clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Friday’s FTB: a way-too-early look at the Leafs lineup

How about those defense pairings, eh?

The Toronto Maple Leafs open their training camp
Toronto, ON- September 23 - Nick Robertson fires a shot at the net as the Toronto Maple Leafs open their training camp at Ford Performance Centre in Toronto. September 23, 2021.
Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

We are one day into on-ice practices for the Toronto Maple Leafs and I’m already way too interested in what the Leafs lines look like and what they mean. I thought I would share the two groups from Twitter and share my many thoughts on what’s happening.

From these two lists, here’s what I think the forward lines look like at the moment:

Ritchie - Matthews - Marner
Bunting/Ho-Sang - Tavares - Nylander
Kase - Kampf - Gusev
Mikheyev - Kerfoot - Free Space
Anderson/Brooks/Engvall/Spezza

Right off the bat, Adam Brooks is probably the placeholder for Auston Matthews (a job I hope he doesn’t have to do very often this season during practices). It seems pretty obvious they’re going to go with him, Marner, and Ritchie. They gave Ritchie the most money out of the free agents, and Mitch and Auston have been exchanging notes over the summer to improve their chemistry.

Now for the second line, I think Tavares is playing the role of benchmark for the two guys the team is most unsure are real deals or not. Meanwhile, Nylander is skating with Kerfoot and Mikheyev in the off-chance one of those two guys turns into the 2LW of their dreams. I feel like those are more backup plans than what the team is eager to go to.

The third and fourth lines were most tricky for me because they all depend on what happens above. One thing I do want to note is that there are two tandems that look like plausible anchors for the bottom six. The two Czechs in Ondrej Kaše and David Kampf, as well as the incumbent due of Ilya Mikheyev and Alex Kerfoot.

As for the primary extras, I think it’s pretty obvious Spezza is going to have a job. Wayne Simmonds doesn’t appear anywhere on the tweets, and all three of Anderson, Brooks, and Engvall are fighting for a job or two on the roster.

Now the defense. So far it’s looking like this, though I don’t think it’ll remain that way once we start the season:

Rielly - Dermott
Sandin - Brodie
Muzzin - Liljegren
Dahlstrom - Holl

The fact that these pairings have perfectly split up the top four across four pairings should tell you that the Leafs are trying to evaluate who can stick with the real boys. Does Dermott have the awareness and responsibility to cover for Rielly when he goes off for fun times? Because with Sandin he’s probably going to have to do that too. What about Sandin himself, can he stick with the big boys and run a pairing offensively with the team’s best foil in TJ Brodie? The very limited ice time from last year has indicated yes so far. What about Liljegren, is he flat out good enough to play next to Muzzin? And finally Dahlstrom is being tried out as the new Marincin.

What lines do you see? Tell me what you think in the comments.


Various Leafs and Branches

Ontario to announce preseason arena capacity for Maple Leafs | by: Katya

The Horrors of Maple Leafs Merchandise: Justin Bieber edition | by: Seldo

6 Maple Leafs camp notes: Ho-Sang willing to ‘sharpen skates’ to make team | from: Sportsnet

Enigmatic forward Josh Ho-Sang says he’s changed. The Leafs will give him a chance to prove it | from: Toronto Star

What NHL players think of the league’s crackdown on cross-checking | from: ESPN

Next up is a Nick Ritchie story. I can’t wait for tomorrow when Kristen Shilton is going to tell us Ritchie has a three-legged dog named Champion and a wife named April.

OK wait, I got another one:

The Leafs: “Mom, can we get a puppy?”
Shanahan: “We have a puppy at home.”
The puppy at home:

2014 NHL Draft - Round 1
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 27: Nick Ritchie smiles on stage after being selected tenth overall by the Anaheim Ducks during the 2014 NHL Entry Draft at Wells Fargo Center on June 27, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

We said this all last year, but Nick Robertson is a very raw prospect. There’s still a lot of baby fat (junior hockey thinking) that’s keeping him from excelling at the pro game. Lucky for him, he’s got two of the most respected hockey minds in the centre of the hockey universe telling him what to do.

Rodion Amirov was back from injury yesterday, at 3RW behind the one and only Nikolai Fulemin err Kulemin.

One final note from training camp. AHL defenseman Brennan Kapcheck has joined the team. No word on why so feel free to let your imagination run wild.

Oh Bode Wilde, do you even know who your boss is? I’d like to see you try using “human rights” to keep even a whisker of facial hair, let alone a mandatory vaccine.

How many points if Zach Hyman going to score this year? The answer is yes.

How many goals is OEL going to give up this year to McDavid and Hyman? The answer is also yes.