Connect with us

Toronto Maple Leafs

Maple Leafs Set to Make Some Changes on Special Teams

What new looks will the Toronto Maple Leafs offer on special teams this year? There are bound to be some changes.

The 2020-21 NHL season is approaching quickly and early predictions in the North Division are that the Toronto Maple Leafs are considered a heavy favorite. The rich kids up front, an improved blue line on the back end and a better backup have insiders predicting a strong season. But, what about special teams where the results have been a mixed bag?

Related: Put Up or Shut Up Time for Maple Leafs With 2020-21 Season Officially On

With so much talent, the power play should be strong. Sixth in the NHL last season and producing at a 23.1% clip in 2029-20, it will be interesting to see how new power play coach Manny Malhotra sinks his teeth into this group.

Malhotra takes over for Paul McFarland and the belief is he might make some significant changes. Including, but not limited to adding KHL Defenceman of the Year Mikko Lehtonen to quarterback the second unit, this may be only the tip of the iceberg in terms of how the Maple Leafs switch things up.

As Luke Fox of Sportsnet asks, “But how does Toronto maximize Thornton’s vision and Simmonds’ net presence here?” He wonders if the the Leafs will split up the top unit guys to make room for different looks? Will someone like Nick Robertson get an opportunity, assuming he makes the team out of camp?

Fox believes there are bound to be changes, noting, “Surely all that jostling of personnel will result in some fresh 5-on-4 and 4-on-5 strategies.”

What About the Terrible Penalty Kill?

Unlike the power play, which has been mostly effective for Toronto, the penalty kill has been an obvious weakness. In 2019-20, the team ranked 21st, successfully stopping the opposition at a clip of 77.7 per cent. They did well to only allow five short-handed goals, but that was on the seventh fewest attempts against in the league last season.

Zach Bogosian Maple Leafs
Zach Bogosian Maple Leafs

Fox suggests there will be changes there too. He explains:

“Safe to say, bruisy defenceman Bogosian will play a prominent role in helping to reverse this trend. But who else? Does Vesey create extra value for himself here? Does Engvall use the PK as his path into the lineup? Do the Maple Leafs realize the value of using a centreman on the top penalty killing unit?”

One thing to consider is that with so many games in a short amount of time and against teams the Leafs will see over and over, it’s probably best to have different looks. As the Montreal Canadiens and other organizations figure out the Leafs gameplan over the season, switching things up might be a necessity, not just an option coach Sheldon Keefe might want to consider.

Next: Perry Excited For Things to Get Heated as Part of Canadiens Roster

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

More News

More in Toronto Maple Leafs