Three New Toronto Maple Leafs Who Impressed on Opening Night

OTTAWA, ON - SEPTEMBER 18: Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Ilya Mikheyev (65) keeps eyes on the play during third period National Hockey League preseason action between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators on September 18, 2019, at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, ON, Canada. (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
OTTAWA, ON - SEPTEMBER 18: Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Ilya Mikheyev (65) keeps eyes on the play during third period National Hockey League preseason action between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators on September 18, 2019, at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, ON, Canada. (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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The Toronto Maple Leafs kicked off the 2019-20 season last night and it went exactly as Leaf fans hoped it would.

The Toronto Maple Leafs faced off against the Ottawa Senators to start the season and came away with a 5-3 win. Led by two goals from Auston Matthews, 11 out of the 18 skaters dressed last night registered a point, so the scoring was all over the place. All in all, it was a great game and really showcased the offensive talent the Leafs have this year.

Heading into last night’s game, there were seven players who put on the Leafs jersey for the first time. Some of them came from another team, some of them were making their NHL debut as a whole. Either way, after watching last night’s game, I picked out three of the seven newcomers who I think really made a mark in their debut for the blue and white. Let’s have a look.

Tyson Barrie (Acquired via trade from Colorado)

The trade that brought Barrie as well as fellow newcomer Alex Kerfoot left Toronto Maple Leafs fans with mixed emotions.

This is because the deal involved sending fan-favourite and longest-tenured Leaf Nazem Kadri back to the Colorado Avalanche. As a result, Barrie had a little bit of a bigger spotlight on him. In the end, the extra pressure didn’t faze him at all.

Barrie wasted no time making his mark in a Leafs uniform, finishing the game with two assists, including a nifty spin move to set up Ilya Mikheyev for his first NHL goal.

Overall, Barrie looked like exactly what Leaf fans can expect from him at his best. He quarterbacked the second powerplay unit with ease, made plenty of clean breakout passes, and overall just looked comfortable in his position. His style of game fits the Maple Leafs’ system perfectly.

Ilya Mikheyev (Acquired via free agency from KHL on a one-year contract)

Mikheyev was a bit of a different story heading into last night’s game. While fans had an idea of what to expect from Barrie, given the fact that he’s been in the NHL for several years, Mikheyev was going to be getting his first taste of North American hockey. And it could have gone in any direction.

He could have fit right in, or he could have looked out of place. It’s always a wildcard when it comes to signing free agents from Russia or even just Europe in general (Igor Ozhiganov is a perfect example of the latter).

In the end, Mikheyev looked very, very good. Playing on the third line along with Alex Kerfoot and Trevor Moore, Mikheyev tallied his first NHL point with an assist on Trevor Moore’s second period goal, and then wasted little time by tallying his first NHL goal off a nice feed from Tyson Barrie.

Mikheyev finished the game with two points and apparently already has lots of trust from head coach Mike Babcock. Babcock gave Mikheyev penalty killing minutes and gave him lots of opportunity to shine last night in general. All in all, Mikheyev boasts 40-50 point potential and it’s going to be interesting to see how he fares for the rest of the season.

Rasmus Sandin (Drafted 29th overall in 2018)

We covered a trade acquisition in Barrie and a free agent signing in Mikheyev, so why don’t we finish it off with some homegrown talent in Rasmus Sandin. Over the past season, the Sandin pick from 2018 is looking more and more like a potential steal.

It’s obviously way too early to deem the pick as anything, given that it was only one year ago, but when you consider that Sandin put up 28 points in 42 games as an 18-year-old defenseman in the AHL and logged over 30 minutes of ice time in his final preseason game this year? Yeah, things are looking pretty good for the young Swede.

Sandin had a good enough preseason for the Maple Leafs to give him a shot with the team to start the season, and he didn’t disappoint in his first game. Playing alongside of Martin Marincin, he registered his first NHL point with an assist on Frederik Gauthier’s second period tally and looked more than comfortable all game long.

Sandin is looking like an NHL regular already and will likely force Toronto Maple Leafs management to make a decision on what to do with him once Travis Dermott comes back from injury in about a month’s time. If Sandin keeps this play up over the next month, there’s really no reason why the Leafs should send him down.