Projecting Lines: Toronto Maple Leafs
It is that time of year… just a few months out from the beginning of October which means the start of a new NHL season. This offseason was a busy one, so this series will tackle the projecting starting lineups for each NHL team.
With the Shannyplan rolling and Mike Babcock entering his 3rd season behind the Leafs bench, Toronto is excited to welcome former San Jose Shark Patrick Marleau to the team. Just where Marleau fits remains to be seen, as many have speculated soon to be UFA James van Riemsdyk could be on the move for much needed defensive help. If the Leafs decide to keep JVR, or no trade is available, the highest scoring team in the Atlantic last year may bring even more firepower. Toronto’s youth movement is well underway as the big 3, Matthews, Marner and Nylander, enter their 2nd full NHL season. If they continue to progress, a 2nd playoff appearance in as many years could be in the cards. With Brian Boyle heading to New Jersey via free agency, the Leafs have also addressed their 4th line concerns and penalty killing with the addition of Center Dominic Moore. All in all, it’s shaping up to be another fun year for Leaf fans everywhere.
L, C, R
Zach Hyman, Auston Matthews, William Nylander
Patrick Marleau, Nazem Kadri, Leo Komarov
James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak, Mitch Marner
Matt Martin, Dominic Moore, Connor Brown
While the Leafs can bring the offense, it is their defense that is called into question. Toronto is hoping the addition of Ron Hainsey, fresh off his Stanley Cup Victory with the Pittsburgh Penguins, can provide some solid veteran play in the top 4. As usual, the Leafs will be leaning heavily on Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner. The team is also hoping that last year’s surprise blue liner Nikita Zaitsev can continue to progress. To bolster their defensive depth, the Leafs signed a pair of Swedish defenseman, Andreas Borgman and Calle Rosen. Solid prospect Travis Dermott also looks to push his way on to the big team. While this trio is unproven, it gives the team options moving forward.
Jake Gardiner, Nikita Zaitsev
Morgan Rielly, Ron Hainsey
Martin Marincin, Connor Carrick
Acquired in a deal with Anaheim last season, the Leafs were very pleased with the play of Frederik Andersen in year one. The team hopes the goaltending drama from previous years is at an end and Andersen can provide them with the consistency they have been lacking. Toronto is looking for a repeat performance on his .918 save percentage last season. After being claimed off waivers last year, Curtis McElhinney has signed on to back Andersen up in the coming season. The duo will need to be sharp if the Leafs are to get back to the postseason.