of I hope many)NHL goal.

  • Gary Empey

    My favourite moment hasn’t arrived yet as I’m wishing and hoping and praying to quote Dionne Warwicke that the leafs complete the tremendous TANK ESCAPADE tonight. Btw guys only about 6 hours to game time so I wait with baited, clean breath for your as usual astute prognostication on this titanic struggle tonight against the Devils.

    Please don’t let me down like the Glob and Mall did by not even having a story on the Raptors tremendous defeat of Indiana last night as their two rookie guards produced 46 points.