Popular Leafs website submits opening night roster projections and it's a thing of beauty

Published August 20, 2023 at 10:39
BY MIKE ARMENTI

It's hard to look at this year's Maple Leafs team on paper and not get excited. The core is the same, yes, but the peripheral pieces are different, not only in the way they approach the game, but what type of influence each will bring to the Leafs' locker room.

Max Domi is a skilled playmaker who won't hesitate to come to the aid of a teammate during a post-whistle scrum. Tyler Bertuzzi is a top-flight agitator who can put the puck in the net. Ryan Reaves is a team-first guy who will throw down to create some energy or seek justice if someone is out there head-hunting. John Klingberg is an elite PP quarterback and a quality puck-mover who can add offense to a blueline in desperate need of it. There's just not a lot to hate about any of these additions.

As far as how the roster might look come opening night, The Leafs Nation's Michael Mazzei released an article for TLN on Sunday, suggesting that we could see something like this to open the season:

Bertuzzi-Matthews-Marner
Knies-Tavares-Nylander
Robertson-Domi-Jarnkrok
Lafferty-Kampf-Reaves
Extras: Holmberg


Rielly-Liljegren
McCabe-Brodie
Giordano-Klingberg
Extras: Timmins

Samsonov
Woll
Jones

There are a few things that stand out with this roster. First, we see Max Domi centering the 3rd line, rather than playing on the win inside of the team's top six, as Leafs GM Brad Treliving had alluded to earlier this summer. Granted, Treliving isn't the coach, so if Keefe prefers Domi at center, that's where he'll play, even if he was originally brought in to fill a LW slot.

No surprise to see Bertuzzi on that top line with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner on what should be one of the league's most dangerous lines. We also see Matthew Knies in a top-six role for the Leafs next season. I love this idea. A lot. Knies has all of the tools to be a star in this league and slotting him next to a couple of productive forwards in John Tavares and William Nylander will certainly put him in a position to succeed. All 3 of Nylander, Knies and Tavares are legitimate shooting threats, but Knies and Tavares are also good around the front of the net.

The D pairs are likely to look a little different on opening night, at least for me. I get what Mazzei is going for with these pairings, but I do firmly believe that the idea from the very start from the Leafs' standpoint was to pair Klingberg with McCabe. We know that the Rielly and Brodie tandem works and for Liljegren, there's probably nobody better to learn from than Mark Giordano, so that's how I see things rolling out come opening night. There's also the fact that Treliving is still working to bolster his blueline to consider, so we may see one of these guys on their way out with someone else coming in - perhaps a more physical defenseman.

Obviously, there are no surprises in net here. Mazzei, like the rest of us, believes that Martin Jones is the clear cut #3 option for the Buds. Samsonov is the team's surefire #1G to start the season and Joseph Woll will get his first crack at being a full-time backup in the NHL next season.

This roster may not be the same one that ends the year in Toronto, but I really do like the balance here. As I said, I do think the D pairs will be a bit different, but if this is the team the Leafs roll out for the home opener, I won't be disappointed in the least.

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August 20   |   823 answers
Popular Leafs website submits opening night roster projections and it's a thing of beauty

Do you see Max Domi as a top six guy or a bottom six guy?

Top six, definitely20124.4 %
Bottom six, for sure23929 %
I see him playing a little of both, to be honest36644.5 %
See results172.1 %
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