Cam Tucker

Reason for optimism: Youthful Maple Leafs bring down the Bruins

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Before the puck dropped in Toronto on Saturday, the Maple Leafs paid tribute to historic players from their past.

When the celebration ended, those tasked with bringing a bright future to the franchise, celebrating its 100th season, delivered.

All the hype the last few days has been about Auston Matthews. He scored four goals in his NHL debut on Wednesday — a historic feat.

Against the Boston Bruins on Saturday, as Matthews was making his much anticipated home debut in Toronto, it was clear the future doesn’t just revolve around No. 34, though that’s not to undermine how significant he will be to the potential success of this franchise going forward.

The Leafs had a hot start, ripping three goals past Bruins back-up goalie Anton Khudobin before the game was even 15 minutes old. They cruised to a 4-1 victory, making amends for that overtime loss to Ottawa to begin the season.

Mitch Marner, the fourth overall pick from the 2015 Draft, scored his first NHL goal and what a beauty it was. He had another dominant shift later in the game, leading to a Toronto power play.

Connor Brown, a Leafs sixth-round pick from 2012 and a 22-year-old prospect that has developed with the Marlies in the AHL, also scored in the win.

Frederik Andersen stopped 24 of 25 shots faced for the win, as he made up for a rather shaky debut in the opener.

It’s two games for the Leafs in the Auston Matthews Era. They have three of a possible four points so far. Growing pains are still to be expected with this young group moving forward.

But after years of gloom for Leafs fans, there may be reason to be optimistic about the future.

Coyotes’ Strome scratched versus Flyers, will have to wait for NHL debut

SUNRISE, FL - JUNE 26:  Third overall pick Dylan Strome of the Arizona Coyotes poses for a portrait during the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center on June 26, 2015 in Sunrise, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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On a night when more young players are making their mark in the NHL, Dylan Strome‘s debut for the Arizona Coyotes will wait another day.

Strome, selected third overall in 2015, is officially a healthy scratch for Saturday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers.

The possibility of this development was raised yesterday, but the decision was made for good prior to puck drop.

“Obviously, it’s disappointing,” Strome told AZCentral.com. “But it’s the NHL. It’s not an easy league, so you just gotta keep working hard and keep doing what they’re asking of you and wait for your chance to get in the lineup and do your best when you get in.”

Meanwhile, Christian Dvorak, Lawson Crouse, and Jakob Chychrun all make their NHL debuts for the Coyotes.

Video: Stamkos finishes off pretty passing play for Bolts

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 15:  Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning takes a break during a off-day practice session prior to Game Two of the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 15, 2016 at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Steven Stamkos scored his first goal of the new season — tapping the puck into a wide open net to finish off a pretty passing play during Saturday’s game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and New Jersey Devils.

Remember: Keep that stick on the ice.

Ondrej Palat made an absolutely perfect pass to Stamkos as he was speeding toward the net. We also couldn’t forget to mention the nice move through the neutral zone from Jonathan Drouin, as he forced the Devils’ defenders to back in, setting up for the pass.

Video: Marner scores first NHL goal on perfect shot

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Oh yeah, the Toronto Maple Leafs have Mitch Marner, too.

Selected fourth overall in the 2015 NHL Draft, the 19-year-old Marner scored the first goal of his NHL career on Saturday.

It was a beauty, too.

He picked up the puck with speed and a confident move in the neutral zone, and then ripped a perfect shot blocker side on Boston Bruins goalie Anton Khudobin.

All the excitement surrounding the Leafs the last few days has been all about Auston Matthews, which is no surprise given what he did in his NHL debut earlier this week and his home debut Saturday.

But Toronto’s group of skilled, young forwards goes beyond Matthews. And Marner provided further evidence of that versus the Bruins.

 

 

Report: Blue Jackets suspend Campbell for failing to report to AHL

NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 20:  Gregory Campbell #9 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates during an NHL hockey game against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on March 20, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. Devils won 2-1.  (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
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Gregory Campbell was put on waivers by the Columbus Blue Jackets earlier in the week. He eventually cleared, but he has decided not to report to the American Hockey League, as per the Columbus Dispatch.

“Gregory will not be reporting, no,” Campbell’s agent Pat Morris told the Dispatch. “He’s going to continue to skate on his own and ponder his future, but he’s not going to play in the American League and take a position away from a young player.

“He was a young player at one point in time, and older players didn’t come in and take his position away. He doesn’t want to do that.”

And, as of Saturday evening, that means the Blue Jackets will suspend the veteran forward, although Columbus is still seeking to trade Campbell if they can.

Campbell is now 32 years old, scoring only three goals and 11 points in 82 games last season.

Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets have decided to bring in some youth to their roster, which is now reportedly the youngest in the league.