COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 22: Matt Calvert #11 of the Columbus Blue Jackets and William Nylander #29 of the Toronto Maple Leafs battle for a loose puck during the first period of a game on March 22, 2017 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Travis Dermott discusses his goal of making the big club, Pierre McGuire follows up last year’s playoffs projection for the Leafs with a home-ice advantage prediction, William Nylander confirms preliminary contract talks with the club, and more in the links.

Leafs Links

Dermott on potentially cracking the Leafs’ roster: ‘That’s my goal’ (TSN)
Toronto Marlies defenceman Travis Dermott explains how it’s his goal to crack the Maple Leafs‘ roster this season, and how a year in the AHL has given him plenty of confidence heading into this year’s camp.

On Lamoriello’s comment that an unnamed Marlies defenceman may be ready for the Leafs:

I obviously didn’t [read] too much into that. I’m not assuming who he was talking about. Hopefully I can prove that guy can be me.

On entering his second professional season:

I’ll have that confidence that I can play in the AHL. Coming into camp, I’ll be a little more confident and maybe have more of a leadership role and be more comfortable in who I am. It’s exciting.

Nylander on contract extension: ‘I’m just focused on the season right now’ (TSN)
Entering the final year of his entry-level contract, Maple Leafs forward William Nylander says he isn’t worried about it and is “just focused on the season right now”. Nylander also talks about the big expectations on the team this year, and how the new additions will help them get to the next level.

They’ve talked a little bit, but we’ll see what happens. I’m just more focused on the season right now.

Dreger: Leafs want Nylander’s contract signed sooner than later (TSN1050)
TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger joined Andi Petrillo and Gord Miller to discuss if the NHL could change the draft age to 19, expectations on the Maple Leafs this season and the report that William Nylander and the Leafs have had very early contract talks.

On whether he’s hearing anything about potential player movement by the Leafs:

No, not yet. Obviously, predictably, that is going to heat up. In this market, it becomes daily fodder for this type of conversation. It doesn’t appear, at least in the conversations I’m having, that Lou is very active when I last checked — this is going back a couple of weeks. A lot can change in the coming days. I was told they were done; done in terms of getting ready and getting solidified for training camp. And then they’ll go through their process with the exhibition season and early in the regular season.  There are still some available players out there when you look at the blue line of, say, Las Vegas. I’m not suggesting Toronto was in on Matt Duchene in Colorado, but there were all sorts of scenarios that were at least thrown out there leading up to the draft and after the draft, including Colorado being involved in a three-way where Duchene would go here and this player would go there. I can’t dismiss any of that involving the Toronto Maple Leafs in some form.

On whether the Leafs want to get a contract done sooner than later with Nylander:

I think that wise hockey executives do pay attention to what happens around them. If Pete Chiarelli could hit the rewind button and go back to last summer with Leon Draisaitl, of course he would do that. Toronto has to be looking at that situation and going, “Okay, so how much do we believe in these young guys” at this point. If they believe in them, it’s probably wise spending to get it done as soon as possible.

Maple Leafs’ Mitch Marner has ardour for the Argonauts (Toronto Star)
“A friend recommended I come out and I ended up liking it and just kept going back,” said Marner, after skating Thursday with teammates at the MasterCard Centre in preparation for the opening of NHL training camps next week. “Since they moved to BMO, I’m a big fan of going there and watching. This city loves its teams, no matter what team it is, no matter what sport it is.”

McGuire: Expect Leafs to be a “home ice” team in the playoffs (TSN1050)
NBC Hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Naylor & Landsberg to discuss Patrick Marleau’s impact on the Maple Leafs, where to expect the team to finish this year, rumours of Matt Duchene not reporting to the Avalanche training camp, the NHL announcing a delay of game penalty will be given for a failed offside challenge, and more.

On where he’d slot Patrick Marleau in the lineup:

Probably with Auston to start and see how it goes from there. The one thing I know with Patrick, from all of the time he’s been around the league, is he’s not afraid to play in big moments. He and Joe Thornton for the longest time had a tremendous on ice and off ice relationship but especially on ice.  That’s the thing about Patrick — he can mould himself into helping any team situation, whether you need a big penalty kill, a big forecheck, some insulation for a young player… whatever it is. I’d probably start him with Auston.

If Mike Babcock delegates Nazem Kadri and Patrick Marleau and Brown — for the sake of argument, let’s just say that’s the line — they’re going to be relied on to shut down elite players. That’s going to be their job, so you can’t count on them as much for goals. But I don’t think with Patrick it would be that big of a drop off. You can still rely on power play time for him. You might be starting about a 5-7 goal spread, but not a lot more than that, I don’t think.

On his expectations for the 2017-18 Maple Leafs:

I know a lot of people think they’re going to take a step back only because that’s what usually happens. I’m not going there. I think they’re going to be a home-ice team in the Eastern Conference.

‘Going in blind’: Marleau easygoing ahead of Maple Leafs camp (Toronto Sun)
“His skill level,” Marleau agreed in praise of Matthews. “Obviously Auston can score. When you give him the puck there’s a good chance it will end up in the back of the net. Playing with highly skilled players is fun. If you have the puck, then the majority of time you’re not chasing it.”

How big a cap hit is Leafs Nylander worth? (TSN)
William Nylander’s contract expires after this season and with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner future deals on the horizon, That’s Hockey discusses how big a cap hit Nylander’s worth.

Mike Johnston: I think he will fall very comfortable in the 6.5-7 [range] depending on how late this contract goes and how good his start goes. We’re talking about a guy who is 21 years old, had 20+ goals, 60+ points, has shown he score internationally, can score in the playoffs, can score in big moments. He can play center in the future. For of these reasons, if you’re going to give him term, it’s going to be 6.5-7, and that’s okay. That’s an appropriate number for him to have. You can have multiple high-paid players on your team like the Penguins did last year. We know Matthews and Marner are going to get their money. First up, Nylander will get his and he will deserve it.

Most intriguing young players to watch at camp for every NHL team (The Athletic)
Toronto: Travis Dermott, D: Dermott had a good rookie AHL season, particularly through the second half and into the playoffs. If he maintains, never mind improves, on that level of play, he could be a guy that makes the Leafs out of camp. With that in mind, as a second-year pro I’m looking to see if he can be a force at NHL camp like he was in the AHL, making a lot of stops and moving the puck at a high level.

Nylander hopes his productive offseason follows him into 2nd campaign (NP)
“It was a good year and we have to come back and be hungry again this year,” said Nylander, speaking for the first time since returning to Toronto this week. “We can improve even more. I think we have expectations too of our own, so I think we want to go just as far as the fans do.”

Pats’ Smart happy to get the call from Leafs (Regina Leader-Post)
Smart’s message was received by the Toronto Maple Leafs, who invited him to their summer development camp in July. He also received a follow-up invitation to join the team for a rookie tournament this weekend in Toronto. “I’m going in there to be a sponge and take in everything I can but you have to go in with some confidence and play your game,” noted Smart, 18. “Obviously they liked something (they saw). I’m just trying to go there and prove them right and try to do good things.”