This edition of Toronto Maple Leafs’ Quick Hits reviews some of the key news emerging from the Maple Leafs this past week. Below, I will offer summaries of some of this news as a way to help the team’s fans keep up with what’s going on.
Item One: Are the Maple Leafs Low-Balling Samsonov?
This past week, specific details of the upcoming salary arbitration between the Maple Leafs and Ilya Samsonov were released. To begin the arbitration process, the Maple Leafs offered Samsonov a salary of $2.4 million, and Samsonov’s agent submitted a contract of $4.9 million. That’s quite far apart.
There is some hope that the two sides can reach an agreement before the actual arbitration meeting on Friday.
Item Two: Noel Acciari’s Personal Connection with Kyle Dubas Led Him to the Penguins
Earlier this week, Noel Acciari shared information about his decision to sign with the Pittsburgh Penguins. One key reason was that he had built a personal connection with former Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas. Acciari noted that he really appreciated (and agreed with) Dubas sharing his plans for the Penguins. Also important to him was the positive testimonial from former Providence College teammate Brandon Tanev.
Item Three: Can Nick Robertson Have an Injury-Free Season?
Nick Robertson has sort of been a forgotten player for the Maple Leafs’ lineup. However, if he could finally have one season where he doesn’t suffer a tough and season-ending injury, what could he accomplish?
Maple Leafs’ fans who are also Robertson fans can only Imagine what he might accomplish during the upcoming season if he remains healthy. He has the scoring ability, is a hard worker, and has put together good seasons in the AHL. His long-term potential as a young talent is still there.
Item Four: Why Ryan O’Reilly Decided to Sign with Nashville
Many Maple Leafs fans hoped that Ryan O’Reilly would join the Maple Leafs. However, instead, he signed a four-year, $18 million contract with the Nashville Predators. Why? In an interview after his signing, O’Reilly fessed up that playing in the spotlight of Toronto was a consideration in his decision to leave.
O’Reilly had positive things to say about the organization and the city. However, it wasn’t for him. It seems he would be (and likely his family as well) more comfortable where he wasn’t under the microscope daily.
Item Five: Mark Giordano Needs Load Management This Season
Mark Giordano was great in the regular season in 2022-23, but wilted a bit in the playoffs. Given his heavy workload, it would seem wise for the Maple Leafs to practice some load management for him. He’s getting a bit long in the tooth for taking on such huge minutes.
There’s no issue with Giordano. He’s been great for the team. However, it’s only fair to consider his age and the physical toll of a long NHL season on the oldest player in the NHL. Proper load management should help preserve his longevity and increase his effectiveness during crucial postseason games.
Item Six: Bo Horvat Has High Praise for new Maple Leafs Max Domi
Bo Horvat is a close friend of Max Domi. In a recent interview, he praised his former teammate and shared that he believed Domi would excel in Toronto. Horvat noted that Domi was passionate about playing in Toronto.
Horvat described Domi as a player who loved the spotlight and embraced challenges. As a result, he predicted that he would become a valuable asset to the Maple Leafs.
Item Seven: Justin Pogge Makes a Goalie Comeback
Former Maple Leafs goalie Justin Pogge was in the news recently. He was once believed to be the Maple Leafs’ goalie of the future. However, that didn’t pan out well.
Now Pogge is making a hockey comeback as the goaltending consultant for Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team at the 2023 Hlinka Gretzky Cup. After his amazing junior career and a great AHL career within the Maple Leafs organization, Pogge is focusing on coaching young goalies.
Item Eight: Former Maple Leafs’ Pierre Engvall Signs Long Term on the Island
News out of the New York Islanders is that former Maple Leafs player Pierre Engvall had signed a seven-year contract worth $21 million with their team. He’s expected to have a more significant role with the Islanders than he did with the Maple Leafs.
Good luck to Engvall. As a fan of former Maple Leafs’ players, I hope he gets a great chance to showcase his skills as a middle-six forward. He should also get additional time on the power play.