Maple Leafs news and rumors: Holmberg, Hunt and Aube-Kubel

In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs News & Rumors, I’ll take a look at news emerging from the team as it prepares to play the Winnipeg Jets tonight. The Jets got off to a rough start on their five-game road trip with a 4-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday.

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The Maple Leafs staged a thrilling comeback to beat the Florida Panthers 5-4 in overtime on home ice on Tuesday. Ilya Samsonov, who relieved Matt Murray in goal, and William Nylander, who had two goals in the game, were the team’s heroes in the win.

Item One: Pontus Holmberg returns to the AHL

Pontus Holmberg Was sent back to the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League (AHL) on Wednesday. He has missed his last two matches with an undisclosed illness, but is now healthy enough.

Pontus Holmberg Toronto Maple Leafs
Pontus Holmberg, Toronto Maple Leafs (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

It’s been a tough season for the 23-year-old Swedish winger, who, in the number six role with the Maple Leafs, has a reputation for not making too many mistakes and scoring in the secondary. Holmberg has four goals and seven assists (for 11 points) in 28 NHL games this season.

His return to the Marlies is a bit of a mystery; However, there are a number of possible reasons, including allowing the big club to see how Bobby McMann or Dryden Hunt can turn out by giving playing time or giving Alex Kerfoot a chance at center. Kerfoot will slot in as the fourth-line center against the Jets. Finally, the Marlies could also have a chance to give Holmberg a lot of playing time in the top six.

Related: Maple Leafs’ Holmberg: Shining example of organizational depth


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Despite his success, Holmberg averaged just 10 minutes a game (10:28 TOI). It could just be that the organization believes he’ll get a bump playing heavy minutes in the AHL. He scored a goal in the Marlies’ shootout win over the Belleville Senators on Wednesday.

Item Two: Dryden Hunt: Three goals, three teams

Dryden Hunt is now a trivial question. He became the first NHLer since Ilya Kovalchuk In 2019–20 (along with the Los Angeles Kings, Canadiens and Washington Capitals) scored a goal for three different teams in one season.

Hunt has just three goals in three games with the New York Rangers, 25 games with the Colorado Avalanche and now eight games with the Maple Leafs.

Dryden Hunt, 2022-23 goals by team: New York Rangers – 1 Colorado Avalanche – 1 Toronto Maple Leafs – 1

Item three:: Projected lineup for today’s game against the Jets

Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Line

Forward

Michael Bunting – Auston Matthews – William Nylander

Calle Jarnkrok – John Tavares – Mitchell Marner

Pierre Engvall – David Kamp – Jack Aston-Rees

Dryden Hunt – Alexander Kerfoot – Bobby McMann

defenseman

Timothy Liljegren – Morgan Reilly

Justin Hall – Mark Giordano

Conor Timmins – Geordie Benn

Starting goal

Matt Murray

Item five: What’s going on with Nicolas Aube-Koubel?

One player who did not work out with the Maple Leafs was Nicolas Aube-Kubel. Aube-Kubel signed a one-year, $1 million contract with the Maple Leafs in July 2022 after spending most of the 2021–2022 season with the Avalanche, where he had 11 goals and 11 assists (for 22 points).

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He was brought to the Maple Leafs last season because of his physical play after he had 123 hits in 67 games. However, after just six games with the Maple Leafs, it was clear the experiment wasn’t working, and he was placed on waivers — and promptly claimed by the Capitals.

On November 11, Aube-Kubel showed his physical side when he checked the head of Tampa Bay Lightning Cal Foote. he was Suspended for three games (until Nov. 19). The NHL Department of Player Safety, who ruled that Foote’s head was the main point of contact and the contact was avoidable.

Nicolas Aube-Kubel Colorado Avalanche
Nicolas Aube-Kubel, when he was with the Colorado Avalanche.
(Amy Irvine / hockey writer)

Aube-Kubel was then a healthy scratch for 10 games, but was placed in the lineup after Lars Eller suffered an upper-body injury. On December 14, he registered two assists, his first two points of the season, in a 7–3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.

On January 6, Aube-Koubel scored his first goal of the season in a 6–2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets after being scratched the previous two games. He now has two goals and four assists in 15 games on the season, along with 25 penalty minutes.

It’s been a bit of a down season for Aube-Kubel. He’s played in a spotty role with the Capitals, sometimes in and sometimes out of the lineup.

What’s next for the Maple Leafs?

Depth defenseman Victor Mayte, who is suffering Dec. 5 lower-body injury against the Dallas Stars After hitting the board, traveled with the team on their recent road trip.

He is back skating, but there is no word yet on a possible return date.


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