The Toronto Maple Leafs had an extremely successful regular season, but fell below the expectations of some with a first round loss to the Boston Bruins. One of the primary tasks ahead for newly installed GM Kyle Dubas is to evaluate the players that currently make up the club and determine which should be retained and which Toronto should move on from.
We continue the evaluation of the Leafs with a look at some of the club’s forwards:
Josh Leivo - It was another wasted year for the 24-year-old winger, who was protected in the expansion draft last summer and agreed to a one-year contract extension, but remained an extra forward and healthy scratch for all but 16 games last season.
Unlike two years ago, when the former third-round pick thrived in his limited role (10 points in 13 games played), Leivo scored just four points and grew frustrated at the lack of use that he reportedly asking for a trade.
Grade – D
Patrick Marleau - Signed as a free agent, Marleau proved to be everything the Leafs hoped he would be. The 38-year-old mostly played wing, but filled in at center when injuries struck and was a consistent and steadying influence on his young teammates.
Marleau scored 27 goals and found a home playing with Nazem Kadri and Mitch Marner in the second half. In the playoffs, he led Toronto with four goals and was matched up against the Bruins top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak.
Grade – A
Here is the latest edition of "The Leafs Convo", please watch and subscribe to our YouTube page.and/or listen on iTunes.
Auston Matthews - Plagued by three separate stints on the injured list (back, concussion and shoulder) and slowed by the after effects, Matthews still managed to score 34 goals (second to James van Riemsdyk) and 63 points (second to Mitch Marner) in spite of playing 62 games.
The 20-year-old did not have an effective post-seasn, as the Bruins neutralized the 2017 Calder Trophy winner, matching up veterans Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron against him and limiting Matthews to one goal and one assist in seven games.
Grade – A-
Mitch Marner - The Leafs 2015 first round pick struggled mightily in the first half, playing significant time on the fourth line and scoring just two goals in 34 games, but Marner found his game in the second half and effectively picked up the slack with the absence of Matthews during the second half, finishing the season with 22 goals and leading Toronto with 69 points.
Where the 21-year-old’s abilities really showed was in the playoffs, where Marner led the club with nine points in spite of being the target of Boston checkers.
Grade – A
*******If you are interested in sponsorship or advertising your business in the Greater Toronto / Southern Ontario area on this column, please send a message for more information by clicking on the “Contact” button at the top of the page.*******