KOSHAN: Taking a look at the Maple Leafs’ goaltending and defence as camp looms

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With the beginning of coaching camp on Wednesday, expectations for the Maple Leafs will kick into excessive gear because the membership will get right down to brass tacks with the 2021-22 regular-season opener looming on Oct. 13.


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At the moment, we check out Toronto’s goaltenders and the defence corps heading into camp. Tomorrow, it’s a dive into the ahead group.


RETURNING: Jack Campbell, Michael Hutchinson

IN: Petr Mrazek

OUT: Frederik Andersen (Carolina), David Rittich (Nashville)

The five-year, no-playoff-success Andersen period got here to an finish when the Leafs signed Petr Mrazek in free company, with Andersen hooking up with Mrazek’s former workforce, the Carolina Hurricanes.

Whereas the Mrazek acquisition marks the Leafs’ largest low season addition from the blue line in, there’s full confidence from common supervisor Kyle Dubas within the potential of Campbell to proceed on the trail that the 29-year-old set within the diminished 2020-21 season.


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With Andersen recovering from a lingering harm, Campbell ably took over, ending with a 17-3-2 report and a .921 save share. In Carolina, Mrazek was 6-2-3 in 12 video games with a .923 save share.

Campbell’s career-high for begins in a single season is 26, achieved two years in the past with Leafs and Los Angeles Kings. So long as he can keep away from the injured checklist, Campbell, enjoying within the final yr of his contract, simply will move that non-public high-water mark.

The want from Dubas’ workplace is that Campbell and Mrazek type a strong tandem, one during which coach Sheldon Keefe doesn’t must hold counting on one goalie over the opposite.

In 9 NHL seasons, Mrazek, signed to a three-year contract, has made a complete of 250 begins with Detroit, Philadelphia and Carolina. Briefly, he has supplied the form of goaltending in earlier stops that the Leafs would require.


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Whereas the Campbell/Mrazek duo has potential, it’s not on par, a minimum of not on paper in September, with what Atlantic Division foes Tampa Bay (Andrei Vasilevskiy) and Montreal (Carey Worth) convey. The Florida Panthers are retaining their fingers crossed that Sergei Bobrovsky can regain his previous type, with teenager Spencer Knight is raring to get his time in. The Boston Bruins are pinning their hopes on Linus Ullmark.

For the Leafs, there’s nothing of the NHL-ready selection after third-stringer Michael Hutchinson on the depth chart.

If there’s a long-term harm to Campbell or Mrazek? It could get fascinating, and never essentially in a great way.


RETURNING: Morgan Rielly, TJ Brodie, Jake Muzzin, Justin Holl, Travis Dermott, Rasmus Sandin, Timothy Liljegren


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IN: Alex Biega, Carl Dahlstrom, Brennan Menell

OUT: Zach Bogosian (Tampa Bay), Martin Marincin (Trinec, Czech Extraliga), Calle Rosen (St. Louis), Ben Hutton (UFA)

The play of the Leafs’ blue-line crew by means of all 56 video games in 2020-21 helped result in a defensive turnaround.

Toronto allowed a median of two.64 targets towards (seventh within the NHL), down from 3.17 (twenty sixth) in 2019-20.

And after permitting 31.9 pictures a recreation, the Leafs lower that to 27.8.

That form of consideration to element must proceed because the Leafs return to the Atlantic, which is sure to supply larger competitors than what Toronto skilled within the one-off North Division.

It’s the identical group returning, kind of, that acquired the job achieved by means of the common season earlier than the membership’s first-round collapse towards the Montreal Canadiens.


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The pairings of Rielly with Brodie, and Muzzin with Holl, supplied steadiness persistently, with Brodie rising because the Leafs’ finest low season acquisition final yr.

Probably the most pertinent query is what turns into of Rielly, the longest-serving present Leaf, as he heads into the ultimate yr of his contract. His subsequent deal ought to name for about $8-million US yearly, a big elevate from his $5-million cap hit.

The Leafs saved Zach Hyman final season relatively than commerce him, solely to see Hyman signal with Edmonton, and there may be little selection however to stay with Rielly. There’s no means the Leafs would get related on-ice worth in the event that they dealt Rielly throughout the season, and so they’re going to wish him to make a severe Stanley Cup run subsequent spring.


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Maybe the potential lack of Rielly in free company can be simpler to digest if Sandin blossoms right into a full-time performer. That’s the opposite query mark — can Sandin correctly take that subsequent step?

Dubas wasn’t in a position to fulfill his low season want so as to add some physicality that departed when Bogosian signed with the Lightning. As a substitute, Biega and Dahlstrom have been signed to one-year, two-way contracts.

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So was Menell, who could possibly be a depth-chart darkish horse. After enjoying in 5 video games for the Minnesota Wild two seasons in the past, Menell final yr had 38 factors in 47 video games for Dinamo Minsk of the KHL, ending second amongst league defencemen.

Biega has an NHL resume that features 241 video games, and he can be within the dialog with Timothy Liljegren to be the subsequent man up if a top-six skater will get damage. Dahlstrom, who has performed in 64 NHL video games, additionally must be a part of that next-tier group.

As for Liljegren, we are able to’t think about he has a lot endurance for settling for a seventh spot and/or one other season with the Toronto Marlies. It’s as much as the Leafs’ 2017 first-round decide to make Keefe’s determination on him tough.



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