The Toronto Maple Leafs will open the 2015-16 NHL regular season with a date against their rivals, the Montreal Canadiens. That game will take place on October 7th, a mere few days away. By the time that match-up rolls around the Leafs should have cut down their roster and figured out who stays and who goes.
That’s why the preseason is so vitally important. It gives teams the means to see how their players perform. The Maple Leafs have already made some moves. We’ll break down who went and who is still alive, as the roster continues to take shape.
Professional Tryouts Are Done
The Maple Leafs brought in four players on PTO’s. Forwards Brad Boyes, Curtis Glencross and Devin Setoguchi, along with rugged defenseman Mark Fraser. As of Monday, these have all been cleared up. Boyes was the only survivor and was rewarded with a one-year contract, while Setoguchi, Glencross and Fraser were all cut.
Fraser has now signed a deal two-way deal with the Ottawa Senators, who were in the market for a defenseman.
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) September 28, 2015
Boyes skated for the Florida Panthers last season and put up 14 goals and 28 assists in 78 games. He has good speed, slick hands and should provide a nice boost for the Leafs forward group. Boyes also has a unique connection to Toronto. He was drafted by the Buds way back in round one of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. He was then part of the Owen Nolan trade and sent to San Jose. It may have taken over a decade, but the former prospect is finally back.
Mitch Marner Sent Back to Junior
This was a smart move by the Maple Leafs. Marner was given a taste of preseason action so that he could see what the future would hold. He had some good moments in those games, but was ultimately sent back down to his junior club, the London Knights.
The Leafs did the same thing with William Nylander last season. He played well, but was sent back to Sweden. He had a great start to the season before ripping up the World Juniors and later the American Hockey League with the Marlies. Marner will get a chance to do the same. Another year of OHL hockey will serve him well, and the chance to represent Canada at the World Juniors is definitely an exciting prospect.
New Faces Impressing
Everyone already knows that many, if not all, of the Leaf veterans who played on the team last year will make it again this year. Tyler Bozak, Nazem Kadri and Jake Gardiner are just a few examples. But how about the new players the Leafs signed or traded for over the summer?
Brad Boyes obviously impressed enough to earn a one-year deal. P.A. Parenteau, the former Hab forward, has looked speedy and dangerous through his preseason games. He’s also playing with a chip on his shoulder, which should be a benefit for the Leafs.
How about Zach Hyman? The young college standout was acquired by the Maple Leafs in a trade with the Florida Panthers. He has shown speed, hustle and tenacity whenever he has been on the ice. Another name who has been impressive is Martin Marincin, the former Oiler defender.
He has the reach, smarts and size to go along with his excellent possession numbers. The native of Slovakia made a solid case for himself as he tries to make the Maple Leafs.
It’s going to be a new-look Leafs team that takes the ice for opening night in October. Mike Babcock and the front office staff have a plan in mind for exactly what they want. This preseason is the first step to being competitive for the present and beyond.