In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs News & Rumors, I’ll try to help Maple Leafs’ fans keep up with the ever-changing landscape of the Maple Leafs’ roster. In response to COVID-19 protocols and players moving on and off them, a number of changes to the lineup have been made over the past few days.
I’ll also share other news emanating from the team. For example, Rasmus Sandin looks like he’s ready to return from his injury. At the same time, the Maple Leafs’ organization introduces Chad Krys to fans as a member of the team’s new taxi squad.
Item One: Maple Leafs Line Combinations as Per December 30
Finally, something resembling the Maple Leafs’ regular roster is taking shape in practice. For example, on Thursday, David Alter tweeted the following lines that he was viewing during the team’s practice session.
Item Two: Maple Leafs’ Players Exiting COVID-19 Protocols
A large number of Maple Leafs’ players have exited COVID-19 protocols and have rejoined the Maple Leafs for practice yesterday. Those players included goalie Petr Mrazek, Rasmus Sandin, David Kampf, and Ilya Mikheyev. Travis Dermott and T.J. Brodie both returned to practice on Tuesday.
Item Three: Timothy Liljegren Tests Positive and Enters COVID-19 Protocols
Timothy Liljegren, who had seemed to escape catching the virus, has not. He was designated to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols late Wednesday. The 22-year-old Liljegren has only started to come into his own during this season.
He’s looked good on defense and has registered two assists in the five games he’s played in December. That moved him up to four assists during the 19 games he’s played on the season.
Item Four: Michael Hutchinson Elevated to the Taxi Squad from the Marlies
The Maple Leafs added Michael Hutchinson to the taxi squad earlier this week. Although it looks as if both Jack Campbell and Petr Mrazek will be ready to play, the 31-year-old Hutchinson will be kept around as the emergency option in case COVID-19 or other injuries continue to impact the Maple Leafs’ goalie situation.
Because the Maple Leafs don’t play until tomorrow’s game against the Ottawa Senators, Mrazek could have enough practice time to at least serve as the backup behind Campbell. Even with Mrazek ready to play, Toronto’s light schedule over the next while will allow the team to continue playing Campbell often during the near future. However, when the team starts making up postponed games, the 29-year-old Mrazek will become a key cog in the machine.
Item Five: Rasmus Sandin: Clears virus protocols
Sandin cleared the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols and excitedly returned to practice yesterday. Sandin had missed the last four Maple Leafs’ games rehabbing his knee injury. However, the word was that he had been ready to return earlier until his positive test for COVID-19.
The 21-year-old Swedish defenseman has had a great first season with the Maple Leafs. There are few doubters left who remain skeptical of his ability to play at this advanced level. Sandin was partnered with T.J. Brodie in the top power-play unit with Morgan Rielly still in COVID-19 protocol.
The word was that Sandin was super excited to return to the team to practice. At the same time, he reported that he was completely asymptomatic from COVID-19. (from “Rasmus Sandin ‘almost shaking’ with joy as he re-joins Maple Leafs blue line in practice,” Terry Koshan, Toronto Sun, 30/12/21).
What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?
With the institution of the taxi squad and players being promoted to this taxi squad, Maple Leafs’ fans might see some new players or hear some new names. For example, I had to review who exactly one of the two new players – Chad Krys – was. He had been moved this week to the squad.
For those like myself who need an introduction, Krys is a 23-year-old left-shot defenseman who was drafted in the second round (45th overall) of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft by the Chicago Blackhawks. He played in the US-National-Under-18 team for a couple of seasons and then attended Boston University. He’s been in the Blackhawks organization four seasons with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs. Earlier this month he was traded for Kurtis Gabriel.
Welcome to the Maple Leafs’ organization, Chad.
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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).
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