Sports Hockey

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.

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.

Bradford Goal by Jacob Beadle in Game 1 of the OMHA Midget A Championship vs. New Hamburg, played in Bradford, Ont. on Saturday March 11, 2017. Paul Novosad/Photographer

Midget A Bulldogs in OMHA Final

The Bradford Bulldogs Midget A team played Game 1 of the OMHA Midget A Championship Finals at the Leisure Centre on Saturday, March 11, in front of a full house - skating to a nail-biting 4-3 win in Overtime. Scoring for the Bulldogs were Brett Young, Joe Heath, Jacob Beadle, and with the OT game winner, Evan Barroso.

Jackson Carruthers wears a temporary cast, after surgery on a cut achilles tendon, watching the action on the ice from a wheelchair. Miriam King/Bradford Times/Postmedia Network

Young player sidelined by injury

In 2013, Ottawa Senators player Erik Karlsson suffered a serious injury to his Achilles tendon, the tendon that attaches the heel to the calf. As Karlsson bent his knee, a gap opened between the back of his leg and the stiff back of his skate, allowing the skate blade of Pittsburgh Penguin forward Matt Cooke to slice into his leg, cutting the tendo