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Turning the page

...new Canucks forward already impressing

by Daniel Fung @daniel_fung / Freelance writer

The fairy tale story of playing for his hometown team may have ended this week for Josh Leivo, but the 25-year-old is primed to write a new chapter for his career that he hopes will one day yield a storybook ending just the same.

If his debut as a Canuck on Tuesday was any indication, this is an opportunity that he intends to take full advantage of.

On Monday, Leivo was shipped from the Toronto Maple Leafs - the only professional organization he's ever known - out to the West Coast.

By Tuesday night, he was the starting left winger on Vancouver's top offensive line alongside Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser and he certainly gave his new club a glimpse of what he hopes will be a sign of things to come scoring a goal on his very first shot with the Canucks.

Video: MIN@VAN: Leivo scores in debut with Canucks

It was an opportunity he wanted with the Maple Leafs, but one that never truly presented itself in seven years with the organization.

Born and bred in Ontario, and having played his entire junior career in that province, Leivo became the embodiment of the dream of every young hockey player from that province when he heard his name called by the hometown Leafs at the NHL Draft in 2011.

It was a fairy tale right from the beginning for Leivo just to be selected, let alone by his hometown Leafs. A strong playoff campaign with the Sudbury Wolves in his draft eligible season helped boost his stock and led to his somewhat surprising selection in the third round, 84th overall, ahead of the likes of future stars Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Tobias Reider, Ondrej Palat, and Andrew Shaw. Not too shabby for a guy that Central Scouting didn't even have ranked heading into the Draft.

But what seemed destined to be a happily ever after story where the hometown kid turns hometown hero derailed for Leivo over the past few years. While he did his part to keep up with his side of the bargain morphing into a power forward with a scoring touch in his final two seasons in the OHL and continuing to display that same scoring ability after turning pro with the Marlies, it was the numbers game that ultimately worked against him.

The additions of star-studded young forwards including Mitch Marner, William Nylander, and Auston Matthews in subsequent draft years by the Leafs pushed Leivo down the organization's depth chart. And while the Leafs have bid farewell to veterans such as Phil Kessel, Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk in recent years, the recent additions of Patrick Marleau and John Tavares was writing on the wall that a top-six role was going to be little more than a fantasy for Leivo in Toronto.

If Tuesday night was any indication, Leivo will have his fair share of opportunity to do what he was never given any real chance to do with the Maple Leafs, and that's earn a permanent top-six role. With Vancouver's top scoring forwards plagued by both injuries and inconsistency especially over the past month, the door is wide open for Leivo to live up to the scoring potential he's shown on a consistent basis at every level save for the NHL.

Video: POSTGAME | Leivo vs. Wild

It may not have been the story he was expecting to author, but the potential for a fairy tale story is still very much in play for Leivo.

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