It’s Toronto Maple Leafs day on PHT

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Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Toronto Maple Leafs.

After missing out of the playoffs for a franchise-worst seventh consecutive season, the Toronto Maple Leafs entered the 2013 campaign with a relatively new ownership group, a new GM in Dave Nonis, and the same starting goaltender.

Despite months of speculation that Roberto Luongo would come to Toronto, netminder James Reimer was given a chance at redemption after his rough sophomore campaign and he took advantage of it. With a 2.46 GAA and topnotch .924 save percentage, Reimer was one of the main reasons the Toronto Maple Leafs finally ended their playoff drought.

Of course, he didn’t do it alone. Even with Joffrey Lupul missing most of the season, the Maple Leafs still excelled offensively thanks to Phil Kessel, newcomer James van Riemsdyk, and the rise of 22-year-old forward Nazem Kadri.

Toronto faced off against the Bruins in the first round and fell behind 3-1 to Boston in the series. Still, they fought back to the point where they had a commanding 4-1 lead near the midway point of the third period in Game 7. Ultimately, they left the crowd at Boston’s TD Gardens ecstatic and Leafs fans in shock by allowing the lead to slip away.

That dramatic 5-4 overtime loss is how their season ended and it’s what hangs over their head as they prepare for the 2013-14 campaign.

Offseason recap

The Toronto Maple Leafs made use of their compliance buyouts by getting rid of Mike Komisarek and Mikhail Grabovski’s contracts. Grabovski took the news hard and reacted by calling Leafs coach Randy Carlyle an “[expletive] idiot.”

Despite those maneuvers, the Maple Leafs are in a tough cap position after acquiring Dave Bolland from the Chicago Blackhawks, re-signing Tyler Bozak to a five-year, $21 million contract, and inking unrestricted free agent David Clarkson to a seven-year, $36.75 million deal.

Additionally, Toronto traded for goaltender Jonathan Bernier to battle Reimer for the starting job. Bernier comes with a $2.9 million annual cap hit and the Maple Leafs agreed to retain $500,000 in cap space when they sent Ben Scrivens and Matt Frattin to Los Angeles in the same trade.

Toronto now has a little over $4 million in cap space left, according to Cap Geek, but they still need to re-sign restricted free agents Cody Franson and Kadri.

Related:

Introducing: PHT’s ‘Team of the Day’ summer series

Auston Matthews keeps goal streak alive, gives Leafs 1-0 lead in third

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These are the moments Toronto Maple Leafs fans were dreaming about when they drafted Auston Matthews. At least those bold enough to picture such great things, so soon in his career.

Speaking of so soon … that’s not how you’d describe a 1-0 goal happening in the third period of a game in this Leafs – Washington Capitals series, but it took that long to break the ice in Game 6.

It took a very lucky bounce for the puck to find its way to Matthews … but the finish was pure skill. With that, the remarkable rookie now has a goal in four straight games (with an assist thrown in for good measure).

The lead wouldn’t last long, however, as Marcus Johansson scored to tie it 1-1.

Things could get awfully nervous for Toronto as they try to force a decisive Game 7 in Washington, but that was a huge goal by Matthews either way.

Clarke MacArthur, Craig Anderson made Sens win that much more emotional

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It could have been over for Clarke MacArthur plenty of times during his turbulent NHL career. Scratch that, his turbulent hockey career.

His team walked away from his salary arbitration award. MacArthur’s seen plenty of people give up on him. And then, when he finally found a home with the Ottawa Senators, concussion issues threatened to end his playing days.

Yet, there he was on Sunday … drawing a penalty in overtime and then scoring on the ensuing power play to help the Senators advance beyond the Boston Bruins.

He didn’t deny that he imagined very different possibilities during his darker moments.

And, as uplifting as his story was – seriously, just watch this interview and try not to root for the guy – it wasn’t the only emotionally charged moment from Game 6.

Nicholle Anderson was on hand to cheer on Craig Anderson in this one, and the two were able to embrace after the contest:

As violent and intense as the playoffs can often be, MacArthur and Anderson reminded us of the gentler human side of it all.

Erik Karlsson played through hairline fractures in foot to help Sens advance

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Remember when many were keeping an eye on Erik Karlsson after he was seemingly cramping up after logging more than 40 minutes in an OT contest against the Boston Bruins?

It’s possible he was also dealing with that sort of ailment, but he earned some “hockey tough” kudos on Sunday after word surfaced that the Ottawa Senators defenseman was dealing with hairline fractures in his left heel through the series.

Sportsnet’s Jason York refers to the issue as “two small fractures” while ESPN’s Joe McDonald went into specifics, noting that Karlsson explains that the injury happened on March 28 (and was why he missed some games late in the season).

There’s some optimism as the Senators ready for the New York Rangers, at least according to Karlsson.

Hmm.

Either way, that’s impressive stuff from the Senators defenseman, and the sort of information that usually only surfaces after a team has been eliminated. We’ll see if he’s hindered by such issues as the playoffs go along.

Gaudreau, Granlund and Tarasenko: 2017 Lady Byng finalists

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The NHL officially announced the nominees for the 2017 Lady Byng on Sunday, and they’re a star-studded bunch: Johnny Gaudreau, Mikael Granlund and Vladimir Tarasenko.

The PHWA determines “the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”

(Did Tarasenko help eliminate Granlund’s team in a gentlemanly fashion?)

For more on the three finalists, click here.