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Matthew Knies the main target of consideration as Maple Leafs improvement camp will get below method

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All eyes had been on Matthew Knies because the Maple Leafs improvement camp started Sunday and it was onerous to not miss the younger 6-foot-3 ahead.

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From the primary 1-on-1 drill  Knies took half in, bulling his method to the online, it little doubt made the Leafs a bit wistful that he has chosen to return to the College of Minnesota this season and didn’t be a part of them for the 2022 NHL playoffs.

“I believed I’d develop much more there, that I didn’t assume I used to be able to make the step but,” mentioned Knies, final yr’s first Leafs decide at 57th general within the second spherical. “On the ice and off the ice, I didn’t assume I had the maturity. There’s extra to enter that as an individual.”

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However that hole is already being bridged simply a few days into the week-long camp. Knies has embraced the camp, the teaching and extra-curriculars that embody diet and conditioning ideas. He missed the Leafs’ late-summer devo camp final yr due to  college, so this was his first probability to get to know the workers, shake arms with membership president Brendan Shanahan and be sized up by Hayley Wickenheiser, assistant normal supervisor and head of participant improvement.

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Beneath the perch of normal supervisor Kyle Dubas, his three assistant GMs, and coach Sheldon Keefe, Knies placed on a bodily show.

“I wish to be a two-way participant, to outline my sport. Then I may give the Leafs a lift,” he mentioned. “I like to make use of my dimension and that’s what’s going to assist me. Hayley is aware of what she’s speaking about. She (chirps) me a bit of an excessive amount of, but it surely’s in good enjoyable. I’m excited to select her mind the remainder of the week.”

His April determination to remain at school was a tough one, however made in session with many advisers, pals, household, individuals who had been in his identical yr and future teammate Nick Abruzzese, who performed with him on the American Olympic squad in Beijing earlier than leaving Harvard early to affix the Leafs.

“I felt the Leafs wished me, but it surely got here all the way down to my determination,” Knies mentioned. “I want yet another yr to develop into a greater participant. It’s a giant step to the NHL and I’m attempting to make it a clean transition.”

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Knies was picked for Group USA on the world juniors, too. The COVID-postponed tourney picks up in Edmonton in a month when Knies and different North People might be ramped up for his or her faculty and junior seasons.


Wickenheiser is supervising 43 gamers on the devo camp, together with six goalies and 13 draft picks, largely 2019 and 2020 choices, and 4 of the 5 gamers taken 9 days in the past in Montreal, together with 38th general Fraser Minten. Cut up into two teams that they had a lightweight skate Saturday as a part of medicals and began Sunday with puck-possession and tempo drills.

“They’re engaged. I actually discover the questions they’re asking off the ice,” mentioned Wickenheiser, the previous Canadian Olympian and world champion.

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The off-ice element may have some mild moments, a contest to make and identify a wholesome smoothie, s properly as a bowling competitors.

Jason Spezza, the lately retired Leaf and now particular assistant to Dubas, led off as one in all many visitor audio system at a welcome dinner.

“Listening to Spezza was cool, he’s a super-nice man,” mentioned Minten. “We did a Q and A with him and everybody requested about his profession. He actually put emphasis on how critical everybody takes the sport now and places in time, in comparison with 20 years in the past.

“Seeing Spezza, Keefe and everybody else you all the time see on TV is cool,” he mentioned.


Dennis Hildeby stepped into his first media scrum to rapidly quash the notion his peak had been exaggerated by the Leafs in draft reviews. The goaltender is certainly just below 6-foot-6.

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“I’ve been the identical peak for a few years,” mentioned the 20-year-old Swede, who was chosen mid-draft after being ignored in each ’20 and ‘21. “I grew rather a lot in a single yr and it was powerful (to include side-to-side motion and ability with a bigger body), however I’ve had loads of time to get used to it now.”

This was his first journey to Canada, although he has already determined, in live performance with the Leafs, to return to his Farjestad membership crew. In March of ‘21, he had the primary of two minor hip surgical procedures, however has totally recovered. He’s been a goalie since age 9 and idolized countryman Henrik Lundqvist.

“It’s important to just like the strain,” he mentioned. “There’s additionally the good thing about being the hero each sport.”

He additionally accredited of his new media nickname, ‘The Hildebeast’.

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Wickenheiser has not slowed down her medical research regardless of her job with the Leafs and taking the AGM title. Just a few nights, she has put in a full 24 hours on the hospital finishing her residency and coming proper to the rink the subsequent morning. “One offers vitality to the opposite,” she mentioned. “I all the time really feel grateful as a result of it offers me perspective. After I’m speaking to gamers (I say): ‘Hey, it’s not the tip of the world’. As a result of typically (on the hospital) I see the tip of the world”… A problem for the Leafs was becoming goalie T.J. Semptimphelter’s surname on a  sweater … The six goalies are practising individually on a pad to get the utmost 1-on-1 instruction, however will play in scrimmage video games later within the week … Knies says fellow Arizona resident Auston Matthews has been sending him messages of encouragement because the draft. Matthews performed minor hockey with Knies’ older brother, Phillip

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