The Toronto Maple Leafs expanded its managerial staff with the hiring of Eric Joyce as their Director of Hockey Strategy. The 42-year-old spent nearly seven years with the Florida Panthers, as a special assistant, assistant GM, and general manager of the Panthers AHL affiliate in Springfield.
Joyce’s military roots (he was brought into the organization by owner Vinny Viola) and serving at various levels in the organization gave rise to speculation that he would be the heir apparent to GM Dale Tallon, but Tallon was replaced by Bill Zito last month.
The role that Joyce will serve in the Leafs organization is unclear, but it will likely serve as another voice along with Asst. GM’s Laurence Gilman and Brandon Pridham advising GM Kyle Dubas.
The Athletic’s Corey Pronman list of players under the age of 23 has Leafs center Auston Matthews ranked atop the list ahead of Rasmus Dahlin, Elias Pettersson, Alexis Lafreniere, and Matthew Tkachuk.
Toronto’s leading scorer “shows a ton of creativity as a handler and passer to create chances for himself and his teammates. While he’s a great passer, his shot drives a ton of his value. (Matthews is) a career 16 percent shooter whose mid-range wrist shot is one of if not the best in the league due to how quick and accurate it is. (While not) a super physical player, but he’s strong on pucks, using his bulky frame to maintain possession. He’s a good skater, not a blazer, but he has enough speed to turn the corner on defenders and create offense through his skating.”
Also on the list are prospect forward Nick Robertson (ranked 62nd), defenseman Rasmus Sandin (ranked 76th), and 2020 first-round pick Rodion Arimov (ranked 81st), but did not include 2017 top pick Timothy Lijegren or Harvard forward Nick Abruzzese, who led all NCAA freshmen with 44 points last season.
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