Vegas Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant believes Joel Armia has done enough to be the NHL’s No1 centre next season
Joel Armia scored on his season debut as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the New York Islanders 3-0 on Saturday.
Armia, 26, who signed with the club on 10 August, beat Thomas Greiss after Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf won the puck in the first period.
The Maple Leafs finished 2017-18 with the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference. They finished with four wins and 18 losses in the 25 games they played in September and October, a time when they were missing the likes of Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Morgan Rielly.
Including Armia, the Leafs added four players to their roster on Tuesday in trades involving defenceman Cody Franson and forwards Tyler Bozak and Matt Martin.
Tyler Bozak helped Toronto win the Atlantic Division last season
“We’ve been waiting for Joel to come in and play, and just win this game and get his feet under him,” Maple Leafs forward Josh Leivo said. “He’s a good player. His goal was awesome. He brings speed and skill, that’s how you win games.”
Leivo, who took ice from Peter Horachek, the Islanders assistant coach who also was on New York’s staff, scored with 1:33 left in the first period. Kasperi Kapanen added a goal in the second and Kasperi Kapanen scored an empty-netter. Goalie Garret Sparks made 21 saves.
New York is in transition. Defenseman Nick Leddy, 19-year-old center Mathew Barzal and restricted free agent Ryan Pulock are among the players coming to New York as the Islanders try to revamp an underachieving roster that was 12th in the Eastern Conference last season.
“I’m looking forward to getting everybody together,” Leddy said. “A lot of pieces are coming. I think everyone is excited about what’s next. It’s exciting to be a part of it.”