Maple Leafs Report Card – Forwards
Auston Matthews — A+
As long as something unforeseen happens Auston is on his way to win the Calder Trophy, named for the NHL’s Rookie of the Year.
Boy does he deserve it though. Even before the season had started he was one of the top players for Team North America during the World Cup of Hockey.
The Season starts and Mr. Matthews scores 4 goals in his first game in the NHL, and he finishes his season with 4 goals in his last 4 games versus the President’s Trophy Winners the Capitals.
The most intriguing thing I found out of Auston was how calm, controlled and focused he still was in his worst stretches of hockey, early in the season he went roughly 13 straight games without a goal, and later on about 8 games. Yet he still played well, defensively and worked hard while never showing any frustration.
Awesome (as I like to call him) finished 2nd in the league in goals this season.
Tyler Bozak — B-
Bozak had his best total assists and points in his career this year. I think you can assume it’s more so cause Bozak played more games then other years, his line didn’t play versus top lines as often as before and Marner’s playmaking skills really helped this line acquire more opportunities.
Bozak is a great faceoff man, and still a solid all-around player.
Nazem Kadri — B+
Kadri found his role on the team this season.
With the big 3 rookies filling in on the top 9, Babcock was able to place players in to better holes on the roster. Babcock as well gave Kadri a job, a 3rd line checking center and Nazem took off from there.
While playing a more defensive role, Kadri was able to focus more on a specific job and got better at it. On some nights he had to try to shutdown top stars like McDavid and Crosby and he did that often.
While at the same time Kadri had a career high in goals and points. Surpassing 30 goals and being 2nd on the team putting the puck in the back of the net.
Frederick Gauthier — C+ (21 games)
Gauthier had some bad games and some decent games.
He shown he is very capable at being a depth center, decent on faceoffs and the penalty kill. He’s still a bit green and will need at least another year in the A, but he could be a possible shutdown depth quality centre for the Leafs in the future.
Brian Boyle — C (21 games)
After the trade from Tampa to Toronto Boyle lost some of his offensive punch he had prior to the trade, but he still showed why the Leafs added him. A solid depth center who can move up if needed too.
Zach Hyman — C+
Hyman has the blue collar work ethic but the vision and hands of depth player. At times Zach’s style worked well with Matthews as Hyman would either be the first to a puck or fight for it harder to take it away and try to get the puck to Auston. On other occasions there were many times when he went 7+ games without a goal, cause he couldn’t bury solid opportunities made by his linemates. Hyman does well on the penalty kill, I’d hope next year he’ll maybe get more ice-time versus less talented opposition, which could help his production.
James van Reimsdyk — B
This was one of JVR’s best seasons, which much like Bozak is I because of playing with the skilled playmaking of styles of Marner and not having to play versus top line talent as often this season.
van Reimsdyk has one of the softer hands in the league with a deft touch close in front of the net. Though I still feel he doesn’t play 100% day in a day out enough.
Leo Komarov — B-
Uncle Leo is not only a tenacious work horse, he’s a solid leader and annoying to play against. Komarov might not have had as great an offensive season compared to the previous one, but he helps the team in many other ways. His play on the penalty kill, work with Kadri and hard hits goes well with his solid play.
Matt Martin — D+
First off Martin’s contract is too high for a 4th line hitter who brings little else to the team.
He doesn’t play on a line to protect a younger skilled player, so that voids most of his skill. Martin usually ends up hurting his linemates (Soshnikov, Leivo, Kapanen) by not being able to play at their level and flubbing offensive plays/chances and lacking support on the backend as well.
William Nylander — A-
Will Nye the goal scoring guy was another rookie who put up over 60 points for the Leafs this season (Matthews/Marner the other two).
Nylander might be the 3rd of the big 3, but his slick play, speed and vision is very elite. He broke the Maple Leafs record of 10 straight games with a point.
William also got better supporting his defence as the season went along, something that lacked early in his game.
Mitch Marner — A-
Marner’s unique vision is what breaks him apart from other players. He is able to turn a play from practically nothing into a great scoring opportunity with a pass or deke most wouldn’t be able to even think off. Mitzy broke the Maple Leafs rookie assist record, and of course is a part of the Big 3 that were all at the top of rookie scoring.
Connor Brown — B
The rookie no one talks about. Brown had a solid season with 20 goals, not many rookies can say that.
The Torontonian is one of the few that plays for the crest on the front of his jersey for the passion he’s had since he was a little one.
Nikita Soshnikov — C+
Soshnikov was the only offense the 4th line had this season (except for when other solid rookies Leivo/Kapanen were filling in for him) It was odd watching Sosh play while his line mates couldn’t keep up. Nikita also played well on the penalty kill as well.
To find out if these guys had a better first or second half, check out the Maple Leafs 2017 – Half Season Report Card