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Predicting the Maple Leafs’ Opening Game Starting Lineup

The Toronto Maple Leafs have brought in some new players. Where they fit when the opening game lineup is decided?

It’s way too early to prognosticate about the Toronto Maple Leafs opening-game roster and who might be on it. So much can happen during training camp to change things. However, with about a month of the offseason left before training camp begins, it’s tempting to look at the players who are currently with the team – both the newcomers and the incumbents – to speculate who might be on the opening game roster.

So, here goes.

Related: Auston Matthews Predicts Maple Leafs’ Stanley Cup Success

The Newcomers to the Maple Leafs

The Maple Leafs have brought in a host of new players with a number of regulars remaining, although some key players have moved on. Some questions remain. For example, who will fill in the gaping hole in the top-six that dogged winger Zach Hyman once filled with energy?

It seems that Maple Leafs’ general manager Kyle Dubas pinpointed two free-agent signings who just might do that. These players are Nick Ritchie from the Boston Bruins and Michael Bunting from the Arizona Coyotes. However, a current roster player – Alex Kerfoot – might be moved into the top-six as a winger.

Michael Bunting, new to the Maple Leafs

It seems that these two players – Ritchie and Bunting – have a solid chance to fight for and become the left-wing options on the Maple Leafs top-six. Last season’s surprise Alex Galchenyuk is nowhere to be seen, which likely means he won’t be back with the team. There are two holes to fill, but a number of possibilities to fill them.

As well, David Kampf from the Chicago Blackhawks was signed because of his defense and ability to win face-offs at either end of the ice. It seems that Dubas might be working toward what Sheldon Keefe noted last season as a need for the team, and that’s a shutdown third line.

In some ways, the Maple Leafs’ fourth line is the most solid. Here veterans Jason Spezza and probably Wayne Simmonds will get some solid time, with a center to be named later.

Predicting the Maple Leafs Line Combinations & Defensive Pairings

Forward Line Combinations (my best guesses at the moment)

Line #Left-WingerCenterRight-Winger
First LineNick RitchieAuston MatthesMitch Marner
Second LineAlex KerfootJohn TavaresWilliam Nylander
Third Line Michael BuntingDavid Kampf Ilya Mikheyev
Fourth Line Wayne Simmonds Adam BrooksJason Spezza 
13th Forward Pierre Engvall  

Mitch Marner Upper Deck Maple Leafs 2
Mitch Marner, Upper Deck Maple Leafs

Defensive Pairings

Defensive PairingsLeft-Side DefenseRight-Side Defense
First-PairingMorgan RiellyT.J. Brodie
Second-PairingJake MuzzinJustin Holl
Third-PairingRasmus SandinTravis Dermott
Extra DefensemanBrennan Menell 

Morgan Rielly, Maple Leafs Upper Deck Card

Things Might (Obviously) Change

Obviously, things might change if other players are moved or signed. As well, the philosophy of the team hasn’t been set yet – at least not in concrete. And, training camp might separate those who are doing well from those who are not. The point is that, for all the logical consideration one might make who follows the team, no one knows.

But, as of this point in time, these are the best predictions I can make about what the line-up might look like.

Related: What’s the Rank of Maple Leafs’ Left-Wingers: The Answer, Who Knows?



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  3. gfinale

    August 25, 2021 at 9:05 pm

    I think the forwards best guess is spot on if Kerfoot isn’t traded and I don’t think they can dare after his playoff performance on left wing. They must try him there for a while. Still, competition between Kerfoot and Bunting should be good for that 2nd top 6 left winger spot!

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