In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs’ News & Rumors, I’ll report the bad news that Semyon Der-Arguchintsev was injured during the second preseason game. I also share the good news that Auston Matthews made his first practice appearance of the season yesterday.
Third, I report that the Maple Leafs have signed a new young goalie to a PTO. I’ll look at Ondrej Kase’s surprise start (at least for me) this preseason. Finally, I look at both starting goalies’ first tastes of preseason action.
Item One: Semyon Der-Arguchintsev Injured in Monday’s Game
Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe reported that Semyon Der-Arguchintsev (SDA) suffered an undisclosed injury during Monday’s game. Keefed noted that SDA got “banged up” and would be held out of Wednesday’s game against the Ottawa Senators. He’s listed as day-to-day.
It was likely that SDA was on his way to the Toronto Marlies after training camp completed (probably with his former line-mate Nick Robertson), so the injury wasn’t much of a setback for those plans. However, no one wants to be injured, so that hurts (pun intended).
Last season SDA played both in the KHL and the AHL, but scored only 10 points in 23 games between the two leagues. He’ll probably benefit from consistent geography; and, he’d probably also benefit from a consistent line-mates. If that line-mate were Robertson – as hinted above – what a great season that might be for the two youngsters.
Related: NWHL 2021 Draft Recap
Undoubtedly, Robertson is busting his rear trying to make the big club, but he might be up against the numbers; and, because he’s waiver exempt, he’d be an easy move. Reuniting those two line-mates, who made history with the Peterborough Petes back in the day, could make the Marlies a fun team to watch.
Item Two: Auston Matthews Shows Up at Practice
Auston Matthews was a welcome site at the Maple Leafs’ practice yesterday. It was his first day back with the team since training camp started. There’s no word whether he’ll play during preseason, which likely means he won’t. However, there’s also no change so far in the plans that he will be able to return for the team’s opening game of the season on October 13.
In fact, even short videos I watched of Matthews at practice showed that he could still put the puck in the net even with a not yet fully-healed wrist.
The mind boggles a bit when Maple Leafs’ fans consider that Matthews was likely covering his wrist injury much of the 2020-21 season. If that’s true and Matthews can stay healthy this season, all things being equal, one can only imagine the numbers he might be able to put up this season over 82 games.
Last season, the 24-year-old, coming-into-his-prime, two-way center scored 41 goals in only 52 games. He seems like a lock to become only one of a few Maple Leafs’ 50-goal scores in franchise history.
Item Three: Maple Leafs Sign Another Goalie to a PTO
On Monday, the Maple Leafs’ signed young goalie Evan Cormier to a PTO. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Cormier was drafted by the New Jersey Devils during the fourth round (105th overall) of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft but hasn’t yet played in the NHL. Last season he tended 11 games with the AHL Binghamton Devils.
Given both Ian Scott’s groin injury and Joseph Woll being hurt in practice, there’s a chance Cormier might get some game action during the preseason. Over the past three seasons, he’s split time between the AHL and the ECHL.
Item Four: Ondrej Kase Played and Scored During Second Preseason Game
I would have bet that Ondrej Kase was bound for the long-term injured reserve (LTIR), but he was both in the lineup for the Maple Leafs’ second preseason game against the Canadiens on Monday and scored his first Maple Leafs’ goal. That goal came at the end of the second period to make the score 4-2 for the Canadiens.
Even his coach seemed to be excited about his play. Keefe noted that he thought Kase was “a very versatile guy” and that he was “anxious to watch him more.”
Keefe added that Kase has a great offensive skill set, noting that “he’s also tenacious on the puck. I think he could play up and down our lineup anywhere we feel we need him.”
Item Five: Campbell and Mrazek Might Have Played Better
Obviously, it’s preseason. And, obviously the second preseason game is still very early in 2021-22’s scheme of things. Still, neither Jack Campbell nor Petr Mrazek looked particularly comfortable in the time they split in net. Campbell had an especially tough night and gave up three goals on only 12 shots (save percentage of .750). Mrazek made a few great stops, but he also allowed a goal on eight shots (ending the game with a save percentage of .875).
What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?
Today, that question is an easy one to answer. The team takes on the Senators tonight in their third preseason game. The word is that the stars will rest and give some of the players on the bubble a chance to show their stuff.
Specifically, the top three defensemen will be Rasmus Sandin, Timothy Liljegren, and Travis Dermott. That means that Morgan Rielly, Jake Muzzin, TJ Brodie, and Justin Holl will sit. With the forwards, Josh Ho-Sang, Robertson, and Ondrej Kase will get some big minutes. The goalies will be Mrazek and Michael Hutchinson.
Should be an interesting game to watch.
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