Leafs are searching for a center, but true greatness comes from within

Ryan Hobart
January 25 2017 09:59AM

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Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY SPORTS

According to Elliotte Friedman, the Leafs are looking for a center to help their depth . From the same piece, Tomas Jurco and Martin Hanzal are on the block, but I doubt either of them are targets for the Leafs.

It doesn't seem there are a lot of center options for the Maple Leafs to pursue. There's a potential to call St. Louis about pending UFA Patrik Berglund, to see if he's available. Acquiring him would be overdoing it a bit, but he's a really good player for the Leafs to shore up the center position with.

Two things appear to be at work here: the Leafs are not quite satisfied with Gauthier so far, and Ben Smith may still be a ways away. But is it possible there's an internal solution to this problem?

Heading into this season, one of the questions I had about the construction of the Leafs' roster was about the 4th line center position. We knew Auston Matthews was coming and was announced as the 3rd line center. This meant the obvious choices for 1st and 2nd line were Bozak and Kadri. But who would play on the 4th?

Some hoped Peter Holland had a chance to stake a claim on that role, but Babcock and the Leafs decided he wasn't a good enough fit there. Most of Holland success the past season had come on the wing, where he was also played in pre-season, so a long-term role at center likely wasn't in Babcock's plans for Holland anyways. After a few games trying him there, the Leafs claimed former Leaf Ben Smith, who got locked into this 4th line center role from then until his unfortunate hand injury. 

From then forward, for the last 15 games, it's been Frederik Gauthier. The much-bemoaned former 1st round pick of the Maple Leafs, Gauthier had a ridiculous start to this season, statistically. His Corsi numbers were in the high 30's, and his goal-share numbers were in the high 70's. It was amazing to see, for better or worse. 

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#BellLetsTalk

Kyla Lane
January 25 2017 07:00AM

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Everyone is entitled to mental health. Period. Unfortunately,  one in five Canadians will struggle with a mental illness, making mental health difficult to attain for many. With odds like that, each and every citizen of Canada will know at least one person who suffers from or has been affected by someone suffering from mental illness. And that’s why initiatives like Bell Let’s Talk Day are crucial in the quest of not only raising money for mental illness but bringing much-needed awareness to it.

I understand and apologize that this isn't a hockey article that you would normally come here to read, but this is a conversation that's definitely worth having. 

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NHLN Power Rankings: Jan. 24, 2017

Scott Maxwell
January 24 2017 04:32PM

It's time for your weekly dose of the NHL Numbers power rankings. I'll look at the five best and worst NHL teams thus far in the season, as well as the three best and worst players in the last week.

Note: All use of Corsi For and Expected Goals For are Score and Venue Adjusted, and at even strength. All stats come from Corsica Hockey, and NHL.com (don't worry, it's only the standings).

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Quick Numbers: Jets prospects thriving in the WHL

Garret Hohl
January 23 2017 04:00PM

The Winnipeg Jets have four prospects in the Western Hockey League, and all four of them are leading their teams in point per game scoring pace.

Let's take a closer look.

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NHLN Notebook: Predators finding themselves, Wild expansion issues, and a Shootout controversy

Christian Pagnani
January 23 2017 12:50PM

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The NHLN Notebook is a semi-regular feature of interesting hockey content from the past few days that doesn't quite deserve its own article. 

The Nashville Predators are finally getting things figured out after a forgettable start, and are looking like the team that was projected by many to be a Stanley Cup Contender. The Leafs lost to the Sens in a shootout, causing Leafs Twitter to question the validity of a skills competition deciding games. And finally, the Minnesota Wild have a wealth of solid blue liners on their roster, but with expansion looming, they're at risk of losing some of them for nothing. 

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