With the exception of a few random successes in the past 20 or so I would best describe the Toronto Maple Leafs as nothing short of a mess. As a devout hockey fan who also used to be a part owner of the Maple Leafs (MLSE to be specific), I know I was often left scratching my head at the way the franchise was being run. However, a few years ago, they gutted the team from top to the bottom and I know Lou isn't getting as much credit as Shanahan (and the Shanaplan) but I honestly believe Lou has helped change the culture and through smart trades of Kessel and a little draft luck the Leafs are now loaded with talent.
IF you dig far enough into the Kessel trade you will see young Kapanen's name was involved as well as a draft pick which turned out to be Sam Steel. However, the pick ended up belonging to the Ducks as the Leafs traded the pick to land Frederik Andersen first and then the Ducks drafted Steel after. While this will never make up for what Kessel cost the Leafs in the first place, it's still a decent return which brings me back to Kapanen.
16-17 Upper Deck Series 2 Kasperi Kapanen Young Gun
I really really hope I am wrong about this but fact of the matter is I am always a realist first and dreamer second. The Calder Trophy for top rookie could be an interesting race this year. I don't believe it will come down to an amazing battle like last year where Murray, Laine, Marner, Nylander, Werenski or Matthews could conceivably have won it had they been paired against a different crop of rookies (ie like 2013 etc) but I do think that Nico Hischier, Nolan Patrick and Kasperi Kapanen will be battling some of the other rookies for the Calder. With that being said, I don't know if anyone will be Kapanen for the Calder. While he may not be as talented as the other top picks, he does have a few years of pro experience under his belt which will help and the depth the Leafs have now will ensure he gets some pretty good match ups against the other teams which he could exploit. I am going to go out on a limb and say he's my early prediction for the Calder though I am hopeful that Nico will come out on top in the end!
What are your thoughts? Any extremely early Calder predictions (Strome? Yost? Keller? Someone else?) Thanks for stopping by, my next post will be when I return and hopefully have some stuff about the Hockey Hall of Fame!