Toronto Maple Leafs Upcoming Training Camp Battles

Michael Bunting, Arizona Coyotes (Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports)
Michael Bunting, Arizona Coyotes (Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports) /

With summer wrapping up, that means that  the Toronto Maple Leafs will soon be opening training camp.

After bringing in several legendary NHL veterans last season (which was, weirdly, just earlier this year), the Toronto Maple Leafs didn’t have much of question about who would make the team.  This season’s camp promises to be much more exciting.

Camp should open in around the middle of September, with pre-season games starting on the 25th, and the regular season starting later than usual, on October 12th. 

Here are the questions we have heading into training camp.

Toronto Maple Leafs Training Camp

The Leafs training camp should revolve around two major themes: developing rookies, and about 40 players competing for probably only two or three jobs.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have so far failed to augment their core with any meaningful development of young players who can contribute on entry-level deals.   Rasmus Sandin, Nick Robertson and Timothy Liljegren will all be looking to rectify that problem this season.

The Leafs could desperately use a star turn from one of their young prospects, but the most important thing is that they make the team.   Sandin is a near lock, Liljegren will likely be the first call up in case of injury and Robertson is a question mark.

Though he impressed by making the NHL directly after being drafted, last year was a write-off due to injury.  If Robertson can steal one of the top two left-wing jobs, the Leafs will be off to a best-case-scenario type of start to the season.

As for the question of who else makes the roster, a lot of that depends on what changes between now and the start of the season. If the Toronto Maple Leafs make no further moves, then there are two left wing jobs available in the top six (assuming they don’t go to Robertson and Kerfoot) and maybe one job on the fourth line, and one on the third line if Kerfoot is in the top six.

2 x Left Wing, Top-Six:  The candidates include Kerfoot, Robertson, Michael Bunting, Nick Richie, Ondrej Kase and Josh Ho-Sang.  (Note, Nylander could easily switch sides if, say Kase cracks the lineup and prefers right-wing).

3rd Line:  Barring a trade, or a surprise promotion to the top-six, this line will feature Kerfoot, David Kampf, and Ilya Mikheyev.  There is not likely a job up for  grabs here, though at times Pierre Engvall was played ahead of Kerfoot, so I guess he is also a possibility.

4th Line:  One assumes Jason Spezza and Wayne Simmonds will be mainstays on this line.  That leaves one job – likely Pierre Engvall’s to lose – and, depending on what happens higher in the lineup, a lot of people fighting for this job.

One good thing about all the extra bodies is that a lot of these assumptions could prove to be very stupid with the passage of time.  If the Leafs use Robertson and Kerfoot in the top-six, maybe guys like Bunting, Ritchie and Kase force the Leafs to not give automatic ice-time to the likes of Engvall, Spezza and Simmonds. Who really knows?

The Price of Kerfoot Just Shot Through the Roof. dark. Next

Defense:  The top five jobs are locked up, and that leaves room for a fight between Sandin and Liljegren (with Sandin being the heavy favorite) for that final roster spot.  I suppose Dermott or Holl could theoretically lose their job, but I would guess that that would take a couple months of Sandin and Liljegren proving repeatedly they are better before that happens.