Posts Tagged ‘Toronto Maple Leafs’

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New York Islanders players are sticking up for John Tavares after a retired former teammate questioned his leadership.

Several of Tavares’ old running mates dismissed Rob Schremp’s insinuation that the Toronto Maple Leafs center is a selfish player when they were asked about the comments.

“He was by no means a bad leader or a bad teammate,” New York forward Matt Martintold Sportsnet’s Eric Francis. “I think he was a good captain, led by example, played hard every night, and really cared about the organization and the team.”

“It’s silly to me,” Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey said. He then added an anecdote about when Tavares lost the 2014-15 scoring title by a single point after asking for his deflection to instead be credited to Hickey on a goal about halfway through the season.

“He’s a good teammate,” Hickey continued. “For anyone to say he’s selfish, they’re just misguided. Maybe they’re looking for a headline.”

Jordan Eberle agreed.

“If the team isn’t having success and he is, it’s not his fault. I’ve never seen him be selfish,” he said. “(The tweet) was a bit surprising. I was shocked, because I know John and played with him and I think the majority of guys who played with him will say the same thing.”

Tavares had individual goals but the team was his top priority, according to Andrew Ladd.

“The way he takes care of himself and all that – he wanted to be the best,” he said. “That’s his goal. Everything he did was for the group. Nothing but good things from me as a teammate. He’s got a good rep in this room.”

Tavares spent nine seasons with the Islanders, including five as captain. He ranks fifth on the club’s all-time points list.

Schremp spent parts of two of those campaigns with Tavares and New York. He was a first-round pick in the 2004 draft, but last played in the NHL in 2010-11 and spent his final seven seasons playing in Europe.

Tavares signed with the Leafs as a free agent last July.

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The Toronto Maple Leafs will not part ways with defensive prospects Timothy Liljegrenor Rasmus Sandin in exchange for a rental player, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

Additionally, the team won’t consider moving a future first-round pick in a rental deal, Friedman wrote in Thursday’s edition of “31 Thoughts.”

The Leafs already sent their 2019 first-round selection to the Los Angeles Kings for a player with term in defenseman Jake Muzzin, but moving a future first-rounder for a player on an expiring contract is apparently not in the cards for Toronto.

Liljegren was selected by the Maple Leafs with the 17th overall pick at the 2017 draft. The smooth-skating defenseman has been plagued by injuries for much of his tenure with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies but he has the potential to become a top-four NHL blue-liner. The 19-year-old’s right-handed shot is also a valuable commodity in the league.

Sandin, 18, was the 29th overall pick of the 2018 draft. A sprained elbow has held the Swede to just 20 games with the Marlies this season, but he’s picked up an impressive five goals and five assists in those contests.

Both Ron Hainsey and Jake Gardiner are scheduled to become UFAs on July 1. Considering the Leafs’ impending cap constraints, they may be forced to fill the void on the blue line internally next season.

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With John Tavares set to make his return to Long Island in two weeks, questions about his decision to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs this past offseason are already rolling in.

“I have absolutely no regrets,” Tavares told reporters following Sunday’s loss to the New York Rangers. “I’m in a great spot. It’s been a tremendous opportunity and we’re just beginning.

“When I made the decision it felt right to me and it was the best thing for me and my career.”

Tavares’ decision to leave the New York Islanders and join his childhood team is thus far paying off. The 28-year-old is just five goals shy of tying his career high of 38, with 26 games still to play. Meanwhile, his 60 points in 56 contests have him on pace to set a career best in that category, too.

The Maple Leafs will tangle with the Islanders on Feb. 28, as Tavares will look to avenge a 4-0 loss to his former team back on Dec. 29.

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Despite recent comments from Mitch Marner‘s agent suggesting contract talks with the Toronto Maple Leafs hadn’t gone smoothly this past summer, the star forward insists his feelings toward the organization remain wholly positive.

“Me and my family love it here, my agency loves it here. It’s a great place to play hockey. We have a great management, we have a great team in this locker room,” Marner told reporters, including TSN’s Mark Masters, on Wednesday. “We all want, including myself, to be a Leaf for a long time and I’m sure that will happen.”

Marner’s agent, Darren Ferris, said Tuesday that the Maple Leafs had lowballed his client in contract talks. He clarified on Wednesday that his comments were in relation to initial talks in the summer and that things have actually been rather positive since.

Immediately after Auston Matthews‘ new five-year extension was announced Tuesday, speculation turned to what Marner could command on his pending deal. However, Marner and Ferris have been adamant that they won’t negotiate a contract until after the season.

