Added to the agenda is a pre-season game against the Ottawa Senators to be played on September 26. The Leafs will leave shortly after that, although details have not been finalized, but they play the Senators again in Saskatoon on October 4.
The Leafs descended on the city last year and they were met with soul restoring fan enthusiasm that helped set the tone for a strange year of happiness and losing.
The reward for all the losing will be reaped on Friday, and therein lies a wrinkle in the Halifax plans.
The schedule for the World Cup of Hockey, taking place in Toronto, overlaps with the Halifax game.
The round robin games at the World Cup run from September 17–22. The medal rounds run from September 24–29, with a possible game three of the final played on October 1.
Mike Babcock, the coach of team Canada, will not be in Halifax for the game unless Canada is eliminated very early. Morgan Rielly will also be busy with the team. And if the World Championships this year were any indication, we should expect the Finns to do well, so Leo Komarov may not be available right away either. Sadly, it seems like James van Riemsdyk will have a struggle on his hands with Team USA without Jake Gardiner or Phil Kessel.
But Auston Matthews is playing for Team North America, and they might just be the team challenging for the—what is the trophy again? Anyway, Matthews is not a lock to be available for the Halifax game.
The list of possible players is suitably enticing. Expect to see Andreas Johnson and Nikita Zaitsev for the first time, and potentially some of the 2016 draft picks. Edited to add: Zaitsev is of course on Team Russia at the World Cup and may not be around much either for this part of the pre-season.
Returning favourites will include Mitch Marner on the cusp of his first NHL season, William Nylander looking to make his mark as a full time NHLer, and Kasperi Kapanen, who will want to make a case against a return to the AHL.
Nikita Soshnikov, Connor Brown, Zach Hyman and Connor Carrick will all be looking to stake claims to the NHL as well.
And who knows who else the Leafs will have found to add to the team by then?
Last year the Leafs invited draft picks, prospects, Marlies, Leafs and a few players on PTOs to camp. The roster was huge.
A quick look at 2013, from back in the dark times, shows the true breadth of the changes on the team.
This is going to be a fun year! And it starts in Halifax this September.