Toronto Maple Leafs: Some Early Pre-Season Evaluations

William Nylander #88 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates with the puck (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
William Nylander #88 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates with the puck (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /
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The Toronto Maple Leafs have completed the first two preseason games. They played the Ottawa Senators in a home-and-home series on back-to-back nights with mostly different rosters each night.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have six more preseason games left, with their next game on Wednesday night against the Buffalo Sabres. Wednesday’s game will be the first preseason game for Leafs captain John Tavares. He was doing personal work during the Leafs first two games.

There’s been a few positives for the Leafs so far, but also some negatives. It is still early in preseason, and there is plenty of time to iron out those negative things. That is what preseason is for. Fans will likely have to wait until the final two preseason games against the Detroit Red Wings to see how this year’s team will all come together.

For now, the Leafs will keep playing a lineup mixed with NHL and AHL players. These games are a huge learning experience for most AHL players. They get a glimpse at what they need to do to make it to the next level. Some will earn a call-up this season, while others will have to wait. Here is a look at a few players who have stood out to me through the first two games.

Toronto Maple Leafs Early Preseason Evaluations

We have seen almost every player on the Leafs training camp roster play in at least one of the first two preseason games. Some look good early, while others clearly need a few more games.

William Nylander

William Nylander is play centerm during pre-season action. The goal is to have him be the Leafs second/third line center this season. He has only played one pre-season game, but he looked good. Nylander had five shots on goal and eight shot attempts, and showed great chemistry with Max Domi.

Max Domi

Max Domi showed off his playmaking abilities in his first pre-season game. He set up Nylander a few times for good scoring chances. His chemistry with Nylander is something that Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe liked a lot. Domi did take a roughing penalty early in the game, but that was his only blemish.

Noah Gregor

Noah Gregor is at Leafs camp on a professional tryout (PTO) and trying to earn a contract and a spot in the Leafs lineup. He’s played in both of the Leafs first two pre-season games. Gregor has not looked out of place. His speed and passing ability have been on full display early. His quick zone entry on Monday night led to the Leafs Easton Cowan’s scoring a goal. Expect him to get a few more looks and survive the first round of cuts.

Timothy Liljegren

Timothy Liljegren looked poised and calm in his first pre-season game. He was paired on the top defensive unit with Morgan Rielly and did not look out of place. Liljegren has developed into a good young defenseman for the Toronto Maple Leafs and it’s time to see if his impressive third-pairing numbers transfer to higher up in the lineup.

Easton Cowan

Easton Cowan looked great on Monday night. The Toronto Maple Leafs 2023 1st round pick did not look out of place. He scored on the power play, had an assist, drew a penalty shot, and had a chance to win it before the Leafs fell 4-3 in overtime.

Sheldon Keefe said that Cowan looked impressive.

Mitch Marner

Mitch Marner looked like Mitch Marner. He played a decent game with six shots on goal. Marner tied the game in the dying seconds of the third period to send the game to overtime.

Next. By Far the Most Likely to Be Traded. dark

Fans already know how well Marner and Auston Matthews play together. However, it’ll take a few games to see how newcomer Tyler Bertuzzi fits in on that line.