Tonight in Hamilton, the Toronto
Marlies Maple Leafs take on the Detroit Red Wings in the second from last game of the 2016 preseason (7 p.m. EST, Sportsnet360).
The Leafs will dress only four full-time NHLers from last season, all of whom are depth players — Peter Holland, Byron Froese, Brooks Laich, and Roman Polak.
Josh Leivo will play in just his second game of preseason due to an injury picked up earlier in camp. There was plenty to like about his performance against the Sabres on September 29, but, as Babcock put it yesterday, “you can’t make an impression when you’re injured.” Needless to say, it’s an important game for Leivo tonight.
Also on the bubble is Frank Corrado, who should play big minutes tonight on a thin blueline group featuring only one NHL regular from last season in Roman Polak. Babcock, when asked if he would carry eight defencemen following today’s morning skate, said, “I might,” before mentioning there are some decisions he’s yet to make heading into the weekend. Corrado has made a strong case for a place on the big club roster with some confident play offensively so far in preseason.
Peter Holland will receive another look at center ice, skating alongside Colin Greening and Andreas Johnsson. Brooks Laich, meanwhile, will return to center ice tonight after skating on Holland’s wing versus Ottawa. One of the decisions Babcock might be sorting out is whether Laich retains the 4C spot or if Holland fills the role to start, pushing Laich over to the wing. There certainly aren’t 12 NHL forwards on the team more talented than Holland, and he’s shown the level of urgency to his game expected of a player who entered camp on the chopping block. He also hasn’t hurt his cause with the versatility he’s shown in preseason, playing well on the wing and down the middle.
For the rest of the team, there will be opportunities for some of the Marlie-bound individuals in the lineup tonight to leave a final impression on the coaching staff before they head to the AHL. Dmytro Timashov should get some powerplay looks on the halfwall, while Andreas Johnsson looks like he will get the chance to flank an NHL center in Peter Holland. Travis Dermott, who the Leafs have to make a decision on as to whether he will return to junior or start with the Marlies, may get into a final preseason game next to Roman Polak tonight based on the practice group pairings.
Toronto Maple Leafs Projected LinesProjected lines via @Kristen_Shilton based on morning skate practice groups. Official lines to come closer to game time.
|Left Wing||Center||Right Wing|
|Left Defence||Right Defence|