Keefe, Mikheyev & Dreaming of Oettinger

In this issue of Toronto Maple Leafs News & Rumors, I take a look at some news from the team. Second, I will look at the news and comment that Ilya Mikheyev’s agent says nice things about the Maple Leafs as an organization.

Related: Maple Leafs should extend Ilya Mikheyev now

Third, I’m looking at what’s shaping up to be an interesting Stanley Cup final, given the very different makeup of the teams competing for the NHL championship. What’s happening there could tell a story about the potential of playoff success for the Maple Leafs because of the way the team is set up.

Point one: Keefe is now in the top 10 for longevity in NHL coaching

With Bruce Cassidy, Barrydiot, and Pete DeBoer no longer serving as NHL coaches, Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe suddenly moved to the ninth place on the list of the NHL’s longest-serving coaches.

with today’s move to Boston, here with the 10 longest tenure coaches in the #NHL. Seems like Berube got the blues job https://t.co/7ERTKmwL1O just yesterday

But how long will Coach Keefe be able to last with the Maple Leafs? Fans seem to think – and maybe they’re right – that he’s linked to Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas. And if team management is listening to the fans at all, these two seem to be on a tightrope. There was an apparent dislike of how the team was being run and should the team not do well next season, who knows?

Coach Keefe led his team to a franchise-record 115-point season, but even then, some fans believe that’s not good enough. That kind of regular-season success means little to many fans. However, in a strong Eastern Conference, where every playoff team totaled more than 100 points, that kind of success will be harder to replicate.

See also: A Brief History of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum

Seven NHL head coaching positions are currently vacant. It’s a job with, ironically, less stability with a single team, but strong stability as a manager in general. While coaches at one team appear to be losing a job, they are often quickly hired by another. Smart Money suggests that’s likely to happen again this offseason.

Point two: Milstein is doing well, does Michejew want to stay?

Given Ilya Mikheyev’s trade inquiry last offseason, I was surprised when news broke that his agent Dan Milstein, who is reportedly set to speak with Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas in a couple of weeks, had nice things about it Team and the team says organization. Nothing may come of the positive language, but it also indicates that the contract negotiations will not be antagonistic.

Ilya Mikheyev Toronto Maple Leafs
Ilya Mikheyev, Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Gerry Angus/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

As reported by The Athletics Pierre LeBrun, Milstein, noted that the Maple Leafs’ organization was “world class” and he appreciates how well the team treated Mikheyev as a player. Ultimately, however, Mikheyev may have had too good a season and his salary demands for Toronto may be too high. He scored 21 goals in just 53 games after returning from surgery in the 2021-22 season. (from “LeBrun: Johnny Gaudreau, Evgeni Malkin, Ilya Mikheyev and Other Upcoming UFA Updates, Pierre LeBrun, the athlete07.06.2022).

Point three: What happens in the Stanley Cup Finals matters to the Maple Leafs

As a Maple Leafs fan and writer, I believe the organization has done a pretty good job of putting together a decent lineup season after season. I’ve also become even more impressed with the team this postseason by watching the Tampa Bay Lightning play throughout the tournament. They have a tough time against the New York Rangers; however, and one of those teams will face the Colorado Avalanche in the Stanley Cup Finals.

See also: Today in Hockey History: June 9th

The Rangers and Lightning are more similar as teams than both are like the Avalanche. Both have elite goalies in Andrei Vasilevskiy (Lightning) and Igor Shesterkin (Rangers). The truth is that if one of the Eastern Conference teams dominates the Avalanche in the Stanley Cup Finals, it’s bad news for the Maple Leafs. However, should the Avalanche be able to beat either the Lightning or the Rangers, that’s better news for the Maple Leafs.

Jack Campbell Toronto Maple Leafs
Jack Campbell, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

As much as I like Jack Campbell, even if we sign him and he’s playing well, he hasn’t shown that he’s in the same rare status that either Vasilevskiy or Shesterkin hold. He could, but not yet. Just a wild thought. Jake Oettinger of the Dallas Stars is an RFA in the offseason. One can dream, right?

What’s next for the Maple Leafs?

I’m really interested in what happens to a defender’s snarling Russian bear Ilya Lyubushkin that the team got back for Nick Ritchie. I know there are rumors that he will probably continue with another team because the Maple Leafs’ defense is so deep right now. Still, I’d love to see him re-sign with the team.

See also: Maple Leafs’ Dubas pulls the bear out of his hat

Obviously I have no way of knowing what will happen in the off-season and so many things seem to be going on behind the scenes with trade talks ahead of July 13th, 2022 when the action begins. But the more I think about it, the more I think Justin Holl might be off somewhere else.

At the end of July a flood of hockey activities begins with plenty to think about and write about. I look forward to it. It’s a fun time of the off-season.

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