The preseason comes to a close tonight at Scotiabank Arena as the Toronto Maple Leafs’ full NHL lineup — save for the bottom pair on defense and their fourth-line wingers — hits the ice for the final exhibition game versus Detroit (7 p.m. ET, Sportsnet).
The Leafs announced a round of cuts this morning:
The following four players have been placed on waivers for the purpose of being reassigned to the Toronto Marlies (AHL): Pontus Aberg, Tyler Gaudet, Ben Harpur and Jordan Schmaltz.
The following eight players have been reassigned to the Toronto Marlies and will join the Marlies‘ training camp: Darren Archibald, Jeremy Bracco, Adam Brooks, Rich Clune, Hudson Elynuik, Pierre Engvall and Teemu Kivihalme.
The only mild surprise here is right-handed defenseman Jordan Schmaltz not sticking around as an extra body on defense, although it’s not really a surprise given his underwhelming preseason. On the merits of their play, he lost out to Martin Marincin playing his offside, so there is not much you can complain about in terms of the opportunity provided if you’re Schmaltz. If he clears waivers, he’ll need to get down to work with the Marlies to keep himself in the call-up conversation.
It’s interesting what the Leafs process the Leafs are undertaking to decide on their final wing spot upfront. It looks like Egor Korshkov is going to get a chance on the fourth line with Frederik Gauthier and Jason Spezza tonight after Dmytro Timashov and Nic Petan played top-line minutes last night against Detroit. Korshkov got that same opportunity in his two-goal game in Montreal, so now he’ll do the reverse, where he’ll play 8-10 minutes in a fourth-line capacity to see how he fares. All players in contention for this spot will have had a look playing big minutes against AHL-calibre squads as well as a look playing down in the lineup against NHL-calibre competition. At the end of it all, Dubas and Babcock will decide who showed themselves as the best option for a fourth-line role for opening night.
The other thing to look out for tonight is the power play, where — if practice on Friday is any indication — we might see the Leafs experiment with a two-defensemen setup with both Morgan Rielly and Tyson Barrie on the top power-play unit.
You’d like to say this is the final opportunity for the Leafs to dial into their 5v5 systems play and special teams details before the regular season, but the reality is that process extends well into October for all teams across the league. Nonetheless, the veterans should begin ramping up tonight with a little more exertion than your average preseason game.
Game Day Quotes
Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lines
Kapanen – Tavares – Marner
Johnsson – Matthews – Nylander
Mikheyev – Kerfoot – Moore
Korshkov – Gauthier – Shore
Muzzin – Barrie
Rielly – Ceci
Gravel – Holl