Leafs Training Camp Battles: Who to Watch

Bruce Bennett

The Leafs have 59 players coming to training camp, who should you be watching?

The Leafs always run a really large training camp. Personally I'm not a fan of it, I think there's a lot of players there who have no chance of making the team and a lot of players for whom the idea of them getting NHL camp experience is a total waste.

That said we have a training camp roster and I thought it'd be a useful exercise to figure out which players are actually fighting for jobs. My method here is pretty simple. I grouped guys into three bins: "guaranteed an NHL spot" "won't get an NHL spot" and "fighting for a job".

The team will likely carry 14F, 7D and 2G unless the Kadri and Franson signings are tighter to the cap than we think, and more on them later.

The Battle at Forward

Definite NHLers (11): Dave Bolland, Tyler Bozak, David Clarkson, Nazem Kadri, Phil Kessel, Nikolai Kulemin, Joffrey Lupul, Jay McClement, Frazer McLaren, Colton Orr, James van Riemsdyk

Definite not-NHLers: Spencer Abbott, Tyler Biggs, David Broll, Connor Brown, Sam Carrick, Andrew Crescenzi, Jamie Devane, Frederik Gauthier, Fabrice Herzog, Josh Leivo, Greg McKegg, Brad Ross, Matt Rupert, Ryan Rupert, Kenny Ryan, Carter Verhaege

Fighting for a job (6): We have 11 definite forwards which means the following six players are fighting for 3 spots.

Carter Ashton: saw a few games with the Leafs last year, but is a combination of both young and uninspiring.

Troy Bodie: a lot of AHL experience, Leiweke's son in law, I think he's an AHL veteran but he'll have a chance to play himself on to the Leafs.

Joe Colborne: I think he's closer to a lock than most, I'd expect him on the NHL roster.

Jerry D'Amigo: a longshot because of his age I think D'Amigo will win a job in this situation a few years from now, but he'll get consideration because of how much pro experience he already has.

Mason Raymond: I don't see how he doesn't end up on the roster, doubly so if Kadri holds out.

Trevor Smith: another guy I have pegged as an AHL veteran presence for all the kids we'll have there, I think he'll still get a look with Bodie.

Who Makes It? My best guess is Colborne, Raymond, and Ashton.

The Battle on Defense

Definite NHLers (5): Cody Franson, Jake Gardiner, Carl Gunnarsson, Dion Phaneuf, Paul Ranger

Definite not-NHLers (10): Jesse Blacker, TJ Brennan, Matt Finn, Andrew MacWilliam, Kevin Marshall, Trevor Murphy, Stuart Percy, Kevin Raine, Dylan Yeo, Zachary Yuen

Fighting for a job (5): These five guys are fighting for 2 spots (3 if Cody Franson remains un-signed).

Mark Fraser: played a lot with the Leafs last year, got a gnarly skull injury. He'll have every chance to make the team.

Petter Granberg: a late draft pick who impressed in the SEL and came hyped by many as ready to play this year, he didn't seem dominant in the rookie tournament which has to be a bad sign if he's hoping to be a regular NHLer in three weeks.

Korbinian Holzer: bad at hockey

John-Michael Liles: I really hesitated to put him here instead of "yes": if the Leafs don't believe in him you have to think he'd already be gone. I dunno. I think he's better than "total garbage" but would happily have amnestied him for his cap space; he's going to need to be sharp in camp I think.

Morgan Rielly: I want to be clear: I love Rielly. I think Rielly will be a good NHLer and soon. I'd give him his 9 game tryout on the NHL as an absolute max, let him develop on his own pace. Likely too good for the WHL, but I don't see him dominating the NHL given his age. I think the Leafs give him a long look at camp, and perhaps the uncertainty around Franson helps him here; it gives the Leafs nine games to sign Franson and benefit from the banked cap space during that time.

Who Makes It? I'd say Fraser and Liles with Rielly as a 9 game callup (especially if Franson is unsigned).

The Battle in Net

James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier will be the two goalies on the roster, sorry Garrett Sparks.

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