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Toronto Maple Leafs: Who is even on this team?

Goes double for the Marlies.

The Toronto Maple Leafs hold their prospects development camp Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The official training camp roster will be released tomorrow, but barring any new PTOs, there won’t be new surprises. The old surprises from a summer that seems like it shouldn’t be over are enough, though.

Departures

Gone from the Maple Leafs are:

  • Frederik Andersen - Carolina
  • David Rittich - Nashville
  • Zach Bogosian - Tampa Bay
  • Ben Hutton - Unsigned
  • Mikko Lehtonen - Columbus
  • Kenny Agostino - Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod, KHL
  • Alexander Barabanov - San Jose
  • Travis Boyd - Arizona
  • Nick Foligno - Boston
  • Alex Galchenyuk - Unsigned
  • Zach Hyman - Edmonton
  • Riley Nash - Winnipeg
  • Stefan Noesen - Carolina
  • Nic Petan - Vancouver
  • Scott Sabourin - Ottawa
  • Joe Thornton - Florida
  • Jimmy Vesey - PTO in New Jersey

Formerly on NHL contracts and gone from the Marlies/Taxi Squad are:

  • Veini Vehviläinen - Bynäs, SHL
  • Martin Marincin - Ocelari Trinec, Czech League
  • Calle Rosén - St. Louis

Also gone are a very long list of AHL-contracted players.

Old Friends and New Arrivals

There are a lot of new faces on the Maple Leafs — a few more than are strictly necessary — and a lot of new Marlies as well. The Newfoundland Growlers, who didn’t play last year, are back in action, so the AHL ranks will clear some space by sending some players to the ECHL. The Growlers/Marlies have one goalie signed between them, so at least one NHL goalie will be heading all the way east.

For today, the focus will stick to the NHL-contracted players.

Goalies

The returnees are:

  • Jack Campbell
  • Joe Woll
  • Ian Scott
  • Michael Hutchinson

The additions are:

  • Petr Mrázek
  • Erik Källgren

Campbell and Mrázek will be your NHL tandem, with Hutchinson, Woll and maybe Källgren in the AHL. Scott and the AHL-contracted Keith Petruzzeli should end up in the ECHL. The goalies are the simple ones to sort out. Hutchinson may be at the point in his career when he’ll be left untouched on waivers, and all that angst will be a thing of the past.

Defence

Back again:

  • Jake Muzzin
  • Morgan Rielly
  • TJ Brodie
  • Justin Holl
  • Travis Dermott
  • Rasmus Sandin
  • Timothy Liljegren
  • Filip Král
  • Mac Hollowell
  • Kristians Rubins
  • Joe Duszak
  • Teemu Kivihalme

New guys:

  • Alex Biega
  • Carl Dahlström
  • Brennan Menell

Someone must have told the Leafs you can’t have too many defencemen. You likely can, and this looks like too many at first. Draw a line under Rasmus Sandin and assume the rest will sort into the Marlies/Growlers ranks. There are an additional six AHL-contracted defenders and one in the ECHL, making a total of 22 players for three teams. Suddenly it seems like a more reasonable number.

Some of the NHL-contracted players might end up in the ECHL again. In 2019-2020, the Leafs sent Hollowell and Duszak east for some icetime.

Forwards

The usual suspects:

  • Auston Matthews
  • John Tavares
  • Mitch Marner
  • William Nylander
  • Alexander Kerfoot
  • Ilya Mikheyev
  • Pierre Engvall
  • Wayne Simmonds
  • Jason Spezza
  • Adam Brooks
  • Nick Robertson
  • Joey Anderson
  • Mikhail Abramov
  • Semyon Der-Arguchintsev
  • Rodion Amirov - on loan to the KHL
  • Pontus Holmberg - on loan to the SHL

The new faces:

  • Nick Ritchie
  • David Kämpf
  • Ondrej Kase
  • Michael Bunting
  • Kurtis Gabriel
  • Pavel Gogolev
  • Alex Steeves
  • Kirill Semyonov
  • Michael Amadio
  • Brett Seney

PTOS:

  • Nikita Gusev
  • Joshua Ho-Sang

That makes 24 forwards signed to NHL deals that won’t be loaned to other teams. The Marlies have an additional 12, and the Growlers have six more. Most of the AHL-contracted forwards may be in the ECHL at least part of the time. But there is a lot more than one or two forwards to be cut from the NHL roster.

On the first list, draw the line above Adam Brooks, and assume everyone under that line will be cut. Brooks might stick around because his cap hit is lower than his salary, but it’s hard to picture anyone else on the roster out of camp, no matter how good Nick Robertson looks. In the new faces category, the line goes under Kämpf for now, with the health of Ondrej Kase still a mystery. The other big question is Kirill Semyonov, who has a KHL out in his contract, so he might be a Leaf or nothing, that’s up to him.

Good pros Amadio and Seney will round out the AHL and hope for callups, and while Alex Steeves looked interesting at Traverse City before he was hurt, he’s not NHL-ready.

The two question marks are Gabriel and Bunting. While a lot of people are assuming Bunting is a lock, even for the top six, he’s never played a full NHL season, has 26 NHL games to his credit, and the numbers (roster size or cap ceiling) aren’t in his favour. That goes double for Gabriel, who is very likely to spend his time in the preseason making his mark in the exhibition games, and his season in the AHL. Add Gusev to the mix, and there’s a small cast of forwards who need to make a strong case for a roster spot in training camp.

Someone always gets hurt in preseason, and October 12 is a long way away right now, so these problems have a way of solving themselves. But what seemed like too much depth at first looks more like a competition to find one player to not be just depth, but to be something more at less than $1 million.