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Mitch “the orchard” Marner coming in HOT

December 2, 2019, 12:33 PM ET [240 Comments]
Lucas Neilson
Toronto Maple Leafs Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
It’s been a real see-saw of a season for the Maple Leafs in the early going of the 2019/20. Between Tavares and Marner being hurt and missing some time, the Leafs have had a catastrophe in net (backup) and have fired their coach. Both Hyman and Dermott started the season on the injured reserve and are both healthy and back in action now. So finally, after twenty eight games the Leafs just may have their full roster healthy.

It looks as if Mitch Marner will be returning to the Leafs lineup in the near future. He’s back on the ice in full flight sporting the blue and white; it really is a thing of beauty. Now we will finally see Dubas’ master plan come to life.

I’m one who always looks for a positive in a situation, even if the situation is an ugly one. The Leafs got a good taste of what certain players bring the table if given the opportunity. For example, we got a real good look at what Mikheyev brings to the table and if everyone was healthy he may have been buried on the fourth line. Instead we got to see Mikheyev is the real deal and it wasn’t just a handful of games at the start of the season where he stood out. He’s a great addition to the Leafs team and going forward they are going to have to pluck the odd gem out to stay competitive and under the cap.

With Tavares beginning to heat up, the timing for Marner’s return to the lineup couldn’t be better. This will be the first time we see Keefe toggle with the lineup as it will be healthy and ripe. The Leafs play against the Flyers tomorrow night and they have been red hot; the Buds will need to play 60 quality minutes to win this one.

If the Leafs have Marner back in the lineup tomorrow will we see Keefe play him with Matthews? It’s been a known fact in Leafs Nation that Marner and Matthews want to play together and Babcock wouldn’t allow it. Would the Leafs have enough pop in that line (Marner-Matthews-Nylander) if they replaced Johnsson with Marner? Or do you think Sheldon Keefe will go back to the Hyman-Tavares-Marner combination that led the Leafs in production last season?

Keefe’s certainly got some options going forward now that we all have a better idea of what Mikheyev brings and that there is why having an injury can sometimes benefit your team.

Personally I’d like to see Keefe give this a shot and see how it goes: (2 options)

Marner-Matthews-Nylander
Mikheyev-Tavares-Hyman
Johnsson-Kerfoot-Kapanen
Engvall-Gauthier-Timashov

Petan/Spezza as the extras.

Hyman-Matthews-Nylander
Mikheyev-Tavares-Marner

(bold is another option I like)


This may give the Matthews line a huge spark in terms of having three studs playing together who have always wanted to play together. I can only imagine from experience when you get the chance to play with your buddy who you’ve wanted to play with; you really up your game. This is no different and the amount of talent on this line is through the roof. Will they be as effective as we think without a grinder on the line? This is the type of line I salivate over and I don’t think you need a grinder on each line like Babcock used to set it up.

The Tavares line has been pretty good since being put together. If you know anything about Tavares, he can produce playing with anyone. Just ask Kyle Okposo and Josh Bailey; a prime example. JT and Hyman seem to be gelling together pretty good since reuniting. Could Marner really ignite this line? How much more effective would JT be with having Marner feeding him the puck as opposed to having both Mikehyev and Hyman dig the puck out, drive the net and look for JT in the slot? These are all questions Keefe must be asking himself as he looks at options moving forward.

Babcock was very set in his ways. So perhaps we will see Marner and Matthews become a dynamic duo. Hell, if Willy wants to join the party and show he’s worth every penny I’d be happy to have the three musketeers out there running the show night in, night out.

Having Johnsson-Kerfoot-Kapanen as the third line is ridiculous. This line is set to cause some serious damage against other team’s bottom six. They have an abundance of speed and both Kapanen and Johnsson have no issues putting the puck in the back of the net. Kerfoot’s production has been decent as well as he continues to build his game in Toronto with the Maple Leafs.

The biggest change with Marner being back in the lineup will be on the Leafs man advantage. As you likely noticed the Leafs changed their power play and have had Barrie and Rielly on the point. Will this change when Marner returns to the lineup? Call me crazy but I think it may be worth giving Barrie a shot as the power play quarterback. Nothing against Rielly, I’ve just been impressed with Barrie’s game since the coaching change and I’m all for the Leafs trying some other options.

Hopefully Dubas is working the phones as you read this; Hutchinson has got to go. I like they gave him a second chance, but I’m sorry that’s where it’s got to end. He’s simply not good enough for an NHL goalie.

Thanks for reading,

Tough week ahead for the Leafs so let’s hope they are ready to step it up and fnish the last month of the year with a bang.

Go Leafs Go!
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