Josh Leivo couldn’t finish off the hat-trick and James Reimer couldn’t finish off the shutout, but the Toronto Maple Leafs closed the book on the 2013 preseason with a 3-1 win over Detroit on Saturday night. It was mostly AHLers for either side, so the result matters even less, but Toronto had a pretty good performance and a few of the bubble players had strong games.
Leivo, especially, who opened the scoring and also scored the 3-0 goal midway through the third period, and Morgan Rielly made his case to begin his season on the roster, salary cap and roster size limits be damned! For trading block players, Joe Colborne had an assist on all three Toronto goals and John-Michael Liles had both a goal… and a costly giveaway leading to the Red Wings only marker. James Reimer stopped 24-of-25.
If Randy Carlyle wanted to get one good, long, last look at Rielly. he certainly played him enough. Rielly had a game-high 23:42 in time on ice, the only player on either side coming close being 2012 Team Canada World Junior teammate Xavier Ouellet on the Red Wings with 23:08. I don’t think I’ve vocally stated my opinion about Rielly yet, but I don’t think it’s worth sending Liles down to the minors just to get a few looks at Rielly. To be a worthwhile year to justify knocking off the last “slide year” on Rielly’s entry-level deal, Rielly will need to play in the Top 4, and the Leafs are doing pretty well in that department already with Dion Phaneuf, Carl Gunnarsson, Cody Franson and Jake Gardiner.
I’m very interested to see what happens with Liles. I think he’s a worthwhile, useful hockey player. If expensive, he’s worth more on the Leafs at $3.875-million than on the Toronto Marlies at $2.9-million.
Otherwise, this was generally a solid night for that first wave of players that are going to be called up to the Leafs. They handled a pretty good program in Detroit, out-shooting them 27-25 and generating the more dangerous chances in the early part of the game and it was scoreless until the 14:19 mark of the second because Petr Mrazek looked very sharp. See?
Troy Bodie looked dangerous offensively. He took a game-high 4 shots on net, there was Leivo, of course, and I thought David Broll looked good in the rare times I saw him. The thing I like about Leivo and Broll is that there’s some modicum of skill to go along with the fact that they’re big players. You can put those two on a powerplay and they won’t hilariously screw it up.
Same thing goes for the defence. Andrew MacWilliam looked strong, as did Stuart Percy. The defensive picture is a mess right now because there’s a top 4, and then about 6 players that could plausibly the 5 and 6 on the team.
Just in case you missed it, Nazem Kadri drew both Detroit penalties. That’s kind of a thing he’s good at.