May 30, 2023

In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs’ News & Rumors, we have a trade to report. This morning the Maple Leafs sent Denis Malgin to the Colorado Avalanche for forward Dryden Hunt. 

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In this post, I’ll also look at news about Mac Hollowell, Timothy Liljegren, and Conor Timmins. The team is getting ready for its annual Christmas break and there are two games remaining before then.

Item 1: Denis Malgin Traded to Avalanche for Dryden Hunt

The Maple Leafs pulled off a trade with the Avalanche. They sent Swiss forward Denis Malgin to the Avalanche for British Columbia-native Dryden Hunt. The 27-year-old Hunt has 14 goals and added 28 assists (for 42 points) in his six-year NHL career, spending time with the Florida Panthers, Arizona Coyotes, New York Rangers, and the Avalanche. 

So far this season, Hunt has played 28 games split between the Avalanche and the Rangers, with two goals. Good luck to Malgin in Colorado.

Item 2: Mac Hollowell Moved Up & Down Again

The Maple Leafs have benefitted from having the Toronto Marlies in the same practice facility. Can anyone imagine what Mac Hollowell’s waiver situation would look like if the organization’s American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate were an airplane ride away? The Edmonton Oilers’ AHL affiliate is in Bakersfield, California, so player moves are far more difficult than changing dressing rooms – or whatever the organization does when they move players back and forth between the Marlies and Maple Leafs.

Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Rielly, Hollowell, Benn & Mete

For the umpteenth time, Hollowell was called up from the Marlies on an emergency basis on Saturday. He had been sent down just days before (on Wednesday); however, Timothy Liljegren’s hand injury made his game action iffy. As a result, Hollowell moved up again when the Maple Leafs thought they might need him as an extra defenseman. 

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Yesterday, Hollowell moved back to the AHL. He has registered two assists in six NHL games this season.

Item 3: Maple Leafs Get Lucky with Liljegren Injury

Speaking of Liljegren, the team was lucky that he could play on Saturday. The first word was that he would likely be out of action after suffering what was called an upper-body injury (later learned to be a hand injury).

Related: Maple Leafs Commentary: Who’s Better, Liljegren, Sandin or Holl?

Liljegren hurt his hand when he blocked a shot against the New York Rangers on Thursday. Although the hand swelled up, X-rays proved negative. This season, the 23-year-old defenseman has two goals and five points in 20 games. He played over 19 minutes in Saturday’s game against the Washington Capitals.

Mitch Marner John Tavares Timothy Liljegren Celebrate Toronto Maple Leafs
Mitch Marner, John Tavares, and Timothy Liljegren celebrate a goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs
(Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Liljegren and his partner Rasmus Sandin have helped hold the team’s defence together. Both have handled the added responsibility of covering for injured teammates well.

Item 4: Conor Timmins Has Been a Revelation

Conor Timmins is playing far better than people expected when he came to the team. As Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe noted, Timmins plays with his head up. He’s adept at quick passes to move the puck out of the defensive zone. He’s also one of the bigger players on the ice at 6-foot-2 – next to Justin Holl.

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The Maple Leafs’ puck possession game seems to suit Timmins’ skill set perfectly, and general manager Kyle Dubas clearly knew that when he brought him to the team. Dubas also drafted Timmins when he was general manager of the Ontario Hockey League’s Soo Greyhounds (from “Conor Timmins sticks on Leafs blue line after year lost in the desert,” Kevin McGran, Toronto Star, 18/12/2022).

What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?

It’s less than a week before Christmas, and the team only plays two games before the NHL breaks for the holidays. The league will not play games between Dec. 23-26. Before the break, the Maple Leafs will play the Tampa Bay Lightning tomorrow night and then the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday in what’s become a new tradition – a 2 PM matinee game.

Auston Matthews Toronto Maple Leafs Andrei Vasilevskiy Tampa Bay Lightning
Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning makes a save on Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

This will be the second time the Maple Leafs meet both teams this season. They lost to the Lightning, 4-3, in overtime on Dec. 3 and beat the Flyers 5-2 on Nov. 2.

On Boxing Day the Toronto Marlies will meet the Belleville Senators at Scotiabank Arena.

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