Maple Leafs’ roster just about set as group gets final pre-season look

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Sheldon Keefe’s Maple Leafs lineup for the regular-season opener is near being set.

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And sure, that’s with one pre-season recreation remaining, on Saturday evening towards the Detroit Pink Wings at Scotiabank Area.

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From the way during which the Leafs coach broke down the roster for the ultimate exhibition tuneup, there’s one spot up for grabs, and that’s on the wing.

Adam Gaudette and Denis Malgin will get a final likelihood to strut their stuff towards the Wings, taking part in on a line with William Nylander within the center.

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The opposite traces, barring damage on Saturday evening, seem like good to go.

Auston Matthews between Michael Bunting and Mitch Marner is a no brainer. Keefe likes what he has with Alex Kerfoot between Pierre Engvall and Calle Jarnkrok, saying he could be comfy placing the road out towards any opposition. 

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Then there’s David Kampf between Zach Aston-Reese and Nicolas Aube-Kubel. Aston-Reese nonetheless should be signed, and although the Leafs are cash-strapped, there seems to be confidence within the group that it’s going to get carried out. 

When the puck drops for the opener on Wednesday in Montreal towards the Canadiens, and assuming Nylander stays within the center, count on Nick Robertson to be on one wing. Gaudette or Malgin, presumably, could be on the opposite.

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The place it will get additional intriguing is whether or not captain John Tavares might be able to play on Wednesday. Tavares had one other good on-ice exercise on Saturday as he recovers from an indirect pressure.

“I might like to be able to go for Wednesday,” Tavares mentioned. “I don’t assume there’s any hockey participant or athlete that wouldn’t need to be obtainable anytime there’s an opportunity to compete, particularly at first of the yr.

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“However on the similar time, it’s important to have a look at the massive image. (The Leafs have) 4 video games in six nights (to start out the season) and we now have an 82-game grind and hopefully a two-month grind after that.

“I simply proceed to hit my checkpoints daily, get the suggestions and we’ll assess every day the place I’m at.”

It will not come as a shock if Tavares made his debut the next week, maybe on Oct. 17 towards Arizona.

Keefe has preferred the camp that Pontus Holmberg has had, however Holmberg doesn’t want waivers to be despatched to the Toronto Marlies. The writing on the wall for veteran forwards Wayne Simmonds and Kyle Clifford appears clear.

On the blue line, Jake Muzzin will make his pre-season debut after recovering from again discomfort, taking part in with common associate Justin Holl. Morgan Rielly and TJ Brodie are the highest pair, whereas Mark Giordano and Rasmus Sandin would be the third pair.

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For Muzzin, he’ll begin to attempt to recapture the constructive influence he had within the playoffs final spring after an inconsistent common season.

“Throughout the season, there’s ups and downs and it’s a protracted season and I feel it was simply getting again to having enjoyable (within the post-season),” Muzzin mentioned. “I used to be placing lots of stress on myself final yr to be the right participant and that’s not possible.”

Matt Murray will begin in objective and is anticipated to play 60 minutes.

“Getting the gamers all in the identical recreation, to have the ability to really feel the stream of the sport the best way it’s within the common season, I feel might be the most effective factor for me as a coach (for Saturday evening),” Keefe mentioned. “You need to look organized, you need to appear like you’re taking part in hockey that’s going that can assist you succeed within the common season. 

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“The gamers need to get the conditioning components, timing components and most significantly, get out of the sport wholesome.”

FURTHER CUTS

The Leafs made one other spherical of cuts on Saturday. Ahead Joey Anderson and defenceman Mac Hollowell had been positioned on waivers for the aim of being assigned to the Marlies. 

Assigned to the Marlies was a gaggle of gamers who didn’t require waivers: Goalies Erik Kallgren and Dylan Ferguson, defencemen Marshall Rifai and Mikko Kokkonen, and forwards Nick Abruzzese, Semyon Der-Arguchintsev, Bobby McMann and Alex Steeves.

tkoshan@postmedia.com

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