This was Tyson Barrie’s power play crew last year:
And this is the current second unit from today’s Maple Leafs practice:
Leafs 2nd PP unit comes into focus— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) September 24, 2019
This was inevitable because Barrie isn’t going to take the top job away from Morgan Rielly, and the Leafs forward ability falls off a cliff by design. I’m not saying Kasperi Kapanen is going to be bad, but he’s no Andreas Johnsson when it comes to this part of the job they both get paid about the same to do.
Power play one is exactly as awesome as expected:
The Leafs also practised some six-on-five today, and those units were:
First look this morning at Leafs 6-on-5 combos:— Jonas Siegel (@jonassiegel) September 24, 2019
The two main PK units competing against all of these power plays were:
Leafs special teams at practice— Kevin McGran (@kevin_mcgran) September 24, 2019
Spezza Kerfoot Nylander
(Also Clune, Baptiste, Duszak, Kivihalme on PK)
Putting Kapanen on the power play takes away one of the better PK forwards, but Zach Hyman will arrive to save the day there, so the fourth forward isn’t very important right now. And it’s likely Mitch Marner takes part of a job from someone too.
Trevor Moore and Ilya Mikheyev have both been on PK units in games so far, and both are likely going to be fine at it. Frederik Gauthier is very good in the AHL on the PK, but has never been tested in the NHL, and his lack of anything but extremely limited five-on-five usage last year was the main reason he wasn’t an efficient use of a roster spot — d-zone faceoff skill notwithstanding.
This practice has no players from yesterday’s game, so bear that in mind, but the full lines were:
#Leafs lines at practice:— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) September 24, 2019
Timashov-Spezza-Gauthier (alternating centres)
It’s easy to imagine Nic Petan in for Timashov (who isn’t waiver exempt and will likely be cut on one of the last days of camp to be waived in with half the AHL). Then the question becomes: how do the dominoes fall when Hyman knocks Kapanen to the third line* and Moore pushes out one of those wingers? That will be the point at which the roster will be reduced to have only one press boxed player, so there’s no guarantee it’s a forward.
*Don’t forget that Mikheyev is a natural right wing. If Kapanen is good enough where he is, Hyman might end up on the Kerfoot line.
The defence question has an answer, and it came from yesterday’s game. At the end of that game, anyone looking over that defence corps would say: none of the above. So the six defenders have to come from this group.
This isn’t a tease anymore. Rasmus Sandin is making the roster out of camp. He’s not staying there long, but he’s going to play opening night, and they’ll blare out Enter Sandman while he takes the warmup lap alone, and the crowd will go wild.