The Potential X-Factor That Could Impact The Toronto Maple Leafs Playoff Run

Toronto Maple Leafs Forward Max Domi v St. Louis Blues
Toronto Maple Leafs Forward Max Domi v St. Louis Blues / Claus Andersen/GettyImages

The Toronto Maple Leafs have one potential benefit in how their roster is structured that could benefit them in the long run come playoff time, and can pay off if everything goes right, but can also help if something goes wrong.

If there is one shared trait between the Kyle Dubas and Brad Treliving Toronto MapleLeafs, besides a similar roster, it's that both rosters contain a large amount of versatile Forwards able to move around the lineup in different positions, especially when it comes to their bottom-six.

Leafs Head Coach Sheldon Keefe has shown a strong willingness to experiment with Toronto's forward pairs, willing to move players and up-and-down to experiment with what works and what doesn't, but is also not afraid to give players the chance to prove themselves in different roles within the team.

While the Leafs top stars, Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Mitch Marner (and William Nylander to a lesser extent despite efforts) largely stick to their own position, not guys who are moved around throughout the lineup, although Nylander has been tried down the middle, he's suited far more proficiently on the wing. Below the core four, Toronto has tinkered with placing their other forwards in a unique situation.

The Potential X-Factor That Could Impact The Toronto Maple Leafs Playoff Run

Among the Leafs current forwards able to play on both Centre and Wing include Max Domi, Pontus Holmberg, Bobby McMann, Connor Dewar, Noah Gregor & Calle Jarnkrok, who at the time of writing this is on injured reserve. All have been able to play both positions, whether with the Leafs or not at a point this season.

The Leafs, who's defensive crop is currently favoring the left side in terms of depth, have attempted to convert players onto the right to make up for a compiling of injuries, although both sides of the D have been unlucky in attempts to stay healthy throughout the season.

Even in their prospect pool do the Leafs seem to covet the ability for players to be versatile in the lineup, with top Forwards Easton Cowan and Fraser Minten capable on both the wing and down the middle. In the Marlies, Nick Abruzzese and Ryan Tverberg are two more examples of the versatility in the Leafs forward group, as well as Roni Hirvonen, who had played winger in Finland but appears to be settling into a wing role in the North American pros.

Toronto will need this versatility down the road as they work towards what should be a deeply competitive playoffs. Being able to rework what doesn't work will be key to make sure they have the ability to make changes necessary to guarantee a series win.

In past playoffs, Sheldon Keefe has shown a willingness to change things around if needed, and luckily has the tools needed where players can take on different roles, putting together the best roster.

The Toronto Maple Leafs defensive and goaltending fits are likely locked in, but the forward depth gives them some added flexibility to take chances in their bottom-six, and it would be hoped the team is willing to act if something doesn't go right.

Will Ryan Reaves bring the physical advantage Leafs fans would hope for, or will someone else stepping in do right? Can youngsters Nick Robertson & Pontus Holmberg handle the intensity of the postseason, or will their older players end up being more suited to take over the reigns.

As the NHL's regular season comes to a nearing close, the Toronto Maple Leafs still have time to decide on how their postseason roster will shape out, and which options give them the greatest chance of a cup run, and who will be the odd man out.


To the Leafs benefit, they have the pieces necessary to find that best roster after game 1, and consistent fresh legs could prove key in making themselves contenders in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But making too many moves, and experimenting too late, may be what ultimately bites them in the end.