Leafs vs. Canadiens game day, the first preseason notebook, and more in the links.

Leafs Links

Dreger: Rielly is getting close to being considered an elite defenceman (TSN1050)
TSN Hockey insider Darren Dreger joined Landsberg in the Morning to discuss the Maple Leafs roster spots, Morgan Rielly’s development into a top defenceman, which players have the best chance to fill out the bottom defence pairing and the Penguins announcing they will attend the White House after controversial comments by President Donald Trump.

He’s pretty close. Maybe not there yet. But the development curve for NHL defencemen is a little longer. There is still lots of time for Morgan Rielly in that sense. I can tell you he’s highly regarded and highly thought of [around the league]. It seems pretty clear that Babcock and company are trying to encourage more offense out of him. I think the pairing with Ron Hainsey, assuming they stick as a pairing, is going to be wonderful.

Johnston: Calle Rosen skating with the Leafs regulars
Good sign for Calle Rosén: He’s skating in a group with #leafs regulars this morning while other hopefuls are not.

Hendrick: This Leaf lineup has opening night overtones to it
Hyman – Matthews – Nylander; JVR – Bozak – Marner; Marleau – Kadri – Leo; Martin -Aaltonen – Brown | Rielly – Hainsey; Gardiner-Zaitsev; Rosen-Carrick. Frederik Andersen starts, might go the distance with Kaskisuo backing up.

Leafs Notebook – Roster battles and the Hyman/Matthews debate (MLHS)
So far this preseason, Calle Rosen leads the team with 65 shifts. Paired up with Connor Carrick, that might be a preview of the third pairing to start the season. He had a great rush against the Sabres, putting a good shot on net for a scoring opportunity before hitting Grundstrom backdoor for a tap-in (that he missed). Against the Sens, he got burned on the Hoffman breakaway goal, pushing toward the forward standing still on the wall and opening up the lane (Babcock wants his defensemen between the faceoff dots). He also has a bomb of a shot that he is not shying about teeing up. He’s not as physical as Borgman, but the rest of his game, particularly his skating, has been better so far.

Nazem Kadri out to prove he isn’t a one season wonder (Sportsnet)
Kadri laughs about how much time he spent in Babcock’s office in 2015 and 2016. “I always say my jersey’s in the rafters up in his office because the first year he got here, I was literally in there every single day,” he says. It wasn’t always fun, but it was honest. “We don’t have to read between the lines, we don’t lie to each other,” he says.’

Kadri’s newfound interest in art an extension of his personality (The Athletic)
Kadri’s growing art collection is part of his continued effort to make Toronto feel like home — he also owns a house in his hometown of London, Ont. — just as his once up-and-down career looks to be steadying. At the moment, Kadri is in a place not all professional hockey players get to. In year two of a six-year contract with the Leafs, and having recorded a career-best 61 points last season, Kadri is now comfortable pursuing other passions besides hockey.

Whether with Leafs or Marlies, Greening remains a true professional (SN)
Even at the dinner table, Dermott learned from Greening. He recalled a night last season where he saw Greening eating pasta and white rice during a pregame meal and asked why. As far as he had known, whole grains were better for the body. Greening explained to Dermott that whole grains release energy slower so immediately prior to a game, it was better to eat pasta and white rice, foods that concentrate their energy-unlock into a shorter timeframe leaving you with more energy during the game. Dermott said he was amazed at how willing Greening was to share information that he had picked up throughout his career.

In Andersen, Maple Leafs trust (Toronto Star)
Andersen stopped 17 of 18 shots in Saturday’s exhibition win in Buffalo, and 35 of 38 overall (a .921 save percentage) in parts of two games so far. His goals-against average is 2.25 — a small sample size to be sure, but reason to feel optimistic. “I’m starting to feel really good out there, even though we didn’t give up a lot of chances,” Andersen said after the win in Buffalo. “I feel real good moving around. I felt (I was) on the puck all the time.”

Competition for roster spots getting tighter as Leafs down Sabres (TSN)
“I don’t have any answers for you, so that must mean it’s pretty competitive,” Mike Babcock said of the clash for a third-pairing spot. “It’s a stressful time of year; it’s an individual time of year. If you’re in one of those spots where you’re in a battle, you’re doing the math every day and when you leave the rink you’re still winding yourself into the ground, that’s just the way it is.”

Leafs’ Moore focused on learning system (Toronto Sun)
“We did some good things tonight,” Moore said. “I thought our line (with wingers Kerby Rychel and Andreas Johnsson) had some good plays, some good energy, we created a lot of turnovers and some close plays around the net. I thought we were tracking well.”