Toronto Maple Leafs Team President Brendan Shanahan, GM Kyle Dubas and team captain John Tavares held a conference call with the media on Wednesday, providing updates on the NHL’s Return to Play plans, the chances of the city of Toronto being one of the two hub cities for a 24-team Stanley Cup Playoffs, items concerning players returning in advance of Phase 2 of the reopening and the Leafs playoff matchup against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Information about Toronto playing host to a dozen NHL squads or when Phase 2 or the play-in round will begin is still up in the air, but Dubas did provide updates on Leafs injured players and the composition of their expanded roster when the postseason begins.
Winger Ilya Mikheyev (who suffered a lacerated wrist tendon in late December) and defenseman Jake Muzzin (who broke his hand against Tampa Bay just after the trade deadline) have not been medically cleared yet but should be 100% to participate in on-ice sessions and training camp.
The Leafs GM also indicated that 2019 second-rounder Nick Robertson will be part of the club’s roster when they return to the ice.
“(Nick has) already flown back from Los Angeles and is doing his quarantining right now, so he will be part of it,” Dubas said. “The main thing about Nick is that he had a great season in Peterborough and continued to improve in what he can offer. Obviously he scored at a prolific level, one of the best scoring seasons in the history of the OHL. but it was the way that he scored that was more important to us, pressuring up the ice on the defensive side, making steals and scoring short-handed and on the penalty kill, which is how he scored his 50th goal.
I think more than anything, as I said earlier, conditioning level and the commitment to your fitness level as an individual and as a team is going to have such a major impact on how you perform coming back from this, and Nick is is a person who's as committed as any that I've seen certainly at that age, and I know what he's been doing since he's been back home in Los Angeles and quarantining at home and I know his commitment to be in the best possible shape that he can be and that combined with his talent and ability, makes me believe that he'll give a good run for not only just to be here but to potentially be on the roster."
Each club will reportedly be limited to a travel party of 50 personnel to the hub city, but at this point, the NHL has not stipulated how many players that each club may add to the expanded roster.
"We've had some exit meetings with Marlie players already, and at this point, we would like them to just enjoy the beginning of their offseason before they get rolling with their formal summer program whatever that will entail and we'll have to adjust that as we roll,” Dubas said. “We've got we've got probably seven or eight players that will begin making their way back if they choose during Phase 2, but definitely to be a part of Phase 3."
Toronto currently has 12 forwards (Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Alex Kerfoot, Frederik Gauthier, Jason Spezza, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, Kasperi Kapanen, Zach Hyman, Kyle Clifford, Pierre Engvall, and Denis Malgin), eight defensemen (Morgan Rielly, Cody Ceci, Tyson Barrie, Rasmus Sandin, Travis Dermott, Calle Rosen, Martin Marincin and Justin Holl), and two goaltenders (Frederik Andersen and Jack Campbell) on their active roster, and after Mikheyev and Muzzin are medically clear, it would be 13F and 9D.
If the roster is increased by eight players, one or perhaps both of the Marlies goaltenders (Kasimir Kaskisuo and Joseph Woll) would be included. On defense, rookie Timothy Liljegren would give Toronto 10 blueliners, but they could choose to add a veteran with NHL experience like Kevin Gravel or 24-year-old Finnish rookie Teemu Kivihalme.
In addition to Robertson, Adam Brooks and Nic Petan would provide depth up the middle, while Kenny Agostino and Pontus Aberg both have significant NHL experience. Jeremy Bracco missed significant time before the pause and had his exit interview earlier this month, so he will likely not be an option.
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