It was a busy Monday morning for the Toronto Maple Leafs ahead of their Wednesday night game against the Ottawa Senators. Having clinched the North Division, the team is focusing on getting their injured players back in the lineup before the playoffs. Today, we saw some progress on those fronts.
The Return of Steady Freddy?
First, Frederik Andersen was practicing with the Leafs so it’s likely Saturday was his last AHL game for a while. I have some complicated thoughts about Andersen after watching his two outings. He was very worrying out of the gate and clearly needed conditioning (hence the name of the loan). The second game didn’t start any better, but his second half was in fact really good, he looked sharp and something resembling his former self.
I know there was a lot of nail-biting and concern over whether he’s even an NHL goalie anymore, but I think he showed a massive step in his movement by the end. It’s a tiny sample, but all we can go off is how he feels, how he looks when he’s feeling good, and the team’s confidence. The Leafs aren’t desperate to get him back, so he’d only be here if the team thinks he provides value.
I think the Leafs could have given him another game in the AHL — the Marlies play again tomorrow — but it sounds like they want him to get an NHL start ahead of the playoffs. That’s fine, I’m not as worried about it now than I was around 4pm Saturday.
Also, as of right now, Andersen is still on the Marlies roster, but AHL Transactions tends to lag real time by several hours so we’ll see the official news sometime this afternoon.
Frederik Andersen is back on the ice before #leafs practice, which suggests that his LTI conditioning loan in @TheAHL has ended. Would also point to him potentially making his first NHL start since March 19 this week.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) May 10, 2021
Practice Jersey Colours
The Leafs ran a skills-based practice today, I assume it was run by soft hands Nylander. Likely because of the minimal contact (Nylander), some of the injured players were able to get on the ice in normal jerseys and have a full practice with the team. Those players were Zach Hyman, Nick Foligno, Riley Nash, and Scott Sabourin.
This was Foligno and Hyman’s first practice with the Leafs since their injuries, while Nash had been skating in a red sweater for a little bit. There’s no guarantee the four will remain in regular practice jerseys tomorrow, presumably when some CANADIAN, Not Nylander guy is running practice.
Zach Hyman is also practicing with #Leafs in a regular blue sweater but who knows what that’s indicative of given the blue/white split across the board— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) May 10, 2021
Could just be a skills-based day coming up here
Denis Malgin has been back in North America from Switzerland for a few weeks, sitting on the Marlies roster during his quarantine. He was added to the Taxi Squad today and participated in practice.
Forward Denis Malgin has been reassigned to the @MapleLeafs taxi squad.— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) May 10, 2021
I have no idea how the Leafs intend to activate Andersen, Hyman, Riley Nash, and Foligno before the end of the regular season.
I have a theory about the team holding some old accrued cap space from the season, but I have no mechanism to think it real.
Based on things I know and have read from other people, they might be able to activate Andersen, but they wouldn’t be able to get Nash on the ice too.
Hyman and Foligno are still counting against the cap and remain on the active roster, so they can step into the lineup whenever they want.
Meanwhile, with how little we’ve heard about Zach Bogosian since his injury so he’s probably not going to be available anytime soon. Hopefully for the playoffs.
Reported Saturday night, but the Leafs got their first COVID-19 vaccine doses on Sunday administered by the team doctor. Anyone 18+ in Toronto is eligible for a vaccine, and the government told them to avoid clinics so as not to cause a stir. Everyone should get a vaccine, and no one in an eligible group should be shamed for getting one. The question about when and where their second doses will be taken is still up in the air, especially since one Canadian team will be moving to the third round and playing against American opponents.
Lastly, Jack Campbell has been nominated for the Bill Masterton Trophy.
Our Toronto chapter of the @ThePHWA has voted Jack Campbell as the #Leafs 2021 Masteron nominee— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) May 10, 2021
The Bill Masterton Trophy is awarded to one NHL player each season in recognition of sportsmanship, perseverance and dedication to hockey
Campbell has had a long and winding journey since being selected 11th overall by the Dallas Stars in 2010, one you can read about in detail here. His Care Bear-like personality and stellar play have won him a place in the heart of Leaf fans everywhere, and right now he’s the favourite to start Game 1 of the playoffs.
The Masterton award seems likely to go to Oskar Lindblom of Philadelphia, who returned to the game last August after battling cancer, and he will obviously be a very worthy winner if so. It’s nice to see a nod to Campbell’s dedication all the same.