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Preview: Maple Leafs vs the New Tampa Bay Lightning

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First big test after the trade deadline: Tampa Bay.

Toronto Maple Leafs v Tampa Bay Lightning
TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 17: Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning reaches for the puck against Ron Hainsey #2 of the Toronto Maple Leafs during the first period at Amalie Arena on January 17, 2019 in Tampa, Florida.
Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images

Toronto Maple Leafs (32-23-8) @ Tampa Bay Lightning (40-17-5)
Game 64: 7:00pm
Watch On: Sportsnet Ontario, FS-SUN
Opponent’s Site: Raw Charge

Here’s a quick in and out of what the Leafs have done to change their team this month:

IN:

  • Jack Campbell
  • Kyle Clifford
  • Denis Malgin
  • Calle Rosen
  • Max Veronneau, Miikka Salomaki, Matt Lorito
  • 2020 fifth (VGK)

OUT:

  • Trevor Moore
  • Michael Hutchinson
  • Mason Marchment
  • Ben Harpur, Jordan Schmaltz, Martins Dzierkals
  • 2020 third (CBJ)
  • 2021 third (TOR)*
  • 2021 sixth (TOR)**

*Becomes 2021 second if Clifford re-signs or Campbell wins six playoff games

**Not handed over unless Veronneau plays 10 NHL games this year or 10 NHL games next year

That’s it. Nothing bought, nothing sold. Just a couple wingers, a backup goalie, an old friend on defense, and a pick in exchange for pretty much the same. The Leafs did some good business taking on Robin Lehner’s salary after missing on any bigger moves on deadline day. They got a guaranteed fifth-round pick out of it to help recoup the potentially three (probably just two) draft picks they gave up.

The team still has 10 picks heading into the June entry draft, I’d personally like to see some moves then rather than sit back and draft nearly a dozen prospects. But that’s a discussion for another day. For now, here is what we have:

Maple Leafs Lines

Lines based on practice from Monday

Forwards

Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - Mitch Marner
William Nylander - John Tavares - Denis Malgin
Pierre Engvall* - Alex Kerfoot - Kasperi Kapanen
Kyle Clifford - Frederik Gauthier - Jason Spezza

Defense

Jake Muzzin - Justin Holl
Rasmus Sandin* - Timothy Liljegren*
Travis Dermott - Tyson Barrie
Martin Marincin - (Kevin Gravel)

Goalies

Frederik Andersen
Jack Campbell

*These players were sent to the Marlies on a paper transaction on Monday, meaning they are eligible for the AHL playoffs. They also count towards three of the four call ups the Leafs are allowed between now and when the Marlies finish their season (including postseason).

The Leafs also extended Jake Muzzin to a four-year contract worth $5.625 million per year. This was both less money and less term than I thought Muzzin could get, and Muzzin has been invaluable as an ideal second-pair defenseman, so I guess I’m feeling content about that.

I guess another thing to mention is that Tyson Barrie is still on the roster. He’ll be a UFA on July 1st and I assure everyone there’s no way he’s getting extended. Kyle Clifford, too, but there’s at least incentive to not re-sign him (the pick).


This is the roster the Leafs are going with for the rest of the season. The one that won on Thursday, but also the one that lost on Saturday (to the Marlies Zamboni driver that was on Colbert last night). They expect Morgan Rielly, Cody Ceci, and perhaps even Ilya Mikheyev before the end of the season, but for tonight’s game, this is what we got.

Turning our attention to tonight’s game, here is what the Tampa Bay Lightning look like. I’ve bolded the players they’ve added to the roster this month. The lineups will change between when this post goes up and warm-ups because the Lightning are dealing with an injury to Erik Cernak and the timing for the arrival of Barclay Goodrow.

Why do they have so many former Leafs!

Lines based on the last game

Forwards

Steven Stamkos - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov
Blake Coleman - Anthony Cirelli - Alex Killorn
Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Yanni Gourde
Pat Maroon - Barclay Goodrow - Carter Verhaeghe
Cedric Paquette

Defense

Victor Hedman - Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev - Kevin Shattenkirk
Braydon Coburn - Luke Schenn
Zach Bogosian

Goalies

Andrei Vasilevskiy
Curtis McElhinney

The Lightning want to be a tougher team to play again. Combine that with their unbelievable skill (funny how you don’t have to trade skill for grit) and they look like a really well-rounded team. The cost was high — they traded two first-round picks and a top prospect in Nolan Foote — but they’re in win-now mode so how can you blame them.

This Leafs team has made me really skittish lately, especially as the pressure to find a consistent effort as the season races towards game 82. The Lightning and Boston Bruins sit first and second in the NHL. The Leafs are 15th. I don’t like our chances, but all we can do at this point is just keep going.