Three Leafs make noise across the hockey world this week, earn honours

Photo Credit: Christian Bonin/

It’s a good week to be a member of the Leafs organization. Three points in four games and a seminal night in team history are a great start, but to go with that, three players have been recognized by their leagues as standouts.

Auston Matthews

Well, I don’t think anybody is too surprised about this one. Auston took the world by storm this week with his four-goal NHL debut on Wednesday, and while he was kept off the scoresheet on Saturday, he was still plenty composed. It wasn’t enough to get him above Connor McDavid, who looked about two or three steps ahead of the entire rest of the sport in his first two games, but it instantaneously made Matthews a household name across the league.

Kasperi Kapanen

Kapanen better make some room on his shelf, because he’s got himself some etched crystal to hang up soon. Many have said that this needs to be a big year for the youngster, who has never really dominated a league before. With that said, it looks pretty good for him so far, as the 20-year-old picked up a goal and four assists this weekend, tying fellow Marlies forward Brendan Leipsic for the team and league scoring lead after two games.

His goal, which was technically more of an own goal, was the standout, as he used his lightning quick acceleration to drive to the net from the other side of the ice, overwhelming even Jordan Subban along the way.

Jeremy Bracco

The good times were rolling even in junior. Toronto’s 2015 second-round pick wasted no time running away with control of the league’s box scores, scoring 17 points in his first 6 games, 13 of which game in his last four appearances this week. Bracco, who joined the OHL midway through last season, has points in every game that he’s played in so far.

  • gerg3d

    Very impressive. Bracco might jump straight to the NHL next year, and with Kapanen and Soshkinov, may be too many forwards for spots. I could see a trade coming for a top 4 D

    • LukeDaDrifter

      It has been mentioned causally here a few times. Having too many top prospects, may be a bigger problem than most of us ever thought could happen. I certainly have never seen it before.The Leafs do have too many prospects that will be NHL ready shortly. Even Nielsen and Dermott are not far off.I don’t think today you can keep good players with NHL speed and skill,, buried in the AHL for years like you used to do.It damages thier careers and retards their potential to make good money. In my opinion it looks like some of our older prospects were sent back to junior, whereas in other years they likely would have started their pro career on the Marlies. Your suggestion that a trade for a top four D seems to be the most logical one. There appears to be two vacancy’s on defence and possibly three. The price of a young top four defenceman is very high (Taylor Hall). No teams this year attempted a complete tear-down like the Leafs did last year and a half. Most are trying to rebuild on the fly.Some will wish they had of done the tear-down,The Ducks look like they would like to trade someone, Most think Gardiner would go the other way. The problem with that is it would still leave you with only three proven top four D. I am sure Lamariello has spoken to the Ducks and Jets. My guess is the asking price is, a solid NHL player a top prospect, plus taking back a bad contract. Maybe have to even include a draft pick to close the deal. That leaves two questions, Can we afford that sort of price and would it be worth it? For an example you could use Gardiner or Nikita Zaitsev. Would you consider trading either of them for a good AHL prospect or two?:

      • Thomas John

        I don’t like the idea of trading now for a good AHL prospect, the prospect pipeline is already too backed up in the forward positions and on the right side for defensemen. Now is the time to see what it is that you have in the kids like Carrick, and Corrado, and to see if Zaitsev really is as good as he has looked over these 2 games. I am not denying that there needs to be an upgrade in defensemen on this team, with Marincin on our top pair who has looked like a pylon so far. As this site said last week now might be the time to sell on hype, with Bracco and Kapanen having this kind of success, if it is continued, these next few months may be the time to make some moves. I could see a deal being done for a top four D looking something like: Corrado (just because I like him less than Carrick), Kapanen, and a second. Does this sound unrealistic?

