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Mark Fraser Set To Return to Toronto Maple Leafs Lineup

One man out, one man in.

Just as Dave Bolland goes down, it seems that the Toronto Maple Leafs will have some backup, this time on the blue line, on the way.

Mark Fraser has said that he is pretty much ready to return to the Leafs’ lineup.

“Today was my best day yet as far as conditioning and comfort with no pain… It was a true test and as good as I’ve felt so far.”

“If it was up to me, I’d like to play this weekend, hopefully on Friday.”

The problem is that Fraser is a defenseman and that is not where the Leafs need backup.

Where Fraser fits in on the Leafs defensive depth chart now seems to be in question. When asked about Fraser’s spot, head coach Randy Carlyle said this:

“Mark Fraser will be a decision… Obviously with seven defencemen and the eighth one being John-Michael Liles now, we have decisions to make. And he’s not any different than any other time when we have extra bodies. You’re going to make the decision that you feel is best for your hockey club and gives you the best chance to win.”

One thing I would expect to happen is that John-Michael Liles will be sent back to the Toronto Marlies. There is no reason for the Leafs to keep eight defensemen with the team so someone needs to get sent down and Liles makes the most sense.

If Fraser were to be inserted back into the lineup, someone would obviously need to come out. Morgan Rielly has earned the spot he took after Fraser’s injury so he won’t be taken out. Jake Gardiner looks to be earning more trust from Carlyle so it’s unlikely for him to come out. And while Paul Ranger is not playing the best of hockey, he is still getting back to the speed of the NHL game and sitting in the press box won’t help him.

So while Fraser seems ready to play this weekend, it looks like the Leafs will just be gaining another spot in the press box.

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