With the days continuing to count down until training camp in the good ol’ Niagara Falls, we’ve been getting more glimpses of Leafs players getting ready on the ice. And a name that hasn’t come up in a while appeared in some feeds yesterday, depending on who you follow, in Josh Leivo.
Remember him? Third round pick in 2011, decent shot, also known as the second coming of Frankie Corrado? All jokes aside, you rarely hear of any debates with Leivo being the focal point. That’s not really a surprise considering the other personnel on the Leafs, but Leivo isn’t even being included as a candidate to play on the fourth line.
It makes you think back to the reason why Leivo has rarely played. The easy answer is that others within the organization have surpassed him. Kasperi Kapanen for example forced his way out of the minors and into a regular spot on the Leafs this past season. He most likely makes the team out of camp this year.
The same goes for Andreas Johnsson (yesterday’s T25U25 btw) who destroyed both the regular season and the playoffs in the AHL and looked mighty fine in the NHL with the Leafs. But it’s perfectly clear where he slots in. The rising expectation is that he plays on the left of Nazem Kadri on the third line (LOL man depth is awesome), however, Tyler Ennis is kicking around and so is Leivo.
So the question is whether this is the year the Leafs, and more specifically Mike Babcock, look to the Innisfil native as someone more than a warm body in practice.
Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun included some lines from Leivo in an article after a group skate a few days ago including this:
I’m confident I’m going to make the lineup. There’s no other way to go. It has been two years now (on the main roster).
I think any answer anyone has for that is a shoulder shrug. Babcock hasn’t jumped at the chance to throw Leivo out on the ice in the last two years. And if skills on specialty teams are still a deciding factor, then he’s fallen behind again. That said, Ennis known for his penalty killing skills either. The most time he ever saw shorthanded was 21:45 back in the 2014-15 season with the Sabres.
As confident as Leivo is in himself, it’s going to take a mighty fine performance to get into a rhythm that ticks Babcock’s fancy. At the same time, at 25-years-old, he needs to find ways to play games this season if he doesn’t want his future in the league to take another hit. Keep in mind, he only has a contract for this year and that’s it.
Fans are going to be paying attention to John Tavares, Auston Matthews, and whether William Nylander is at camp with a brand spanking new contract. But my eyes are going to be on Leivo to see if there’s anything new to the table, and if he’s lucky, Babcock’s eyes will be on him as well.
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Does Josh Leivo legitimately make the Leafs this season?
This poll is closed
Enjoy your weekend Leafs fans!