        • LukeDaDrifter

          Sorry my example was not all that clear. I wasn’t suggesting actually trading Gardiner or Zaitsev for an AHL prospect.What I intended was, if moving either of our two guys for a good AHL prospect is unlikely, I think the Jets or Ducks would view it the same way, when considering moving one of theirs. I highly doubt you could pick up a top four D for a bubble NHLer and a good AHL prospect. Even throwing in a first might not do it.Lindholm is rumored to be looking for 7 million for 7 or eight years.Ducks have no cap space to sign him. Trouba probably less but still big money and term.Once in a while one does see a quantity for quality trade. So there is hope,Usually the team the takes the quantity loses the deal. There is some over thirty D, with hefty contracts kicking around but that doesn’t really fit the rebuild.I think the Leafs will stick with what they have and wait for a Marlies D to develop. And wait for someone to come knocking on our door with a nice deal.I feel some team that has tried the rebuild on the fly and failed will say ” Looked what Shanahan has just accomplished in such a short time. Whose got a lot of good prospects looking for a trade?”

          • LukeDaDrifter

            Yes I agree, signing Lindholm is their first choice. Fowler is playing top minutes on the dressed D at the moment for them.He is 34 years old.I don’t think we have a good spare NHL regular to exchanged for a top four defenceman.The Ducks though do have to do something. Again this year they have stumbled out of the gate, plus they have only 300 grand to sign Lindholm. Something will have to give there. My main point is expecting to get a young top four D for a bunch of good prospects is unlikely, unless some team is doing a complete tear-down. Even then those teams will be hanging on to their Riellys and moving their Phaneufs.

          • DukesRocks

            Even though it’s been a small sample size, the Leafs D has played pretty well thus far. My feeling on this matter is to see how Corrado and Carrak do. I’ve read some of the post here and there’s no chance the Leafs will ever get a top 4 D in a trade for AHL or CHL prospects. So what will the Leafs do with player like Bracco, Timashov, Kapanen, Brown, Johnsson, Leipsic etc.

            My thoughts are all these players are no going to play for the Leafs at the same time. So to me I need to know who on the Leafs are the core. Well Mathews, Nylander, Marner, Rielly and Zaitesev are not going to get traded anytime soon. You can also add Kadri and maybe Gardner to that mix. Everybody else presently are expendable assets, with the except of Martin and Hyman. So how are the Leafs going to raise the trade value for some of these prospects. Well we know Michalek, Hunwick and Polak will most likely not be back next year. That will open up some spots. But I think the best thing to do is play some prospect at the NHL level “example Brown”, raise his value and trade him. The thing is most of the Leafs prospects are SIMILAR that they are all small shifty skilled forwards and therefore the majority at some point will be trade chips

            To me we can try and get a top 4 D but like you mentioned Nielsen and Dermott are a year of two away and Carrak and Corrado might surprise many. I feel the biggest need are players that have size/skating/toughness/hockey sense all in one package. As an example I will use Jake Virtanen. Virtanen hasn’t found his game in Vancouver yet and the Sedins are getting old. They are a team in needs skilled offensive players because their window for success is just about to close. You might be able to swing a deal for him without touching your main roster players. You can also throw 2nd or 3rd round draft pick to get the deal done.

            This years trade deadline will be interesting. Will we be contentions for the playoff? If not will we move JVR and Bozak? My point is, there will be a multitude of ways we acquire and trade assets between now and the start of next season. For me I just want to see us get bigger and tougher, while still being a team that plays a fast skilled game.

          • LukeDaDrifter

            As I see it the upcoming problem we have, if it is a problem is this. Most teams are hoping one, maybe two, of their prospects can make the team each year, This year alone we have six on the team, Three of them are too good to even consider going to the AHL.The other three have been there and done that, We seem to have (I didn’t count them) aprox 10 guys in the minors that are looking like they will be ready to continue their development in the NHL next year. I don’t remember any team ever have this problem before. It could set a precedent. The trade with Vancouver you mention certainly makes sense to most fans of hockey. The problem there is Van’s ownership is already on record stating they wish to win and make the playoffs this year. I am hoping Lamariello can figure something out…… I can’t.

          • DukesRocks

            I agree, I’ve never seen this level of competition for roster spots and so many quality players to fill them. You would think Kapanen, Leipsic and Lindburg are near ready to make that jump now. Guys like Timashov, Bracco, Neilsen, Dermott etc are like 1 or 2 years away. My question is:

            If the Leafs start to win consistently and are playoff bound. Will they move players like Kamorov, JVR and Bozak and tank?

