The pre-season begins tonight with the Toronto Maple Leafs taking on the Ottawa Senators in the Leafs home away from home; The Canadian Scotiabank Corel Tire Palladium Centre! Puck drop is at 7:30 PM, or thereabouts.
How do you preview a pre-season game? There’s almost four times the amount of players to choose from to highlight. 49 players remain in camp, so we’re most likely going to see a lot of future Marlies and Solar Bears out there tonight. I’m going to give it a shot though, so here is my wild speculation on lines.
Wild Speculation for Forwards
Last year in the first pre-season game, we had two NHL vets and the rest were trying out to make the NHL. The best forwards are generally given the first few nights off, and the lines rarely matter as they’re blended throughout the game. Mike Babcock has said he’s giving the vets four games each, so it should be an interesting mix of vets and try outs.
Vets at forward
I think these guys will suit up. I’d want my veteran presence to be at centre. I don’t think Moore will play a lot of pre-season games, and working with the younger kids would be the way to go. Kadri and Willie are there because some star power is good for those poor Leafs fans trapped in Ottawa. Does Leivo count as a vet? He was “in the NHL” last season.
Tryouts at forward
Miro Aaltonen - New signing, most likely a Marlie.
Rich Clune - Marlies dad, needs a game in a Leafs sweater so here it is.
Colin Greening - Ex-Senator, given the chance to show them what they gave up
Carl Grundstrom - 2016 draft pick, needs to get games in before he goes back to Sweden
Andreas Johnsson - A fellow 2016 pick, has done well for the Marlies
Chris Mueller - I never heard of this guy before the camp invites list came out.
Nikita Soshnikov - A tweener who has acquired a taste for the NHL
Kerby Rychel - AHL all last season, wants to make the jump
Actual Forward lines
Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - William Nylander
Kasperi Kapanen - Chris Mueller - Nikita Soshnikov
Matt Martin - Dominic Moore - Eric Fehr
Josh Leivo - Miro Aaltonen - Connor Brown
Spares: Dmytro Timashov, Tobias Lindberg
Wild Speculation for Defence
Vets on defence
Jake Gardiner and Ron Hainsey are the vets in this game I would guess. Just like the forwards, give the new old guy some ice early and Jakey’s the star on D.
Tryouts on defence
Roman Polak - Still here on a PTO
Andreas Borgman - New signing, ready to try for one of the open defence slots
Keaton Middleton - The only remaining junior player
Calle Rosen - Where Borgman goes, so goes Rosen. For now.
Andrew Nielsen - Ready to try and break out of the Marlies, despite certain bloggers trying to hold him back.
Actual Defence pairings
Wild Speculation for Goalies
Kasimir Kaskisuo and Curtis McElhinney are my choices for goal. Last year we had Bibeau and Kaskisuo in pre-season game 1 but since they’re back to back with the Senators, they’ll go NHL/AHL each game.
What about the Senators?
Well, okay what we’ll most likely see is a bunch of future Belleville Senators on the ice to take on the Marlies. The full camp roster is here, and since they only invited 53 players to their camp there have been no cuts yet.
I don’t know enough about who’s who to speculate right now, so we’ll just update this section when the lines come out after skates.
How can I watch this game?
Lucky for you the game is being broadcast, because nothing beats the Leafs on TV, even in the pre-season. The game tonight will be on Sportsnet and you can also stream it on NHL Live. Radio broadcast is being handled by Sportsnet590 in Toronto.
We’ll be updating the preview post as the day goes on, putting in facts for speculation. It’s the pre-season, hey, so let’s just remember to not read too much into anything, like if Matt Martin ends up playing on Kadri’s wing.
Rate the guesses
Courtesy of Mark Masters, we have lines from morning skate, let’s see how good the guesses were:
Leafs lines for tonight's game— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) September 18, 2017
Leafs D for tonight's game— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) September 18, 2017
That’s not bad. The guesses, I mean. The lines are the Leafs top line and three fourth lines. The defence is...interesting.