Nick Robertson takes a pass from John Tavares (or Auston Matthews or Alex Kerfoot), darts quickly to his left and lifts the puck over the Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender. Read MoreRobertson one of several intriguing possibilities for Leafs’ expanded roster — Toronto Sun
Nick Robertson takes a pass from John Tavares (or Auston Matthews or Alex Kerfoot), darts quickly to his left and lifts the puck over the Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender.
In overtime of Game 5 of the qualifying round, with the goal sending the Maple Leafs into the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs at some point in the next few months.
We’re sure more than a few in Leafs Nation have envisioned such a scenario in the days since Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas confirmed that Robertson, fresh off a 55-goal season with the Peterborough Petes, will be part of training camp, with a shot at cracking the Toronto roster for the qualifying round and the playoffs.
Considering the Leafs’ injury situation — only winger Andreas Johnsson, recovering from knee surgery in February with an original prognosis of a six-month rehabilitation, would likely be out — open spots on the Leafs’ roster will be hard to come by.
We expect that Robertson would have the best chance of any of those on the expanded roster to make an impact, though there is no guarantee that such an opportunity will come Robertson’s way (of course, that could change if the Leafs find themselves down 1-0 to the Blue Jackets and in need of a spark in a short series).
We have full respect for Robertson’s determination and skill. For the 18-year-old (he turns 19 on Sept. 11) to get into the lineup for Game 1, it would have to come at the expense of veteran Frederik Gauthier or perhaps rookie Pierre Engvall, who stepped into the lineup on Nov. 19 in Las Vegas and wasn’t scratched once afterward.
Ilya Mikheyev will be back from a lacerated wrist and should be in the top six. We don’t see how Denis Malgin, who had no points in eight games with the Leafs after being acquired from Florida in February, keeps his place in the top 12.
The Leafs, like the rest of the teams in the National Hockey League, will have the chance to expand to 28 players, with an unlimited number of goalies.
Of the players who are bound to find spots on the expanded roster, including Robertson, forwards Kenny Agostino, Adam Brooks, Nic Petan and Egor Korshkov, and defenceman Timothy Liljegren, none have NHL playoff experience. Brooks and Liljegren have previously confirmed their inclusion in the group of Black Aces.
Another expanded roster spot could boil down to one of defencemen Martin Marincin or Calle Rosen, with the other taking the eighth spot on the main roster, if the Leafs carry eight D-men.
Jake Muzzin will be back from a finger injury, and we figure that at least to begin, Rasmus Sandin would be seventh on the depth chart among blueliners, behind Morgan Rielly, Muzzin, Tyson Barrie, Justin Holl, Travis Dermott and Cody Ceci.
The group of Toronto Marlies should provide some solid depth for the Leafs in the event they need to dip into the group of reserves. The further the Leafs go in the playoffs, the greater the chance the Leafs, we presume, will have to call on any number of players.
Agostino was one of a group of seven free agents signed by the Leafs last July 24, and went on to lead the Marlies in scoring with 49 points (27 goals and 22 assists) in 53 games. Brooks had 20 points in just 29 games on the farm and didn’t look out of place with limited ice time in seven games with the Leafs, while Petan had 31 points in 25 games for the Marlies. Petan played in 16 games with the Leafs last season, but none after Dec. 12, though his 129 NHL games would put him in a high level of comfort. Korshkov had 16 goals in 44 games for the Marlies and in his NHL debut (and only game with the Leafs), scored in Buffalo against the Sabres on Feb. 16.
In goal, considering there is no limit, there would be little reason to not carry both Kasimir Kaskisuo and Joseph Woll behind starter Frederik Andersen and No. 2 Jack Campbell.
What has to be kept in mind, naturally, is that what will drive the Leafs will be the usual stars — Matthews, Mitch Marner and Tavares up front, Rielly on the blue line, Andersen in goal. Zach Hyman and William Nylander will be eager to resume what was an excellent regular season for each.
As for Robertson, what seems clear is that he is not far from getting a legitimate shot. If it doesn’t happen once the NHL hits Phase 4 (if it gets that far in the midst of the COVID-19 global pandemic) and the play-in round, Robertson will have all the more motivation to make the club out of training camp for the 2020-21 season.