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Credit Leafs’ (slightly) older players for playoff run, too

Last year zero Canadian clubs made the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but come 2017 five have made it to postseason. Connor McDavid and the Oilers have what it takes to make a deep run, but are they the best Canadian team?

Much of the focus regarding the Toronto Maple Leafs’ run to a playoff spot revolves around Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander. Failing that, people fawn over the job Mike Babcock’s done integrating those new pieces.

But ... let’s take a moment to give some other key, not-quite-as-young figures some credit, too.
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The easiest way to illustrate this mix of new and near-new is to look at the ages and point totals of the Maple Leafs’ top 10 scorers:

1. Auston Matthews - 19 years old, 69 points
2. James van Riemsdyk - 27, 62 points
3. Nazem Kadri - 26, 61 points
3. William Nylander - 20, 61 points
3. Mitch Marner - 19, 61 points
6. Tyler Bozak - 30, 55 points
7. Jake Gardiner - 26, 43 points
8. Connor Brown - 23, 36 points
8. Nikita Zaitsev 25, 36 points
10. Leo Komarov - 30, 32 points

Again, there’s nothing wrong with highlighting the Buds’ ridiculous bounty of rookie difference-makers.

There’s a feel-good story to long-suffering Leafs such as JVR, Kadri and Bozak enjoying some glory. It doesn’t seem like we need to #FreeJakeGardiner any longer.