“There’s really no rush for anyone, I think the Leafs know that as well,” Marner said. “A deal is going to get done eventually. It’s nothing to rush upon. I think like Kyle (Dubas) will probably tell you, our goal is here is to be a Maple Leaf for a long time and win a lot of Cups here. I’m sure that will happen eventually.

“I’ll let Kyle and my agent talk. I’ve kind of told both parties that I don’t really want to be informed until something’s about to happen.”

The 21-year-old is in the midst of a banner year in Toronto with 65 points in 53 games, a 100-point pace that would shatter his career high of 69 set last season. Those numbers will fetch a pretty penny whenever talks pick up again, but Marner maintains he’s only concerned with one thing.

“As long as I am here next training camp that’s all that really matters,” he said.

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With his contract negotiations in the rearview mirror, Auston Matthews can now turn his attention fully toward helping the Toronto Maple Leafs compete for the Stanley Cup.

The superstar center mentioned those aspirations repeatedly after inking his new five-year, $58.15-million pact Tuesday.

“In the end, you’re measured on championships and that’s what I want to do,” Matthews told reporters, including Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.

The 21-year-old stressed that it’s a team target as much as a personal one.

“We want to accomplish our ultimate goal, which is the Stanley Cup, and make this city proud,” he told the assembled media, including TSN. “We’re working toward that every day.”

When asked if his new deal brings with it added pressure to deliver that goal, Matthews downplayed that notion.

“We always feel the pressure from fans here,” he said. “They want a championship team, and we want to give it to them. This city deserves it.”

In terms of his focus, Matthews clarified that the talks were “never really a weight” on his shoulders but said it’s nice to get them over with.

He ranks second on the club with 23 goals and fourth with 46 points this season, despite missing 14 games due to injury.

The Maple Leafs have the fourth-best record in the NHL and sit in second place in the Atlantic Division, 13 points behind the league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning.

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On the day that saw Auston Matthews handed a hefty five-year contract extension worth north of $58 million, not everyone is getting the impression the team is looking to pay its stars generously.

With Matthews signed, eyes now turn to pending restricted free agent Mitch Marner. Marner’s camp has already gone on record stating they will not negotiate a contract in-season. His agent, Darren Ferris, revealed Tuesday that stance is due to a severe undervaluation by the Maple Leafs in prior discussions.

“So far they’ve been trying to lowball (Marner),” Ferris said, according to Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star. “That’s the reason we’ve come to this point.”

Unlike recent deals signed by Matthews and William Nylander, Ferris said the club has asked Marner to meet it halfway on a team-friendly pact.

“Nobody else is taking a discount. And now you’re asking (Marner) to take one again? It’s nonsense,” Ferris said. “Mitch already did them a favor on the entry-level deal.”

When Marner signed his entry-level contract, his camp was told it was team policy not to hand out schedule B bonuses to players, according to Ferris. Just over a year after Marner signed, however, Matthews agreed to a contract that included them.

Speaking Tuesday, Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas was firm in saying Marner would be with the team long-term. As for Ferris, he insists that when it comes to putting pen to paper, the ball is in the Maple Leafs’ court.

“Mitch will get what Mitch is due. But as far as the Maple Leafs, it’s up to them how they value him. If it works out with them, it works out,” Ferris said. “We’ll see at the end of the year what their position is and whether they’re motivated to sign Mitch or not. It’s totally up to them.”

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The Toronto Maple Leafs and superstar Auston Matthews agreed to a five-year contract extension with an average annual value of $11.634 million, the team announcedTuesday.

Ninety-three percent of the money in Matthews’ contract will be paid out in signing bonuses, according to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.

Matthews will have a full no-movement clause in the final year of his deal, which is the first year it can kick in, according to Sportsnet’s John Shannon.

The dynamic center’s average annual value makes him the second-highest paid player in the league, trailing only Connor McDavid‘s $12.5 million. Matthews’ annual cap hit is $634,000 more than teammate John Tavares‘, who signed a seven-year, $77-million contract with the Maple Leafs this summer.

The Maple Leafs project to have $16.4 million in cap space next season with Mitch Marner, Kasperi Kapanen, and Andreas Johnsson as key pending restricted free agents.

Since entering the league in 2016-17, Matthews has established himself as one of the game’s premier goal scorers. He ranks sixth in the NHL with 97 goals during that span despite missing 34 games due to injury.