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PPP Roundtable: Our Hopes and Fears for Training Camp

Tell us your biggest fear/hope for this season.

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

Who are you really looking forward to seeing? Doesn’t have to be a player you think will even make the team.

Brigstew: Seeing a healthy John Tavares again would be a balm to the soul, but when it comes to the potential of the team I’m really looking forward to seeing a healthy (fingers crossed) Ondrej Kase. If there’s any new player to the team this year that could have a big impact, Kase being healthy and returning to the form he showed in Anaheim before all his injuries would be it. He may not stay healthy, or if he does he may not be that good anymore. But I’m hoping.

Hardev: I’m excited to see SDA’s meteoric rise through the Leafs depth chart to arrive as the Marlies 1C to start the AHL season. I think he’s really good and he took a step over the summer, particularly in his offensive decision-making. Beyond that, I’m more desperate than anything to see Ondrej Kase or Michael Bunting turning into top six options. I think Ritchie is going to be a headache, Mikheyev is probably going to get traded, and Kerfoot will probably struggle to find a role because he doesn’t score enough to be in the top six and he doesn’t play defensive centre well enough to beat Kampf.

Katya: Michael Bunting and David Kampf. I have major why tho? feelings about those two signings and I’d like an answer. I’m hoping Steeves is better and can play because he was the second biggest surprise at Traverse City, I’d like to see him in preseason games. As much as anyone ever wants to see them. But mostly, more than anything else, I want to see fans in the stands having fun watching the Leafs, and not feel any fear about that.

seldo: I want to see the kids do well; SDA, Robertson, the new ones whose names I can’t remember. I’m excited for some hard battles between the new and old wingers. Can Kase or Ritchie bump Engvall or Mikheyev out of the line up? Also, of course, I must stay on brand and hope a miracle pulls through and Josh Ho-Sang performs like he did in the OHL and not the SHL and gets a two-way deal so I can break my “no more jerseys” rule.

Fulemin: I’d love to see if Ondrej Kase has succeeded in reassembling his body like RoboCop and shows up ready to explode criminals. Of all the many top-six-winger-question-mark guys Dubas has signed, Kase had the best peak. Hoping he gets back to it may be optimistic, but it’s probably likelier than Michael Bunting sustaining his 25% shooting or that Nick Ritchie turning into our own slightly less murderous Tom Wilson, so hey.

Who will not be in the best shape of his life?

Katya: Nick Robertson. He plans on being better at the end of camp, no every day, no wait, every hour of every day, no wait, every minute. Come back in five, and he’ll be noticeably better.

Brigstew: Wayne Simmonds or Jason Spezza or any other grizzled vet, sad to say.

Hardev: Honestly? This is just a random guess from me, but I don’t think Kerfoot is going to look very good in camp. This’ll be a combination between not really having a role in the middle six — can he play in the top six? Can he play a defensive role with Kampf? I don’t think either role fits for him and I think this is step two in a long walk of him leaving the team. Also, Mikheyev will either be motivated to win a better role or mentally checked out for a new team.

seldo: From what I’ve seen so far, it’s William Nylander because the shape of his head changed when he cut all his hair off. So senseless.

Fulemin: It pains me to say this, but I think Wayne Simmonds is going to show once again that Kyle Dubas’ greatest weakness is signing guys he likes personally.

Is Campbell v Mrazek a goalie controversy? Can it become one?

Brigstew: No it isn’t, but yes it 100% will even absent any actual reason for it to be one.

Hardev: No, because Mrazek is the starter.

Katya: Well, I think it is. Not in the sense that there will be hard feelings and agents making unfortunate tweets. But by the paycheque Hardev is right, and Mrazek is the starter. He might be a starter that expects to play less than 50 games, but he’s going to see himself as the number one — no letters. Jack Campbell is going to see himself, I think, as the 1A. He’s the incumbent, he was good in the playoffs, and he thinks this is his job. And for me, looking at their injury history, I’m wondering how many games Michael Hutchinson plays.

seldo: No, and absolutely yes. Well, not a real one but we can gin one up.

Fulemin: Maybe not in camp, but this year? Oh, I think we’ll have ourselves a sparkling controversy. Both men have a plausible case to be the starter (Campbell was a worthy Guy last year, while Mrazek has a longer track record) and I doubt we’ll be so blessed that neither of them stumbles throughout the season. The people who wanted Frederik Andersen executed for his crimes aren’t going to respond calmly when Mrazek has two bad games in a row and then lets in a blooper to start the third.

What is your biggest hope for this camp? Could be a player that makes it, or trade that happens or just a power play that scores on the Ottawa Senators’ C team.

Brigstew: Bunting being a real boy. He doesn’t have to score at the same pace he did in Arizona (and he won’t), but just being some scoring depth who can act as a bit of a pest in the top six would really help ease the blow of losing Hyman. Sandin showing he can not just survive but have an impact as a top 4 guy would sure be nice for the not so distant future as well.

Hardev: That the Leafs try some of the things I suggested in my Marner T25U25 article. Just try something different with the top guys for once. I also hope Engvall finds a permanent job, though it’s an uphill climb for him.

Katya: I hope I’m wrong about a whole big-ass heap of stuff this season, but for the camp, I mostly hope there is a legitimate raging argument about which forward to cut because they all really look too good to do without.

seldo: I hope we get to see another big trade on photo day, not that I want to lose another Carter Verhaeghe, but it would be fun and chaos and fun chaos is everything we need.

Fulemin: I’d like to see a third line I can talk myself into. I’m not so hot on this plan of David Kampf For Selke that we seem to be drifting towards. (I kid. You have to get a few points to win the Selke.)

What is your biggest fear for this camp?

Brigstew: Tavares isn’t the same, Kase can’t regain his past health or past form, Bunting was a flash in the pan, someone else significant gets hurt (please coat Muzzin in bubble wrap) Ritchie is too slow and penalty prone to be much of a net positive, none of the prospect hopefuls like Sandin, LIljegren or Robertson do anything to make us think they’re going to be much in the NHL, Matthews’ wrist still bothers him, one or both of Campbell or Mrazek already start being hurt, Keefe annoys me every time he says even one word to the media... you know what I’m going to stop there.

Hardev: My biggest fear is Marner tries shooting even more than before and his shot locations just keep going farther and farther away from the net. The whole narrative and PR around him is just getting....it’s just tiring. The problem isn’t him trying harder or changing his game, it’s the team forcing him to be someone he’s not. Give him a little less to do, and you’ll get more out of him. Take a little bit of the pressure off, and maybe he’ll actually look 6’0” on the ice.

Katya: My fear is that the Leafs look like an AHL team with one good line all preseason, and the mood will grow dark and ugly.

seldo: It’s a nice breezy camp with no controversy, everyone plays well, no one is lost on waivers, and it’s trade free. Let’s kick off the back to “normal” camp in a big way.

Fulemin: Keefe tries to hype them up by telling them to play like it’s a Game 7 and then they go do it.


Okay, your turn: pour out your hopes and dreams, fears and predictions for this training camp. We’ll try to do this again more focused on the season when we have a team to talk about.