The Toronto Maple Leafs are set to play the Columbus Blue Jackets in a best of five play-in series when the NHL resumes play.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are coming off an injury filled season that saw, among other, Zach Hyman, Travis Dermott, Mitch Marner, John Tavares, Andreas Johnsson, Jake Muzzin, Ilya Mikheyev, and Morgan Rielly all miss significant time with injuries.
All of these players, with the exception of Andreas Johnsson, are scheduled to play when the NHL playoffs begin.
Should that come to pass, the Toronto Maple Leafs would skate the closest thing to a healthy lineup they’ve seen in almost two seasons.
But, if everyone is healthy, who plays?
Toronto Maple Leafs Lineup
With Johnsson not playing, the first two left winger positions will go to Hyman and Mikheyev. Though Marner and Nylaner could switch at any point, the Leafs two first-lines will look something like:
Hyman- Tavares – Marner
Mikheyev – Matthews – Nylander
The third line, will likely feature Alex Kerfoot centering Kasperi Kapanen, but with Johnsson out, the Toronto Maple Leafs could turn to rookie Nick Robertson.
Robertson-Kerfoot-Kapanen could be the third line, and I think it would be a fun line to watch.
That would give the Leafs several options for their fourth line:
Clifford-Spezza-Engvall seems the most likely, but Pierre Gauthier, Denis Malgin, Nic Petan, Adam Brooks and, with expanded rosters, other options as well.
It’s crazy to think the Leafs can dress such a lineup even without access to the incredibly underrated Andreas Johnsson.
On the Blue Line there are much more interesting questions.
Who switches to their off-side? Sandin or Dermott? Does Sandin even play? He should.
If I was in charge, I would have a “first” pairing of Rielly and Barrie (together the Leafs scored 60% of the goals they were on the ice for), which I would try to shelter defensively and use in offensive situations.
My second pairing would be Muzzin and Justin Holl, and my third pairing would be Dermott and Sandin. I would try to give the majority of tough defensive assignments to the Muzzin and Holl pairing, but realistically, the Leafs blue line is so adept at moving the puck, they likely won’t have to worry about defense too much.
Cody Ceci isn’t even close to as good as Sandin or Dermott, and regardless of handedness he should not play.
Hopefully when play resumes, Toronto Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe concurs.