There are several things I’m looking forward to seeing this season from the Toronto Maple Leafs. Obviously, I’m looking forward to seeing how much improved the team’s first line might be. I’m also looking forward to the team’s defense and wondering what will happen in goal.
But perhaps the one aspect of the team that I’m most looking forward to is the fourth line. I admit that I’ll miss Jason Spezza, but I’m so anxious to watch the kids play.
By kids, I mean the young players who might jump up from the Toronto Marlies like Joey Anderson, Nick Abruzzese, Alex Steeves, and Pontus Holmberg. I’m also looking forward to seeing how the three young players the Maple Leafs signed in the offseason thus far – those being Adam Gaudette, Nicolas Aube-Kubel, and Denis Malgin – perform.
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Two Farm Systems for the Maple Leafs
I have a belief that the fourth line should be an energy line. They should crash and bang and play disruptive defense. They should fly as high and as fast as they can within the time they’re given and be determined by a sheer act of will to make life as uncomfortable as possible for the other team.
I also believe that the Toronto Marlies should be the farm system for the entire Toronto Maple Leafs’ roster, but the fourth line should be the farm system for the top three lines. Let the kids earn their time and, when they do, give it to them.
A High-Energy, Hard-Forechecking Group of HellRaisers
As much as I like and respect Wayne Simmonds, I think he won’t (and shouldn’t) be given heavy ice time. Same with Kyle Clifford. Instead, a major reshaping of the team’s fourth line for the 2022-23 regular season should include Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Adam Gaudette. I’m not sure who the other partners would be, but they could be Nick Robertson, Joey Anderson, Denis Malgin, Nick Abruzzese, Alex Steeves, or Pontus Holmberg.
In an early interview, Aube-Kubel confidently noted, “I know myself to be physical and fast. … I’m really tenacious. You guys will see it next season.” That’s the attitude I believe should fuel the play of the fourth line. (from “New Leafs forward Nicolas Aubé-Kubel is warming up the enemy, Kevin McGran, Toronto Sun, 15/07/2022).
I know Adam Gaudette from watching him play with the Vancouver Canucks. If he can recapture his game, he can add some secondary scoring to this line. He scored 33 points in 59 games with the Canucks during the 2019-20 regular season. Can he do that again?
Denis Malgin had some great seasons with the Florida Panthers and, after struggling offensively within the Maple Leafs’ organization, he went home to Switzerland and played well. He’s small but he’s got talent. I’d like to see him get a shot with the fourth line.
Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Physicality, Nylander & Kessel
Maybe This Is Where Nick Robertson Can Shine
Finally, a line of Robertson, Gaudette, and Aube-Kubel isn’t out of the question. See what Robertson can do. It’s his time to shine (or not). The team has to give him space to show what he can do and become.
There are many things to work out in training camp, a kid line for the team’s fourth line? How fun would that be?
Let them create an identity. I can even see the matching hoodies now. They’d sell well.
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