Leafs’ 64-player training camp roster

- September 17th, 2014

The 64-player roster for Maple Leafs training camp, which starts on Thursday with medicals at the MasterCard Centre:

Goaltenders (6)
Jonathan Bernier, Antoine Bibeau, Christopher Gibson, Cal Heeter, James Reimer, Garret Sparks

Defencemen (18)
Cody Donaghey, Matt Finn, Cody Franson, Jake Gardiner, Petter Granberg, Korbinian Holzer, Eric Knodel, Viktor Loov, Andrew MacWilliam, Kevin Marshall, Brendan Mikkelson, Tom Nilsson, Stuart Percy, Dion Phaneuf, Roman Polak, Morgan Rielly, Stephane Robidas, Henrik Tallinder

Forwards (40)
Spencer Abbott, Carter Ashton, Tyler Biggs, Troy Bodie, David Booth, Tyler Bozak, David Broll, Connor Brown, Sam Carrick, David Clarkson, Stefan Della Rovere, Jamie Devane, Brett Findlay, Matt Frattin, Frederik Gauthier, Peter Holland, Nazem Kadri, Phil Kessel, Leo Komarov, Petri Kontiola, Brandon Kozun, Josh Leivo, Joffrey Lupul, Spencer Machacek, Greg McKegg, Frazer McLaren, Carson McMillan, William Nylander, Colton Orr, Brad Ross, Matt Rupert, Ryan Rupert, Mike Santorelli, Trevor Smith, James van Riemsdyk, Carter Verhaeghe, Francis Wathier, Patrick Watling, Daniel Winnik, Brady Vail

Gauthier hurt, but expects to be okay

- August 7th, 2014

SHERBROOKE, Que. — Frederik Gauthier missed the last 40 minutes of Canada’s exhibition game on Thursday but doesn’t think he’s any serious trouble.
The Maple Leafs’ first-round pick in 2013 experienced soreness after absorbing a hit against Russia in a game Canada won 6-3. It’s believed he was favouring his ribs.
“I’m sore a bit,” Gauthier said. “I didn’t want to take any chances, just stopped there. Feel okay. We’ll see. Going to check in with the doctor tomorrow just to be sure. It’s going to be okay.”
Gauthier was part of Canada’s team last winter in Sweden and if he makes the national junior team again for the 2015 tournament in Montreal and Toronto, the expectation is he will centre the fourth line.
There has been an improvement in his skating — Gauthier said he is more stable on his skates — and he was second in faceoff-winning percentage for Canada last year, as well as serving as a dependable penalty killer.
“It’s a matter of him being consistent,” Canada coach Benoit Groulx said. “He has to use his big body to go on the forecheck, to create offensive chances, to be tough to play against in the corners and in front of the net, and not be happy with being just a defensive player at this level.”

Nurse: Dubas a “smart hockey mind”

- August 4th, 2014

BROSSARD, Que. — Put Darnell Nurse in the category of those who think the Maple Leafs made a solid hire in Kyle Dubas.
Nurse, an Edmonton Oilers first-round pick in 2013, spent the past three seasons defending the blue line for Dubas with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.
Leafs president Brendan Shanahan put some dents in the conventional hockey box when he hired the 28-year-old Dubas — who had been the Greyhounds’ general manager for three years — as assistant general manager in July. Nurse sees only positives in Dubas’ future in Toronto.
“He’s an unbelievable hockey mind,” Nurse said on Monday after practice at Canada’s world junior summer camp at the Bell Sports Complex. “I was really lucky to be part of his program for the past three years. He really changed the culture.”
Dubas will have a hand in changing the culture in Toronto, certainly behind the scenes. The Leafs had little use for analytics, something Shanahan came to quickly realize. Dubas, as has been well-documented, recognized the value of using advanced statistics to arrive at a more complete evaluation of not only his team but other players in the Ontario Hockey League.
Whether a similar approach helps lead to success for the Leafs remains to be seen. It won’t hurt.
“The analytics side was more for the coaching staff,” Nurse said. “They would show us some of the advanced stats at certain points in the season. But he is just such a smart hockey mind and knows how to use it, when to present it to us.
“We’re just hockey players. We go out there and try to skate up and down the ice and sometimes you throw some of those stats in our face, you can get kind of confused. He definitely used it to the best of his ability, but it was not something that made or broke our team.”

Leafs add Finnish centre Kontiola

- July 3rd, 2014

The Maple Leafs have gone back to Finland for a free-agent centre.
Reports indicate the Leafs have signed 29-year-old Petri Kontiola, who had 13 goals and 22 assists for a team-high 37 points in 53 games for Traktor Chelyabinsk of the KHL last season.
Drafted 196th overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2004, Kontiola never was able to make an impact with the future two-time Stanley Cup champions, recording five assists in 12 games for Chicago during the 2007-08 season.
The six-foot, 190-pound Kontiola has spent the past five seasons in the KHL. At the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Kontiola had one goal and four assists in six games, helping Finland win the bronze medal.
Leafs general manager Dave Nonis was in Finland earlier this week and convinced forward Leo Komarov to return to Toronto.
The Leafs also have interest in free-agent centre David Legwand, but it’s not clear whether the signing of Kontiola will have an impact in the Leafs’ pursuit of the 33-year-old centre.
Defenceman Tim Gleason, meanwhile, signed a one-year, $1.2-million US contract with the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday. The Leafs bought out Gleason, acquired from Carolina for defenceman John-Michael Liles in January, this week.

Poulin: Up to Nylander where he plays next season

- July 2nd, 2014

The Maple Leafs won’t pressure first-round pick William Nylander to play in the Ontario Hockey League next season.
Nylander, selected eighth overall by Toronto in the National Hockey League draft last week in Philadelphia, had his name called again on Wednesday, this time by the Mississauga Steelheads in the Canadian Hockey League import draft.
The Leafs and the Steelheads didn’t have an agreement worked out beforehand, Leafs vice-president of hockey operations Dave Poulin said.
“There were (Canadian Hockey League) teams who reached out to us to see if we did have a preference on where he plays next year,” Poulin said. “That will all be up to the player and how things progress from here. There were teams with high picks that reached out to see if we could be a factor in the decision, and we will not be a factor in the decision.
“This player has options available. By not being under contract, he could essentially play anywhere next year. He could go back and play in the Swedish Hockey League, he is eligible to play in the American Hockey League, he could come in and make a strong impression right at the top (with the Leafs).”
The Leafs don’t have to say it, but they would love to see the 18-year-old forward blow their socks off in camp and make the club. It’s possible that happens, given Nylander’s potential and the fact it’s not exactly unheard of for players who aren’t picked first, second or third to crack an NHL roster the following fall.