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Kerfoot Not a Sure Thing For Opening Night with Maple Leafs

Center Alexander Kerfoot is back skating with the Toronto Maple Leafs but questionable for opening night.

The Toronto Maple Leafs had put together their new lines, in large part, because head coach Sheldon Keefe wanted to see the trio of Alexander Kerfoot, Zach Hyman and Ilya Mikheyev. Unfortunately, he may have to wait to see what those three look like together in game action.

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After Kerfoot suffered a minor injury in practice, there was a bit of concern about how long he might be out. The good news is, he returned to practice and skated with the team this weekend. The bad news is, there’s still no definite return date set for him to see NHL game action.

TSN’s Kristen Shilton reports word from head coach Sheldon Keefe is that Kerfoot is questionable for Wednesday’s opener against the Montreal Canadiens. If he can’t go, it’s unclear if the Maple Leafs will shuffle lines or if Keefe plans to keep Joe Thornton, Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner together. Clearly, adding more ice time to Thornton is not the way to go.

As per early reports, the Maple Leafs lines to start the season were:

  • Thornton – Matthews – Marner
  • Vesey – Tavares – Nylander
  • Mikheyev – Kerfoot – Hyman
  • Simmonds – Spezza – Barabanov

Players on the outside looking in were Nick Robertson, Travis Boyd, Pierre Engvall, and Joey Anderson. At this point, Engvall has been holding his spot as third-line centre but Keefe wasn’t all praise for the center. He said, “I expect Pierre to be better, to be honest.”

As For the Thornton Line?

Keefe took a bit of guff from Thornton for not putting him out there on every shift in the scrimmages this weekend. That’s a good sign. Keefe added, “I don’t think there’s a whole lot to make us change on our mind on anything going into this situation.”

So, for fans hoping to see the coach go back to the original idea of Thornton on the third line, it’s not likely to happen out of the gate.

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