Credit Leafs’ (slightly) older players for playoff run, too

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Much of the focus regarding the Toronto Maple Leafs’ run to a playoff spot revolves around Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander. Failing that, people fawn over the job Mike Babcock’s done integrating those new pieces.

But … let’s take a moment to give some other key, not-quite-as-young figures some credit, too.

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The easiest way to illustrate this mix of new and near-new is to look at the ages and point totals of the Maple Leafs’ top 10 scorers:

1. Auston Matthews – 19 years old, 69 points
2. James van Riemsdyk – 27, 62 points
3. Nazem Kadri – 26, 61 points
3. William Nylander – 20, 61 points
3. Mitch Marner – 19, 61 points
6. Tyler Bozak – 30, 55 points
7. Jake Gardiner – 26, 43 points
8. Connor Brown – 23, 36 points
8. Nikita Zaitsev 25, 36 points
10. Leo Komarov – 30, 32 points

Again, there’s nothing wrong with highlighting the Buds’ ridiculous bounty of rookie difference-makers.

There’s a feel-good story to long-suffering Leafs such as JVR, Kadri and Bozak enjoying some glory. It doesn’t seem like we need to #FreeJakeGardiner any longer.