Dark horses or unlikely long shots?
For those whose want Toronto to step in a time machine to the days of more physical (truculent even) hockey, here’s your candidate. He’s the Leafs’ biggest hitter, best agitator, and like Rielly, has been here for the long haul.
Much like that haul, this is a long shot.
Another candidate for the “not Matthews or Tavares” solution, Mitch Marner is just as important to Toronto as those two. His line with Tavares and Hyman has leapfrogged Matthews line this season for top ice-time and pregame billing. Sure, Tavares helps but Marner’s playmaking ability has made him a league-wide star.
It’s another long shot, but Marner would be an interesting captain for Toronto. Giving him the “C” would fully commit to the apparent game plan of using small forward.
I almost feel bad for including him in this conversation, but he’s the candidate a few people seem to think will fit the bill.
Simply put, if you think that you’re wrong.
Marleau has been a great veteran presence on this team over the past few seasons, acting as a lockerroom father figure to Marner and Matthews. However, his cap hit next season makes him a very undesirable player to have on the team (monetarily, of course) and he is as confirmed as he could be to not resign with the team.