Preseason standouts Fraser Minten, Easton Cowan, and Mikko Kokkonen are among those featuring in an AHL/bubble player-heavy Maple Leafs lineup for tonight’s final preseason game in Detroit (7:00 p.m. EST, TSN4).
Game Day Quotes
Sheldon Keefe on the buzz Matthew Knies, Easton Cowan, and Fraser Minten have generated as young players in the organization:
It is really exciting. The entire organization is excited — coaches, managers, players, and the scouting staff should feel very good watching their guys out here flourishing, especially at a time when we have traded a lot of picks over the years and moved a lot of first-round picks. To still have guys come in who are competing earlier than you would expect them to is really exciting.
It has complicated things around here, but that is the players’ job: to come in and make it hard for you. How it all shakes out in the end remains to be seen, but we have players who are coming — some quicker than we thought.
Knies coming out of college last year — we knew he was a good player, but could he make an impact in the playoffs? I think he did. It goes all the way down the line here for the players we have seen through camp.
It has been very exciting and fun. It has added a whole other element to the camp.
Keefe on what he’s evaluating in the final preseason game:
It is a good chance to see a lot of guys who are competing for spots, competing for callups, or whatever it might be. It is a good chance to see them against an NHL lineup. We are going to see much of Detroit’s best. As preseason games go, it is as close as you are going to get to an NHL game.
That’s what you wonder: What does it look like in an NHL game? What do they look like against NHL players? You get a chance to see that tonight.
The game itself is going to be a great challenge, of course. It is something that we are going to have to find ways to manage. But I am excited to watch the guys here. It is a good opportunity to go in with a lot of young, inexperienced people who are competing.
Keefe on Mikko Kokkonen’s impressive camp and preseason:
He has just been solid and consistent. If you are looking at a depth defenseman and a guy who can give you minutes, that is what you want.
In the games and the practices that he has been in, he has made very few mistakes. He has been solid with the puck and without the puck. He just looks really solid and comfortable.
It has been great. We have been really pleased with his development and what he has shown here. With the way that he has played, I have no concerns. If we need to recall a guy, he is in that mix.
Keefe on Simon Benoit’s three-penalty game on Thursday:
You are trying to be physical and you want to make an impression that way, but you can’t take penalties. I talked to him, and he knows that. He was the first to acknowledge it is not common for him to get caught up in something like that.
He will get another opportunity. As we have talked about a number of times here, he is behind a little bit in camp, so the more we can get him going and keep him involved is better for him. We are still learning about him.
Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lineup
#89 Nick Robertson – #39 Fraser Minten – #19 Calle Jarnkrok
#18 Noah Gregor – #29 Pontus Holmberg – #28 Sam Lafferty
#26 Nick Abruzzese – #53 Easton Cowan – #33 Roni Hirvonen
#43 Kyle Clifford – #15 Logan Shaw – #90 Max Ellis
#2 Simon Benoit – #84 Mikko Kokkonen
#85 William Lagesson – #48 Maxime Lajoie
#83 Marshall Rifai – #73 Tommy Miller
#60 Joseph Woll
#41 Dennis Hildeby
Detroit Red Wings Projected Lineup
Rasmussen – Larkin – DeBrincat
Raymond – Compher – Perron
Fabbri – Copp – Kostin
Sprong – Veleno – Fischer
Walman – Seider
Chiarot – Petry
Gostisbehere – Maatta