Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews is already a nominee for the Lady Byng Trophy and on Thursday was nominated for the Hart Trophy, along with Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon and Edmonton’s Connor McDavid, for being “the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team”.
Matthews scored a league-leading 41 goals in 52 games last season, becoming the first player in Maple Leafs history to capture the “Rocket” Richard Trophy and the first Toronto player to lead the NHL in goals since Gaye Stewart in 1945-46. The 23-year-old Scottsdale, AZ native is the first Leafs Hart Trophy finalist since Doug Gilmour in 1993 and led the NHL with 12 game-winning goals and 222 shots on goal, accounted for 22.0 percent of Toronto’s 186 total goals (excluding the shootout) – the highest single-season percentage by any NHL player since 2014-15 (Alex Ovechkin: 22.4% w/ WSH) and the best single-season mark by a Maple Leafs player in the expansion era (since 1967-68).
The Maple Leafs may have a large amount of roster changeover in the wake of another disappointing early exit from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with 18 unrestricted free agents this summer and two straight years of underachievement with their American Hockey League affiliate. The beginning of that changeover occurred on Thursday, as iSport in the Czech Republic reports that defenseman Martin Marincin will sign with HC Ocelari Trinec in the Czech Extraliga.
The 29-year-old Slovakian played 227 games over five seasons with the Leafs and was on the Toronto Marlies 2018 Calder Cup winning squad, but is more known for a Forrest Gump-like ability to display his ineffectual and limited play at the worst possible times.
Marincin was the second-longest tenured member of the Leafs organization behind Morgan Rielly after being acquired from the Edmonton Oilers in 2015, and his surviving with the club for six seasons is a testament to how weak the Toronto defense has been throughout most of the Shanahan era.
There have been a number of blueliners throughout the last two decades who belong on the Leafs Defensive Wall of Shame. Such immortals as Cory Cross, Aki-Petteri Berg, Jyrki Lumme and Anders Eriksson come to mind and Marty M will now take his place on that ignominious list.
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