Maple Leafs Opening Day Lineup

     

    Coming into this years Maple Leafs pre-season, Leafs fans anticipated watching (for the first time in a long time) a very competitive training camp. Who will be in the Toronto Maple Leafs opening day lineup?

     

     Featured Image: Aaron Bell/OHL Images (Sportsnet.ca)

     

    At the end of last year, we received a glimpse into just how deep the Maple Leafs prospect pool is (especially at forward). Management took the last few years to re-stock the Maple Leafs inventory of prospects, many of them showing that they are ready to take the next step to the NHL. It has given Leafs fans the opportunity to argue over which legitimate NHL ready prospects will be given their chance with the big club to begin the year. Gone are the days of cramming the bottom 6 with ‘gritty’ players and contemplating why Byron Froese is seeing powerplay time.

     

    With the most recent exhibition game Sunday night vs. Montreal (Maple Leafs Hot Stove), the Maple Leafs opening day lineup became slightly more clear. Taking into consideration everything that has happened to this point, players performances and Babcock’s and managements tendencies, here is my opening day projected lineup.

    Maple Leafs Opening Day Lineup

    James van Riemsdyk Nazem Kadri Zach Hyman
    Milan Michalek Tyler Bozak Mitch Marner
    Leo Komarov Auston Matthews William Nylander
    Matt Martin Brooks Laich Connor Brown
    Peter Holland    

     

    Morgan Rielly Nikita Zaitsev
    Jake Gardiner Roman Polak
    Matt Hunwick Connor Carrick
    Martin Marincin Frank Corrado 

    Getting a Shot 

    Mitch Marner. The season’s training camp did not mean more to a player than it does to Mitch Marner. So far, he has impressed. In each of the pre-season games that Marner has played in he has been extremely noticeable. It seems more and more likely that Marner will at least start the year with the Maple Leafs, giving him 10 games to show that he belongs.

    Connor Brown. Brown impressed Babcock in his short stint with the Maple Leafs last year. He was one of the players that Babcock declared ‘NHL ready’ and for some reason, finds a way to have success wherever he plays.

    Zach Hyman. You already know that Hyman is going to one of Babcock’s favourites. He has pointed towards his work ethic multiple times since getting a chance with the Maple Leafs. Like Brown, Hyman can play up and down the lineup.

    Connor Carrick. After playing some games with the Maple Leafs last year, Carrick went on a tear during the AHL playoffs. He lead all AHL players with 18 points in 15 games. He has continued that play into training camp and is a strong choice to make the opening day roster.

    Missed the Cut 

    Nikita Soshnikov. He played well during his time with the Maple Leafs last year. Babcock mentioned that he thought that Soshnikov, Hyman and Brown were all NHL ready players. Unfortunately, Soshnikov has been injured for the duration of training camp. This may just be enough for him to start with the Marlies but do not be surprised to see him up with the big club later in the year. (Confirmed today that he will be starting with the Marlies)

    Josh Leivo. With a new young crop of prospects making their way through the Maple Leafs system, Leivo may have seen his last chance to make the Maple Leafs slip by (Note: Not waiver exempt).

     

    Featured Image: Aaron Bell/OHL Images (Sportsnet.ca)