Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen attends practice in Toronto last Wednesday before facing the Capitals in Game 1 in Washington a day later. (Jack Boland/Toronto Sun)

Trading Kessel paying dividends

As Frederik Andersen walked down the hallway at the Verizon Center just after midnight Sunday, followed not far behind by Kasperi Kapanen, a thought occurred: Almost everything about this young and growing Maple Leafs team comes back to Phil Kessel.

Bradford's Bantam LL #1 and Bantam LL #4 face off in Game 2 of the Championship at the BWG Leisure Centre on Thursday March 23, 2017. Miriam King/Bradford Times/Postmedia Network

Battle of the Bantams

The Bradford Bantam LL Team #1, sponsored by Weekend Hockey and Beethoven & Fairbarn, wrapped up its Semi-Final series against TNT #1 with a series of big wins, to go on to the Simcoe Region LL Championship against another Bradford

Bradford Bulldogs Midget A team won the OMHA Championship in Bradford, Ont. on Saturday March 25, 2017. Miriam King/Bradford Times/Postmedia Network

We are the Champions!

On home ice, with cheering fans packing the stands, the Bradford Bulldogs Midget A team won the OMHA championship, defeating the New Hamburg Huskies in a crucial Game 5. It was the first time a Bradford team has won the Ontario championship in over 2 decades.

Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews (right) talks with William Nylander (29) as they prepare for the Panthers Tuesday night in Toronto on Monday, March 27, 2017. (Jack Boland/Toronto Sun)

Leafs could contend for years

There are many numbers that underscore the surprising rebound of the Toronto Maple Leafs from dead last in the NHL to, as of now, inside the playoff picture.