There’s good news for Toronto Maple Leafs fans as both Joe Thornton and Nick Robertson were skating with the team this week and could be back sometime next week. Robertson could return as early as next Wednesday, while Thornton could be back as early as this weekend.
While this is a great bit of positive news for a Leafs team speculated to be in the market for another forward, it’s hard not to wonder exactly where either player fits. After all, the Maple Leafs are on a roll, having won four games in a row and are leading the North Division.
James Mirtle of The Athletic writes, “Joe Thornton and Nick Robertson are getting close to a comeback here, after early injuries sidelined them after five games and one game, respectively.” He adds, “The Leafs could use a bit more scoring punch, given how cold players like Jimmy Vesey and Ilya Mikheyev are right now.”
So, does that mean both players will slot right in where Vesey and Mikheyev have been playing and the Leafs will try to bolster their somewhat struggling bottom six? Or, does Thornton get another look on the top line? That’s where he was playing when he was forced to leave the lineup with an injury.
The Maple Leafs Options
Mirtle points that out that Robertson on the third line (if sheltered properly) makes a lot of sense. He also argues that putting Thornton back at his natural position of center makes sense too. That takes both players out of consideration for the top two lines.
On the other hand, moving current players down to the bottom six could help too and one of the comments on the post suggested the Maple Leafs would look even better if they could get their second line going. They suggested John Tavares and William Nylander have had a rotation of wingers that haven’t quite moved the needle, even if both players have a decent amount of points.
Where would you slot these players, if and when they’re ready to return?
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