Column, Erik Karlsson, Hudson Malinoski, Key Post, Max Domi, News and Rumors, Semyon Varlamov, Toronto Maple Leafs

Maple Leafs News & Rumors: SDA, Domi, Malinoski & Karlsson

In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs News & Rumors, I’ll take a look at prospect Semyon Der-Arguchintsev’s (SDA) signing with Traktor Chelyabinsk in the KHL and his uncertain future in the NHL. Second, I’ll share how excited Mitch Marner is about playing with Max Domi again. They have a history as former teammates in junior hockey with the London Knights. 

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Third, I’ll bring Maple Leafs fans up to speed about Hudson Malinoski‘s journey to even get to the 2023 NHL Entry Draft. It’s been a tough one through a teenage injury and recovery. Finally, I report the breaking news that former Maple Leafs general manager (GM) Kyle Dubas has made a splash with the Pittsburgh Penguins, bringing Erik Karlsson to Pennsylvania to play with Sidney Crosby. 

Item One: SDA Heads to the KHL

Most Maple Leafs fans got to know Semyon Der-Arguchintsev (more commonly known as SDA) when he and Nick Robertson were lighting the lamp with the Peterborough Petes. During the 2019-20 season, Robertson scored 55 goals and added 31 assists in only 46 games. To complement him, SDA scored 12 goals and contributed a whopping 63 assists in his 55 games. The duo was amazing.

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But neither player has fulfilled that promise — yet. Robertson suffered a number of debilitating injuries that set his career back, and SDA has struggled to get to the next level. 

Still, SDA has elite offensive talent – especially his puck-handling skills. He was drafted in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft by the Maple Leafs in the third round (76th overall), but his North American progress has come hard. 

Semyon Der-Arguchintsev Peterborough Petes
Semyon Der-Arguchintsev, Peterborough Petes (Terry Wilson / OHL Images)

There are concerns about his defensive game and a style of play that puts him on the perimeter. He had a strong-enough season in 2022-23 with the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Toronto Marlies, but he couldn’t reach a contract agreement with the big club. Instead, he signed for two years with Traktor Chelyabinsk in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).

Related: Remembering Maple Leafs Tough Guy Jim Dorey

He’s still relatively young at 22 years old. However, it’s no longer certain if he’ll return to North America. His return to the KHL might indicate that his interest in playing NHL has waned. Because they tendered him a qualifying offer, the Maple Leafs retain his NHL rights. But, for now, at least, he’s off the radar for the Blue & White.  

Item Two: Marner Excited to Play with Domi Again

One person who’s excited to see Max Domi on the Maple Leafs roster is his former teammate with the London Knights –Mitch Marner. Marner and Domi have a personal history because the two played together for the Knights in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) for two years during the 2013-2015 seasons.

Domi, who’s known for his gritty style, signed a one-year contract with the team on July 3. Many Maple Leafs fans are excited about the signing because Max’s father, Tie Domi, was a much-loved player for the organization from 1995 to 2006.

Max Domi Tie Domi
Tie Domi poses with son, Max Domi before Max was selected by the Phoenix Coyotes during the 2013 NHL Draft
(Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

In their time together in junior hockey, Marner and Domi helped make the Knights a dominant force. During the 2014-2015 OHL regular season, both players were top-10 OHL scorers and combined for a huge total of 226 points. Marner finished second in the OHL with 124 points (42 goals, 82 assists), and Domi was ninth with 102 points (32 goals, 70 assists).

In a recent interview, Marner noted that the additions of Domi, Tyler Bertuzzi, and Ryan Reaves bring a physical element to the team’s lineup – a bit of muscle and hustle. Marner believes Domi’s playing style fits well within the team’s system. However, even better, Marner highlighted Domi’s qualities as a person off the ice. 

Related: Maple Leafs Lineup Is Tougher & More Skilled with Domi & Bertuzzi

From my perspective, Domi and Bertuzzi bring an element that the team has struggled with in the past – secondary scoring. The jury remains out until the pucks start flying at the nets, but if Domi could score at least 20 goals, that would be a huge benefit to the team’s chances for a more-extended postseason run.

Item Three: Hudson Malinoski Has Overcome Lots to Get Where He Is

In a recent post, my THW colleague Andrew Forbes wrote an informative post about Maple Leafs prospects. In that post, he added a piece on Hudson Malinoski. 

Malinoski is an interesting prospect for the Maple Leafs. He was selected during the fifth round of the recent 2023 NHL Entry Draft, but his journey to this point in his hockey career has been anything but ordinary. At the age of 13, he suffered a serious injury when he fell off his roof while shoveling snow. The accident caused a concussion and tore his vertebral artery.

Hudson Malinoski Toronto Maple Leafs
Hudson Malinoski, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

It also might have spelled the end of his hockey career. Fortunately, however, he underwent successful experimental surgery and has made a remarkable recovery.

Malinoski’s body is still maturing. Currently, he stands at 6-foot-1 and weighs 174 pounds. He’s undersized but growing. Similar to some other young players, the pandemic disrupted the developmental years of his career when the leagues he could have played got shut down by the pandemic, so he’s still catching up.

Malinoski recently had a successful season, leading his team (the Brooks Bandits) as their captain in the AJHL (Alberta Junior Hockey League). Plenty of his points came from the power play, where he was used as a primary passer and shooting threat.

Related: Maurice “Rocket” Richard: More than Just a Game

Malinoski will be headed to Providence College, the same school that Noel Acciari attended. He’s an easy young prospect to root for because of the issues he’s needed to overcome in his life just to play hockey.

What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?

Well, former Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas pulled it off this morning. In a complex trade involving three NHL teams, he magically acquired Erik Karlsson from the San Jose Sharks’ hat.

In the Penguins’ blockbuster, they acquired Norris Trophy winner defenseman Karlsson by involving a third team – the Montreal Canadiens.

The full trade is as follows: 

  • The Penguins receive Erik Karlsson, Dillon Hamaliuk, Rem Pitlick, and San Jose’s 2026 third-round pick.
  • The Sharks receive Mikael Granlund, Mike Hoffman, Jan Rutta, Pittsburgh’s 2024 first-round pick.
  • Finally, the Canadiens receive Jeff Petry, Casey DeSmith, Nathan Legare, and Pittsburgh’s 2025 second-round pick. Petry gets to return to the Habs.

With Karlsson on the Penguins’ roster, it should be fun for Maple Leafs fans to look forward to the Penguins showing up in Scotiabank Arena. Now there’s even more to look forward to. The 2023-24 regular season could be more interesting now than it was just yesterday.

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