            I think the brass should stick to the plan and keep adding to the core, no matter their position in the standing. Teams like Vancouver and San Jose are prime targets because they want to win now.

          • LukeDaDrifter

            I hope your sitting down. If the Leafs move Kamorov, JVR and Bozak around the trade deadline, and bring up a some guys from the Marlies maybe put Lievo and Griffith in the lineup, there is no way they are tanking. They might even be stronger.. The Leafs have carefully acquired players with a higher than average compete level. Plus speed and skill to go with it, Babcock’s a great teacher and only coaches to win, Looks like he loves coaching these guys.

            I do like your thinking on SJ or Van might be willing to part with a nice young D. Don’t rule out the Jets. Financially it would be a big deal for them to make the playoffs

            .Inexperience and unforeseen circumstances may get us another top draft pick, but don’t expect the young guys to buy into that. They are all definitely.. “In it to Win it”

          • DukesRocks

            Totally agree, maybe used the wrong word in tanking. I agree the calls might make the leafs better. The things is you still need the vets for guidance. So maybe JVR and Michalek this year and Bozak and Komorov next year. The point is stick to the Shanny plan. Keep adding to the core.

          • LukeDaDrifter

            Re – “Keep adding to the core” The Leafs have been listening to you. Even though the roster is tight as a mouse”s ear, they recently claimed Seth Griffith. I was really surprised they would do that. Then when I checked out his talent rating I seen he is considered to have a very high hockey IQ.

            “Marner to Griffith to Matthews to Nylander”….. “Jesus Christ. Where’s the puck?” “Oh! There it is. How the hell did it get in the net” “Hey Joe, Can you play that back again in slow motion?”

  • The Russian Rocket

    Kapenen’s speed is legit! I think if he was on the Leafs right now he’d be one of the 5 fastest on the team.

    Hope the kid can finish at a point-per-game pace in the AHL this season.

  • Brandon

    I agree that the pipeline looks a bit clogged. I don’t see the Leafs wanting to trade away all their “veterans” next year, but I see a number of prospects that look ready and promising. Johnsson, Kapanen, Leipsic, Soshnikov are all likely to be ready next year. Who leaves to open spots for them? Michalek, Komorov, Martin, Bozak, Holland (with Nylander moving to centre)? This would make for one hell of a young team. It does seem like a trade is likely, but you hate to risk trading a very promising prospect so you can keep some vets.

  • Tigon

    I doubt Bracco jumps straight to the NHL when the AHL never is a step back in development for first time pro, like Timashov currently.

    With the likes of Soshnikov, Kapanen, Rychel and Lindberg already in the AHL (not to mention Leivo in limbo and Griffith somewhere) it makes no sense not the start Bracco in the AHL first and move former guys up as Michalek and probably Holland’s spot in the NHL are vacated on forward.

    I could see the Leafs moving prospect currency for defense as I suggested a few weeks ago in regards to acquiring proven talent like Trouba (example) if a deal could be had.

      • Tigon

        I doubt Vancouver is wanting to move him. I suspect a Bozak + Carrick would be a conversation started. Wouldn’t be surprised if they asked for more like adding a Corrado back or Leivo.

        Vancouver wants to win now so pieces that could help now but also have value short and long term like Carrick, Leivo, Corrado would help.

    • fermanaghlad

      I used to think Trouba would be a great fit for the Leafs and would have liked to have him, but now hearing about his attitude and monetary demands he is changing my opinion to that of a self centered problem on the Leafs that we don’t need ….7m. is way to much for a 21 yr. old and Lou wouldn’t do that

      • Tigon

        It’s unfortunate that us fans will have to endure another lockout because salaries are so out of line. Second contracts are already within +/- 1M of 1/2 league maximum most of the time in a salary cap league.

        Money made per league lowest to highest: NHL, NBA, MLB, NFL

        AVG salaries: NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB (fact: the AVG career earnings of an NFL player is about 1 year of Robidas!)

        And the salaries made per league, the NHL isn’t even close to the others. Big disparity between how much the teams make and how much the players make. You could compare the joke that is the Cleveland Browns to the Arizona Coyotes but the Browns are able to survive because they still make money at the end of the day. So lockout #3 be prepared.