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FTB: the Maple Leafs have prepared for expanded rosters

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Or not, if they don’t happen.

Toronto Maple Leafs v Columbus Blue Jackets - Game Four
TORONTO, ONTARIO - AUGUST 07: Pierre Engvall #47 of the Toronto Maple Leafs congratulates goaltender Frederik Andersen #31 as they celebrate defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets on a goal by Auston Matthews #34 in overtime of Game Four of the Eastern Conference Qualification Round at Scotiabank Arena on August 07, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario. The final score is 4-3 and the series is tied 2-2.
Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images

After signing Travis Dermott on Friday, the Toronto Maple Leafs have all but finished their offseason. Joey Anderson still needs a contract but there’s not much to worry about there. In total, the Leafs have top-pair right defenseman and re-invigorated their bottom six without moving a core player. It’s been a lot of great business from Kyle Dubas. The team feels refreshed and filled with possibilities.

A big difference from last summer to this offseason is the level of competition at every level of the roster. There is a genuine battle for the three final defense spots between four or more very capable options. No one feels like they’re being thrown in the deep end. And the same goes for the offense. There’s going to be a genuine battle for the sixth forward on the team, with as many as five available options for Sheldon Keefe. And in the bottom six, there is a mix of puck movers, finishing talent, and defensive suppressors within young players and vets who are all good at hockey. We think.

Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - Mitch Marner
William Nylander - John Tavares - Ilya Mikheyev
Jimmy Vesey - Alexander Kerfoot - Wayne Simmonds
Guy? - Joe Thornton - Jason Spezza
Guys: Pierre Engvall, Alexander Barabanov, Joey Anderson, Nick Robertson, Travis Boyd

Basically, there is injury insurance at as many positions as realistically possible. And going into a season shadowed by COVID-19, it seems like a really smart way to spend money from Dubas. If you have the money to have depth, whether in a hypothetical practice squad or the Marlies, do it. Europe is dealing with this at the moment, and when a teenager like Rodion Amirov can go from being the first line winger on Ufa to a healthy scratch in the period of a quarantine, the Leafs should want as much depth as they can afford.

It seems pretty obvious that the Leafs have made promises to lots of free agents in order to get them on board. Mikko Lehtonen is probably not getting demoted to the Marlies unless he completely bombs. Ditto with Alexander Barabanov. You’re not taking Wayne Simmonds, Joe Thornton, and Jason Spezza out of the lineup. Blink, and all of a sudden there’s maybe one or two regular lineup spots up front for the likes of Jimmy Vesey, Pierre Engvall, Nick Robertson, Joey Anderson and Travis Boyd, and negative one on defense.

Obviously the Leafs can’t play everyone at once, but with an expanded roster or taxi squad, they can get around their lack of cap space and have more than a 20- or 21-player roster. There will be players who don’t perform, there will be injuries, and the Leafs appear to be as covered as can be possible.


Various Hockey Branches

The Leafs signed Travis Dermott to a one-year deal at his QO

Two Leafs prospects are heading to a prospect tournament in Finland

NEW FANPOST: How to Resolve the Leafs Defense

The NHL and GMs had some meetings yesterday where basically nothing happened.

For context as the NHL finds its way through to the start of the 2020-21 season, here is what the NBA and OHL are reportedly doing.

This was an interesting visualization. The NHL has definitely gone away from slot shots and more towards netfront attempts, with the pucks getting there from the edges. Really interesting.

Welcome back to the NHL, Nikita Nesterov!