The Toronto Maple Leafs released their line combinations from practice on Monday and I’m incredibly excited.
After seeing the line combinations at practice on Monday, it looks like we may have the answer on what they’ll look like when Toronto faces Columbus on August 2.
As you can see from the Tweet below from @LeafsPR, all five offensive lines and defensive pairings look like they’re all set for the playoffs.
Breaking Down Each Line and Defensive Pairing
Line #1: William Nylander – Auston Matthews – Zach Hyman
One of the biggest topics with returning to play was whether or not Matthews and Marner would continue to play together and it doesn’t look like they will be.
After having a breakout season, Nylander will be returning to play with his former line-mates of Matthews and Hyman and I’d expect a ton of damage from them.
Matthews, Nylander and Hyman were number one, two and four goals scored for the Leafs this year, so this line should be relied upon to create the most offense.
Line #2: Ilya Mikheyev – John Tavares – Mitch Marner
If you thought Line #1 was scary, Line #2 is right there.
The return of the “Soup-man” is huge for the Toronto Maple Leafs depth. After being named the Phase 3 MVP of Training Camp, he’ll be joining two incredibly skilled players in Tavares and Marner.
Tavares had 47 goals and Marner had 94 points when they played with each other for most of the 2018-19 campaign, so hopefully that magic returns against Columbus.
Line #3: Nick Roberston – Alex Kerfoot – Kasperi Kapanen
I’ve never been so excited for a third line in my life.
I can’t wait to see what Nick Robertson can do at the NHL-level and hope that he can actually make a difference. Getting thrown into playoff hockey is going to be tough for the youngster, but I think he’s up to the challenge.
It’s hard to believe that Kerfoot is the oldest player on this line at only 25 years old, but this line should create a ton of offense with their speed alone.
Line #4: Kyle Clifford – Pierre Engvall – Jason Spezza
A fourth line in the regular season is a lot different than a fourth line in the playoffs. With a shortened bench, you’re usually not relying on them much, but this line isn’t a liability for the Leafs.
Clifford understands playoff hockey with two Stanley Cup rings and Spezza is a veteran with a high Hockey IQ. I’m a little worried about Engvall but with two veterans beside him, he shouldn’t be an issue.
Line #5 (Extra Forwards): Nic Petan – Frederik Gauthier – Denis Malgin
If any of these forwards get in the line-up, I would expect Gauthier to come in for Engvall one night, and Petan to replace Robertson if he’s struggling.
Gauthier and Engvall are both similar in size so if you’re looking to replace size that would work, whereas Petan has a ton of offensive skill like Robertson.
Defensive Pairing #1: Jake Muzzin – Justin Holl
No surprises here. Justin Holl has proved that he’s a reliable NHL defenseman this year and pairing with Muzzin is great for him.
Holl has yet to play in a NHL playoff game so if he does struggle, Muzzin should be able to bail him out.
Defensive Pairing #2: Morgan Rielly – Cody Ceci
I’m probably in the same boat as many other Toronto Maple Leafs fans when I say that I wish Rasmus Sandin would be in this spot instead of Cody Ceci.
Rielly is the best defenseman on the Maple Leafs so putting him with a much worse defenseman in Ceci should benefit him, but I do wish that Sandin was here instead.
Defensive Pairing #3: Travis Dermott – Tyson Barrie
This is a sneaky good defensive pairing for the Maple Leafs. Both players are extremely gifted offensively, but can struggle defensively so it’s good to hide them on the third pairing.
Limiting their minutes on the third pairing should help them make less mistakes and hopefully they can create offensive chances when they’re on the ice.
Defensive Pairing #4  (Extra Defenseman) Rasmus Sandin – Martin Marincin – Calle Rosen – Timothy Liljegren
As mentioned before, it would have been nice to see Sandin fall in the top-six, but I can understand their reasoning.
Of these four defenseman, I think Sandin is the only one who has a chance to come into the line-up if everyone stays healthy. Hopefully Ceci plays well enough so Sandin doesn’t have to, but seeing Sandin play play-off minutes would be very beneficial to his development.
These line combinations are very exciting and I can’t wait to see them live.