Toronto Maple Leafs: Assessing the Roster as Training Camp Begins
Last year’s opening night lineup reveals some uninspiring names, especially among the forwards.
Denis Malgin, no longer in the NHL, occupied a spot among the top six for the first few games of last season. Nicholas Aube-Kubel cracked the initial roster but was soon an ex-Leaf.
On defense, Jake Muzzin started the season but lasted only 4 games. Former first-round pick, Rasmus Sandin, lasted until the end of February when he was moved out before the trade deadline.
The Toronto Maple Leafs started last year with Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov as a planned goaltending tandem. Injuries throughout the year saw Erik Kallgren and Joseph Woll play about a quarter of the games.
By the end of the season, after former GM Kyle Dubas rightfully loaded up for a playoff run, the lineup evolved for the better.
The roster that finished the season had much more depth, both at forward and on defense.
Mid-season acquisitions like Ryan O’Reilly, Noel Acciari, Jake McCabe, and Luke Schenn, along with the emergence of prospect Matthew Knies put the team in a much better position than when they started the year.
This past offseason saw lots of player movement. O’Reilly, Acciari, Schenn, Alex Kerfoot, and Michael Bunting left as unrestricted free agents. The Leafs had an interest in retaining some of them, but for various reasons, it didn’t work out.
That meant replacing them internally or with the signings of other free agents. Tyler Bertuzzi, Max Domi, John Klingberg, Simon Benoit, and Martin Jones were the most notable newcomers.
The Leafs potentially new lineup looks very different from where it stood last spring and drastically different from the start of last year’s camp, but does it have the look of a contender?