After practice on Monday, Sheldon Keefe discussed the latest on Frederik Andersen and the plan for him for the rest of the regular season, the plan for the team’s new depth options in Stefan Noesen and Ben Hutton, and Travis Dermott’s fit on the right side next to Rasmus Sandin in Zach Bogosian’s absence.
Practice Lines – April 26
#Leafs lines at practice:
GREY: Robertson, Engvall, Noesen
— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) April 26, 2021
What was it like to have Frederik Andersen back out there today?
Keefe: It was good. The way I look at it is that we had him back on the road, too, so it is pretty similar in that sense, but he continues to make progress. It is nice to have him out there.
How significant would it be to get him back into games before the playoffs to make sure that he is comfortable and a real good option for you?
Keefe: Of course, that would be great for us. Our focus right now is just to go through this process and get Fred feeling comfortable and ready for game action whenever that is. He has been going along the path. We will make a plan for him at such a time as he deems himself ready to go and feels comfortable. Until then, obviously, Jack and Dave Rittich are going to go for us.
Do you think it makes reintegration into the team easier just because he has been around the group and the core for so long?
Keefe: I would say so. I am not sure how much that would be a factor. This is all health-related. It is a matter of getting comfortable. Being on the ice with his teammates certainly helps with that.
Andersen said it was really good to travel last week — not just to work out but to get out of his house and feel normal. Was that part of the thought process in bringing him — the mental health side of it?
Keefe: I am sure that went into it. With injured players, I am not really a part of those types of decisions, but I am sure that does weigh into it. I think the bigger one was just the fact that being on the road, in particular with a goalie, the goalie coach travels with the group. We have a lot of player development people that skate with our injured players to get them reacclimated and back up and playing. Having the same for the goalie is part of it, and then there is the medical team. We have great people who stay behind here and take care of our injured guys, but our main crew that is with the team is on the road. That is all a part of it.
You have a pleasant roster problem with getting some of your guys in. What would the forecast me for Ben Hutton and Stefan Noesen?
Keefe: I’d like to get them in. As I have explained to them, there are some challenges there. The biggest challenges are health and not wanting to make too many changes to the guys who are healthy. The Hyman injury changes the situation a little bit up front. When you have a guy like Adam Brooks, who has come in and played so well, Pierre Engvall there, and on defense, Rasmus Sandin has come in and done exceptionally well in the early going.
We want to get those guys involved for sure. Right now, it is just about the patience and continuing to work in practice and staying ready.
With Zach Bogosian going down, you are leaning on Travis Dermott in some different ways. What have you thought of his game in the last couple of games? What has the message been for him?
Keefe: I thought he has been good. He has paired well with Rasmus. He has done well on the right side. I haven’t seen any issues there or any hiccups. He has shown the ability to do that in the past. At different times, we have looked at preparing him for an occasion such as this where we needed him to play the right. He looks comfortable there.
He is going to have to continue to get comfortable in that spot, of course, and he is going to have to be comfortable getting regular reps on the penalty kill and seeing his minutes rising. That is a continued adjustment for him but one he has taken on throughout his time in the NHL. We expect him to be able to do that. The early indications are that he will be ready.
Is there any update on Bogosian’s prognosis besides the four-week timeline?
Keefe: Just the same. I don’t have much for you there other than it is healing and progressing the way we expected it was going to.