Free washer | Did Sheldon Keefe just hit the jackpot?

Will Sheldon Keefe thank the Maple Leafs for firing him last week? Does he inherit in New Jersey a more interesting training for his future as a coach? Let’s see the numbers of his old team and his new one.


Published at 12:30 p.m.

Keefe leaves a club, Toronto, whose average age is just over 29, for one of the youngest teams in the NHL, the Devils, at 26.7. The Maple Leafs finished tenth overall, with 102 points, New Jersey in 23e place with only 81 points. But a year earlier, with essentially the same young roster, the Devils amassed one more point than Toronto, and reached the second round, like the Leafs.

The Devils have two first-round centers aged 23 and 25, two first overall picks, Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier. The former would likely have had a second straight season of 100 or more points, were it not for an injury. The second, recognized for his defensive qualities, nevertheless came close to a point per match. Hughes is under contract until 2030, Hischier’s contract expires in 2027.

The Leafs’ number one center, Auston Matthews, 26, has just finished first in NHL scorers with 69 goals. He has four years left on his contract. Behind him, captain John Tavares, 34 years old in September, will be entitled to complete autonomy in a year. He has just had his most modest season offensively since his first year in the NHL with 65 points in 80 games, and only two points in seven playoff games.

Toronto has a better strike force on the wings with William Nylander and Mitch Marner. They both produced at a rate close to 100 points prorated over a full season. But Marner, like Tavares, will be eligible for full free agency starting in July 2025 and there is some question as to whether he will be traded by then. There is less depth afterwards. Tyler Bertuzzi has had a modest year and could test the free agent market soon. Matthew Knies shows great promise. He had 35 points at 21 years old.

The forces are a little better distributed in New Jersey with the astonishing Jesper Bratt, 25 years old, 83 points last year, under contract until 2031, Timo Meier, 27 years old, 52 points, including 28 goals, in only 69 matches, Dawson Mercer, Alexander Holtz and Ondrej Palat.

The big difference between these two teams is on defense. Toronto left its two veterans, Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie, on the press box in the playoffs. Ilya Lyubushkin and Simon Benoit were inserted into the top 4 a little by force of circumstances. Lyubushkin is an unrestricted free agent, as is Joel Edmundson, the most used defenseman in the playoffs after Morgan Rielly and Jake McCabe. This defense must be rebuilt.

The Devils have two of the NHL’s brightest future defensemen in Simon Nemec, the second overall pick in 2022, and Luke Hughes, the fourth pick a year earlier. But there is also John Marino, 27 years old, who will look to bounce back after a less brilliant season, and Dougie Hamilton, 31 years old in June, from whom we hope for a healthy return to New Jersey. His long absence hurt last winter. He had 74 points, including 22 goals, the previous season.

Both the Devils and the Leafs do not have a top goaltender at the moment. Jake Allen is number one by default for the moment while waiting for reinforcements to arrive. We want to see Joseph Woll, 25, blossom in Toronto. The disappointing Ilya Samsonov is an unrestricted free agent.

From a longer-term perspective, the Devils hold the tenth overall pick in this summer’s draft, with the Maple Leafs holding the 23rd.e. Both clubs no longer have a second-round pick, but the Devils will draw twice in the third round, the Leafs once. New Jersey has picks in the first two rounds in 2025. Toronto, as of now, would not draft until the fifth round in 2025. They traded their first round pick to the Maple Leafs for Jake McCabe and Sam Lafferty in 2023, and their second and third round picks for Ilya Lyubushkin in two separate deals, in 2024 and 2022.

Sheldon Keefe will also work in a much more relaxed market. He won the lottery!

Marchessault in Vegas to stay?

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PHOTO TONY GUTIERREZ, ASSOCIATED PRESS ARCHIVES

Jonathan Marchessault

Pierre Lebrun provides his readers with a wealth of information on possible unrestricted free agents this morning. Among these, news on Jonathan Marchessault, who seems destined to sign a contract extension with the Golden Knights.

The informant reminds us of the statements of GM Kelly McCrimmon during his end-of-season review: “ Marchy belongs to our core. He has just had the season of his career (42 goals at age 33). We love the player and his value also extends to the dressing room. He is an important leader. There is a very strong desire on both sides to come to an agreement. »

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