In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs’ News & Rumors, I’ll take a look at two newcomers to the team’s roster – those two players are Zach Aston-Reese and Nicolas Aube-Kubel.
Second, I’ll look at Rasmus Sandin’s first practice and suggest where he might fit into the team’s lineup when he’s ready to begin the regular season. Finally, I’ll look at a player who won’t make the Maple Leafs’ roster, but who looks to become part of the team’s future. That’s Bobby McMann.
Item One: Aston-Reese and Aube-Kubel Bring Physicality
The one thing that’s been interesting in watching Zach Aston-Reece and Nicolas Aubé-Kubel is how much physicality they bring to the ice. They hit hard and punish relentlessly. Given how well that twosome, along with David Kampf at the center position, dominated the Ottawa Senators in the team’s 6-3 win, you have to believe that line will be a given for the regular season. That means signing Aston-Reese to a contract after training camp.
Both Aston-Reese and Aube-Kubel bring the kind of physicality an effective checking line needs. When they’re put against the top players on the opposing team, they’ll give them more to think about than scoring. When opponents have to look over one’s shoulder consistently, that brings an aspect to the Maple Leafs’ game that’s of great benefit.
Assuming the Senators’ game was an audition for the regular season, it would seem as if this line will become a fixture for the team. It will give head coach Sheldon Keefe a steady line he can throw out almost every time he needs to confidently take care of trouble in his team’s defensive zone. They might provide only secondary scoring, but there’s something to be said for keeping the puck out of your own net.
Item Two: Sandin Has His First Practice in Training Camp Today
Rasmus Sandin took part in his first practice at the Maple Leafs’ training camp today. Afterwards, Sandin noted that he felt better than he thought he would.
The question is where the youngster will fit in the team’s lineup. Although Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie are solid together and absolutely reliable, it might be a good fit to move Brodie back with Morgan Rielly and allow Giordano to partner with Sandin in the team’s third pairing.
Last season, when Sandin went down with a knee injury, Giordano partnered with Timothy Liljegren. That move worked well and helped Liljegren progress. The fact is that Giordano has a positive impact on mentoring other young defensemen.
That would leave Jake Muzzin partnering with Justin Holl. That assumes Muzzin is healthy. It would also leave Victor Mete as the team’s seventh defenseman. Giordano, who’s the ultimate team player, reports that he’s ready and willing to do whatever it takes for him to help the team.
Item Three: Bobby McMann Has Looked Good
Although he’s unlikely to make the team’s roster out of training camp, Bobby McMann has shown that he could effectively be a possible call-up this season for the team. Right now, there are probably too many forwards in front of him for him not to move down to the Toronto Marlies. However, he’s shown me that he could be part of the team’s future.
He’s got a natural offensive streak and he’s fast. He’s one of the Marlies’ players that has impressed me. I can see him being a steady player for the team in the future.
What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?
The Maple Leafs are short of defensemen. As a result, it might be that William Villeneuve could stick around. He seems to be a steady young defenseman who one day might become part of the team’s roster.
There were rumors that the Maple Leafs, with Jordie Benn and Carl Dahlstrom both injured, might be seeking a veteran defenseman either from another team’s waivers or as a PTO. Young defenseman Mac Hollowell would have to clear waivers so it’s possible he might be kept as well.
Decisions remain for this Maple Leafs team. Stay tuned.
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The Old Prof (Jim Parsons, Sr.) taught for more than 40 years in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta. He’s a Canadian boy, who has two degrees from the University of Kentucky and a doctorate from the University of Texas. He is now retired on Vancouver Island, where he lives with his family. His hobbies include playing with his hockey cards and simply being a sports fan – hockey, the Toronto Raptors, and CFL football (thinks Ricky Ray personifies how a professional athlete should act).
If you wonder why he doesn’t use his real name, it’s because his son – who’s also Jim Parsons – wrote for The Hockey Writers first and asked Jim Sr. to use another name so readers wouldn’t confuse their work.
Because Jim Sr. had worked in China, he adopted the Mandarin word for teacher (老師). The first character lǎo (老) means “old,” and the second character shī (師) means “teacher.” The literal translation of lǎoshī is “old teacher.” That became his pen name. Today, other than writing for The Hockey Writers, he teaches graduate students research design at several Canadian universities.
He looks forward to sharing his insights about the Toronto Maple Leafs and about how sports engages life more fully. His Twitter address is https://twitter.com/TheOldProf