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Some Big Roster Battles Brewing at Maple Leafs Training Camp

There are some key spots open on the Toronto Maple Leafs roster this season and battles brewing in camp to earn those spots.

Every team will have players battling for roster spots at NHL camps this season. With only a few days left to the start of the season and camps being the one place where players can make their mark if they hope to do more than be assigned to a team’s taxi squad, there are sure to be some interesting storylines coming out of certain organization’s camps the next 10 days.

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The Toronto Maple Leafs are no different as Jonas Siegel of The Athletic took a closer look at some of the bigger battles surfacing from Leafs camp. He writes, “A whole new batch of players has been added, mostly around the edges (with T.J. Brodie the obvious exception), which means a hearty and hurried competition is coming.”

So, what are the key battles?

One More Leafs Top-Six Forward

First, Siegel writes that there’s one spot open for a top-six winger role. With five of the six spots allocated to Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, Zach Hyman, William Nylander and John Tavares, the contenders for final spot boil down to Alex Kerfoot, Ilya Mikheyev, Jimmy Vesey, Joe Thornton. He notes Kerfoot is the favorite and Thornton is a dark horse.

Siegel points out that the Leafs’ third-most-used line last season featured Kerfoot, Tavares and Nylander. And it was highly effective. With Thornton now possibly pegged to be the third-line center, Kerfoot can stay on the wing.

Alex Kerfoot Maple Leafs
Alex Kerfoot Maple Leafs

Two Spots on the Blue Line

Second, Siegel writes that there are two open slots to fill the bottom-pair of the Leafs blue line. The contenders are Travis Dermott, Mikko Lehtonen, Zach Bogosian, and Rasmus Sandin. Bogosian and Dermott are the favorites with Sandin listed as the dark horse.

As for why Lehtonen is not in the mix, Siegel writes:

Keefe is going to need to assess how Lehtonen adjusts to the speed and physicality of training camp as a means of determining whether he can contribute right away. Having no preseason games hurts in the evaluation of guys like him. The 26-year-old (he’ll turn 27 early in camp) will have to look the part in scrimmages especially. 

Travis Dermott Maple Leafs

A Few Other Battles

Siegel also notes that there will be a battle for one open third-line left wing spot. The contenders are Jimmy Vesey, Wayne Simmonds, and Nick Robertson.

As for a fourth-line forward, all three spots are still up for grabs. Those that don’t make the cut on the third line will be considered as will others fighting for jobs on the main roster. That means the contenders are Robertson, Vesey, Pierre Engvall, Simmonds, Jason Spezza, Alexander Barabanov, Travis Boyd, and Joey Anderson. The favorites are Spezza, Simmonds, Barabanov.

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