Babcock: 'Significant pieces not here, and they will be'
Claus Andersen / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Mike Babcock raised some eyebrows on Thursday when asked to assess his team so far this season.

"Obviously (I'm) ecstatic," the Toronto Maple Leafs head coach told reporters, including TSN's Mark Masters. "Any way you look at it, we've (gotten) off to a good start. We think our team's going to get better. We have significant pieces not here and they will be here."

That may have simply been optimism, or just a prediction rather than an update. Either way, Babcock was clearly referring to holdout William Nylander and the injured Auston Matthews.

"So we'll be a deeper team (with them), but in the meantime, we've been allowed to grow players and create depth in (our) organization, which is important," the bench boss added.

Nylander and the Leafs have until Dec. 1 to resolve their stalemate before the forward is forced to miss the rest of the season. The 22-year-old has yet to report because he doesn't have a contract.

Toronto is comfortable going without Nylander for the entire campaign if no deal is reached by the deadline, as Sportsnet's Chris Johnston reported on Saturday.

Matthews, meanwhile, has been out since Oct. 27 with a shoulder injury.

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Babcock: 'Significant pieces not here, and they will be'
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