‘It’s a different game’: Lamoriello struck by impact of Leafs rookies

Posted: 30/01/2017 in NHL, Sports
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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The Toronto Maple Leafs are providing a new challenge for one of hockey’s most experienced front office executives.

The rapid emergence of rookie forwards Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander – all of whom rank within the top five in team scoring – has put the club in playoff contention perhaps a year or two earlier than expected.

Teams being carried by first-year players is a phenomenon that has emerged late in Lamoriello’s 30-year career.

“I don’t think your rookies would have been better than the players you had,” Lamoriello told Craig Custance of ESPN, referring to the state of the NHL during his tenure with the New Jersey Devils. “That’s the difference. I don’t think 10 years ago, 12 years ago, rookies came in and were able to take the jobs the way they are right now. The young player is so much better as far as quantity than it’s been in the past. It’s just the way the development of the game and the programs, and the focus of 12 months of training.

“It’s a different game today. It’s a different philosophy, it’s a different approach,” he added. “I have certainly not experienced it.”

The question, then, becomes where to go from here. Do the Maple Leafs continue with a patient, build-from-within approach, or do they take advantage of the fact three of their best players are on entry-level contracts and try to surround them with veteran talent in order to become legitimate Stanley Cup contenders in the near future?

It’s a conversation that will no doubt be had more than once prior to the NHL’s March 1 trade deadline, as well as through the offseason.

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