How the Leafs could search up front until John Tavares returns

Maple Leafs centre John Tavares, recovering from an indirect muscle damage, isn’t probable to be cleared to engage in in Wednesday’s typical-period opener in opposition to the Canadiens in Montreal.

With 4 video games in 6 evenings, the Leafs will enjoy it safe and sound with their captain, who could overlook Thursday’s house opener towards the Washington Capitals as perfectly.

Fortunately for the blue and white, they have depth at forward. And the fight for jobs ongoing as they wrapped up the pre-year Saturday in opposition to the Detroit Pink Wings at Scotiabank Arena.

Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe and his staff members have been nevertheless taking into consideration quite a few alternatives up front, beyond the best line of Hart Trophy winner Auston Matthews involving Mitch Marner and Michael Bunting. They have until finally 5 p.m. Monday to submit the opening roster. Although a handful of candidates remained on the bubble, this is how the remaining strains may seem until eventually Tavares returns:

  • Nick Robertson seems to have produced the group. The 21-calendar year-outdated forward led the Leafs in pre-season scoring (8 details in 5 video games) heading into Saturday and would seem destined for the second line with William Nylander at centre and both Denis Malgin or Adam Gaudette on the other wing. Malgin and Gaudette had been in the lineup for Saturday evening. When Tavares returns, he’d possible centre Nylander and Robertson. Keefe praised Robertson and Pontus Holmberg — both forwards sat out Saturday — for their operate in instruction camp and the club’s prospective buyers camp in early September.
  • Ahead Joey Anderson was put on waivers Saturday, together with defenceman Mac Hollowell.
  • David Kämpf involving Zach Aston-Reese and Nicolas Aubé-Kubel appears to be like like the 3rd or fourth line for the opener. They were in the lineup for each games of the pre-period back again-to-back in opposition to the Pink Wings. That is very good news for Aston-Reese in certain. The 28-calendar year-aged veteran was in camp on a expert tryout. The Leafs would have to make room under the salary cap to sign him.
  • Based on Keefe’s modern responses, the shutdown line is possible to be Alex Kerfoot between Calle Järnkrok and Pierre Engvall. “I’d set this line out versus any person,” the coach reported. The unit would also be predicted to contribute on offence just after Engvall’s vocation-finest 15-target time, though Kerfoot’s 51 points had been a personalized higher. Järnkrok scored 12 plans with the expansion Seattle Kraken previous period, and has achieved the 15-objective mark 4 times in the NHL.

When Tavares returns, the coaching workers will have another rough conclusion to make. Speaking Saturday for the initial time since his indirect injury flared up, the Leafs centre explained: “Obviously I’d really like to be prepared to go for Wednesday. At the same time, you have to look at the big photo: four game titles in six evenings to get started the season, an 82-recreation grind, and ideally a two-month (playoff) grind following that.

“So, just keep on to strike my checkpoints working day-by-day, get the feed-back (from the professional medical team) and evaluate every single day exactly where I’m at.”

Centre John Tavares, recovering from an oblique injury, is closer to returning to the Leafs lineup but isn’t likely to be ready for opening night.

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