In the remaining two days of August there is some actual hockey to talk about! That may change depending on your opinion of a rookie tournament, but, if you’re like me and are truly deprived, you’ll take anything you can get.

The Leafs announced the team they will be bringing to Place Bell next week for a pair of games against prospects from the Canadiens and Senators. There are some new faces, some old faces, and even some faces that used to be on the other side of the divisional rivalries. Every year the nation decides who is the one player everyone should take their magnifying glasses out and focus on.

Timothy Liljegren was the recipient of that title in 2017 and unfortunately, didn’t have the best debut in a Leafs uniform. But he turned the story around himself quickly with a fine season in the AHL and a Calder Cup Championship.

So, who gets the focus this year? The obvious answer is 2018 first-round pick Rasmus Sandin who the Leafs selected at 29 in Dallas. Sandin is a calming presence along the blueline making use of his vision to set up plays in the offensive zone or contribute to breakouts out of the defensive zone. Sandin has been playing preseason games overseas with Rögle BK and although returning to the OHL may be out the window, playing for the Marlies may not be. Perhaps his performance at Place Bell sets the record straight.

Then again, I’m also interested to see what Semyon Der-Arguchintsev can do. I’ve watched so many clips from the young centre (who doesn’t turn 18 until September 15th) and the passing plays he’s been involved in are a delight to see. Especially when he makes use of his skating and edge work to bypass opposing players and find his teammates.

But that’s me personally. Carl Grundstrom could be another high buzzing draw after how well he was for the Marlies in the playoffs. Others who weren’t as useful (i.e. Jeremy Bracco and Andrew Nielsen) may see this tournament as the first step to an improved season.

Another one of my focuses will be Matthew Bradley who signed an AHL contract back in June. It’s a dangerous world to inquire a lot about a fifth-round pick who had success in an overage junior year while playing at times with Sam Steel. BUT, Bradley could have a chip on his shoulder as his first impression with a new organization could also work to show the former one why they made a mistake.

Anyway, that’s who I’m going to be paying attention to. Which Leafs attendees are in your field of view?

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