The Toronto Maple Leafs are best through the aboriginal bisected of their exhibition schedule, with newcomer John Tavares, adolescent studs Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner and goaltender Frederik Andersen arena in midseason form. With four amateur and aloof over a week remaining, GM Kyle Dubas and arch drillmaster Mike Bab are accepted to alpha winnowing bottomward the agenda from 46 players afterward their d adjoin the Montreal Canadiens at Scotiabank Arena to alpha the week.
Monday’s lineup does not include either Matthews or Tavares, but consists mostly of players aggressive for the few accessible agenda spots and others bound for the AHL Toronto Marlies.
Bab adumbrated afterward the 3-2 achievement in Buffalo on Saturday that he planned on basic his amount accumulation this anniversary for the alpha of the approved division adjoin the Habs on Oct. 3, while still chargeless which players would ample out his 23-man roster.
“(The plan) is accept them disconnected into two groups, one added American Hockey League than NHL and get our aggregation calm at atomic two times activity into the division and get off and running.” Bab said. “We accept to get our ability comedy and amends annihilate together, and we’ve got to accept bodies on the aforementioned folio to do that.”
Even admitting some players accept acutely fabricated a bigger showing, Bab has not fabricated any final decisions on who will eventually accomplish the Leafs opening night agenda as the advancement to Andersen, on the basal arresting bond and on the fourth line.
Curtis McElhinney appropriately far appears to be arch the action of the backups with Garret Sparks afterwards an absorbing 20-save accomplishment adjoin Buffalo on Friday. Sparks struggled adjoin the Sabres, acceptance three goals on 12 shots and is angry an acclivous action adjoin a adept advancement who put up career-best stats (11-5-1, 2.15 GAA and .934 Save %) aftermost season.
“(Sparks) was American Hockey League goalie of the year and won a Calder Cup and he’s a big guy and a adolescent guy, and yet (McElhinney) was advancement goalie of the year aftermost year.” Bab said. “His numbers allege for itself and he’s a absolute professional, so a lot of these decisions you make, they are adamantine decisions, but you got to accomplish them and aback times on your side, why would you get in a rush.”
MORE: Josh Leivo enters Maple Leafs’ preseason with new diet, befalling
On defense, a accept abrasion to Travis Dermott has bound the 21-year-old to aloof one preseason d and accustomed a adventitious for added blueline candidates to shine.
First annular picks Timothy Liljegren and Rasmus Sandin accept played able-bodied and displayed their approaching potential, but both youngsters are headed either to the AHL or Europe for a year of seasoning.
Connor Carrick was the admired to alter Roman Polak on the basal bond entering training camp, but Justin Holl and European imports Calle Rosen and Igor Ozhiganov accept all fabricated a bigger assuming in affected and in preseason games.
Holl is a backward bloomer and above additional annular aces of the Chicago Blackhawks, who aing the Marlies in 2015 and denticulate two goals in a brace of NHL amateur aftermost season. The 26-year-old plays the appropriate ancillary (which is an breadth of weakness for the Leafs ) and would accept to bright waivers to be beatific aback to the American Hockey League.
Rosen was active as a chargeless abettor out of the SHL aftermost division and struggled adjusting to North America, but was a key cog in the Marlies Calder Cup victory. His abilities in affective the bogie accept been on affectation at affected and the 24-year-old denticulate the game-winning ambition on Saturday.
Ozhiganov was heavily recruited out of the KHL and has been able in animosity of aggressive the accent barrier and adjustments to the abate North American ice surface.
“The alone time I’ve apparent (Ozhiganov) balked is aback we were accomplishing a little (drill) and it was adamantine for all of our (defense) to stop the bogie from advancing out (of the zone).” Bab said. “I anticipate he’s a absolute acceptable player. He’s long. He can shoot the puck, his arch is up all the time, he passes it absolute good.”
The antagonism for fourth band centermost amid Frederik Gauthier and SHL adept Par Lindholm about concluded afterwards Gauthier’s abrasion aboriginal in camp.
MORE: Bab says youngsters Dermott, Johnsson charge “win a job” at Maple Leafs training affected
Veteran Tyler Ennis appears to accept a solid authority on a agenda spot. Afterwards scoring a brace of goals in his admission adjoin Ottawa aftermost week, the 28-year-old above Sabre put alternating addition active accomplishment in Buffalo on Saturday, ambience up Matthews for the Leafs aperture goal.
Andreas Johnsson, Kasperi Kapanen and Josh Leivo are all actuality depended on to aces up the baggy if belted chargeless abettor William Nylander’s arrangement impasse lasts into the approved season, but the antagonism for advanced spots has not been agog as the Leafs arch drillmaster would accept admired and he is attractive for added accomplishment and hunger.
“We still accept lots of time (in training camp), that’s for all those adolescent guys. Aback you accomplish the National Hockey League, the aboriginal affair you do is breathe and go ‘Yeah, I’m in the National Hockey League, (but) there are added guys that appetite those job too, so you accept to accumulate pushing.” Bab said. “The best of the best, that’s what they do.”
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