Toronto Maple Leafs: Key Week Ahead For Periphery Roster Spots

Photo Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Photo Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

The rubber is about to hit the road for those hoping to crack the opening night lineup of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The final week of the Toronto Maple Leafs preseason will see the return of the likes of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, et al. That can only mean one thing. The painstaking necessity of preseason hockey is just about over and it is time to get serious.

Key veterans will get in their final dress rehearsals to tune up for the real thing. The battle for the last spots will conclude.

The Leafs open the regular season at Scotiabank Arena on October 11th versus their long-time rival the Montreal Canadiens.

Let’s take a look to see where things stand and what needs to be determined.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Key Week Ahead For Periphery Roster Spots

Up to this point, the young prospects on the Leafs have provided the most excitement during the preseason.

Second-round picks Fraser Minten and Matthew Knies have performed admirably together in recent games, albeit against lesser competition.

This past summer’s first-round pick Easton Cowan has also impressed. He has been noticeable on the ice and his selection by the Leafs looks like a wise choice.

Nick Robertson has not had much luck in making the scoresheet, but his speed and talent have been on display.

Conor Timmins did not see much ice after he was acquired mid-season last year, but his offensive production during the exhibition games has been top-notch.

Unfortunately, a lower-body injury could potentially derail his hopes of landing a roster spot.

Timmins has earned a spot in the lineup based on his play. He could fill the void left by the injury to fellow offensive-defenseman John Klingberg should it linger longer than expected.

Knies’ performance this preseason has further solidified the belief that he can be an important contributor. He has often looked dominant and deserves an opportunity to start the season among the top two lines based on his play.

As encouraging as the play of Minten and Cowan has been, they are likely destined for a return to junior, where they can play important minutes in a variety of situations. This would not happen on the Leafs. It is the right call to send them back.

Playing in the World Junior Tournament is a reasonable goal for both during the upcoming season.

Robertson has not been as dominant during the preseason as other Leafs prospects. He also does not have to be exposed to the waiver wire for a return to the Toronto Marlies.

Yet, the mysterious silence surrounding Calle Jarnkrok might factor into his situation. If Jarnkrok is not available for the beginning of the regular season, a forward spot opens.

The Leafs backup goaltending situation also needs to be sorted out this week. It’s expected Joseph Woll will be named as the number two goalie since exposing him to waivers over Martin Jones would be foolish.

The Leafs will likely be forced to risk losing Jones to another team.

There is bound to be heartbreak for some players as the Toronto Maple Leafs make their final roster decisions.

Coveted opening-night spots will not happen for some, but the fluidity of the lineup throughout a season ensures players must be ready.

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This is only the first part of many narratives to come.