Leafs' Keefe: Matthews, Marner, Nylander have a 'great deal to grow'
With a full year now under his belt as head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Sheldon Keefe believes his team's stars, specifically Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander, will improve as they continue to mature.
"They have a great deal to grow. I don't know where it shakes out in terms of their production. The production has been fairly good, of course, especially in the regular season as they've established themselves as premier players," Keefe said to TSN's Mark Masters. "But I think all of our players have room to grow in all the other areas of their game in terms of the consistency away from the puck and the competitiveness in terms of their ability to bring the best out of others around them and not just be at their best."
All three have logged several years of NHL experience now, but they're still young. Both Matthews and Marner are just 23 years old, while Nylander is 24.
Over the past three seasons, Marner ranks 19th in the league in points, and Matthews ranks third in goals.
While they've contributed offensively, Keefe wants to see the youngsters develop in all aspects. Adding veterans to the club over the offseason will hopefully improve the trio's leadership skills.
"There is a responsibility, as you grow as leaders, to bring the best out of those around you and that's a big part of it," Keefe said. "... We're a significantly older and more experienced team this season than we were last, so we're going to have greater support in that area, because I do think it requires a team of leaders. I think that will just help everybody find a whole new level."
Toronto has brought in several experienced players since free agency started, including Joe Thornton, Wayne Simmonds, and Zach Bogosian. The team also re-signed Jason Spezza.