Ilya Mikheyev, Toronto Maple Leafs

There was plenty of Maple Leafs news on this holiday Monday, as we got a sneak peek of what the team’s lineup will look like for Wednesday night’s season-opener against the Montreal Canadiens.

First, and most importantly, star forward Auston Matthews won’t play this week as he continues to recover from off-season wrist surgery. After sitting out all of the team’s pre-season games, the 24-year-old won’t be ready for game one of the regular season after all. In the perspective of a long 82-game grind, erring on the side of caution with Matthews’ recovery is rarely a bad idea.

Next, Ilya Mikheyev will need thumb surgery and is likely to miss about eight weeks. The 27-year old was injured in Saturday’s preseason finale against Ottawa, and his absence could keep players like Michael Amadio and Timothy Liljegren in the lineup. Michael Bunting figures to take his spot in the top six, and you can expect players like Pierre Engvall to take on a bigger role on the penalty kill.

In addition to these injuries, the team also lost 25-year-old center Adam Brooks after he was claimed on waivers by the Montreal Canadiens. A fourth-round pick by the Maple Leafs in the 2016 draft, Brooks ended up playing 20 games for the Leafs between the regular season and playoffs. His lack of size and speed limited him, but he’s a smart, skilled center who produced four goals in 11 games after helping the Toronto Marlies to the Calder Cup championship in 2018.

The lines in today’s practice were as follows:

With Matthews out, Mitch Marner is reunited with John Tavares, giving him two big bodies to set up around the net. Alex Kerfoot is reunited with William Nylander after the two players found chemistry in the playoffs, while Michael Bunting jumps up into the top six following a successful preseason. Meanwhile, Pierre Engvall joins the new shutdown line with David Kampf and Ondrej Kase, who could see some time against Nick Suzuki in game one.

It looks like Amadio will be in the opening night lineup, which did not seem likely a month ago. The 25-year old won the last roster spot over Adam Brooks and also carries the ability to play both center and wing. Amadio and Brooks were born a week apart, and both were former top scorers in the CHL. However, Amadio brings more size and strength to the table (as well as a right-handed faceoff taker) and has actually played over eight times more NHL games than Brooks.

The final thing to watch for is on defense, as it looks like Rasmus Sandin was paired with Timothy Liljegren rather than Travis Dermott. Liljegren, 22, was Toronto’s first-round pick back in 2017 and has spent parts of four seasons with the Toronto Marlies. While it certainly looks like he’s NHL ready at this point, the Leafs can send him down to the AHL without putting him on waivers. It looked like Liljegren was destined for the Marlies a few days ago, but Mikheyev’s injury may have opened up enough cap space to change the plans. With a back-to-back to start the season, I’d expect Liljegren and Dermott to rotate spots this week.

Finally, we learned about Toronto’s goaltending plans for the team’s first two games:

No surprises here. Jack Campbell has earned the opening night assignment with his play last season. Petr Mrazek was always the likely option for game two given the back-to-back, and we can probably expect a regular rotation throughout the season. The Leafs then play Saturday against the Senators before taking on the New York Rangers on Monday. It will be interesting to see who plays on Monday, especially if Saturday night’s goaltender plays well.