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Gardiner practicing more, Dermott taking contact, Rosen to be recalled

They might seem relatively minor, but there are plenty of updates to pass along regarding the Leafs’ lineup as it hopefully shapes into form before the playoffs.

With 16 days until the postseason gets rolling, it looks as though this roster could get up to three substantial boosts with defencemen coming back off injury, as there have been positive signs for all of Travis Dermott, Jake Gardiner, and the Marlies’ Calle Rosen. The latter had been dealing with a foot injury but has returned to Toronto’s AHL lineup, and as Babcock noted this morning, is on the fast track to finally join the Leafs in the coming days, having taken a monster step in the minors this year to the tune of 45 points in 53 points from the back end.

For the two bigger names, things have definitely moved in the right direction. Dermott, previously taking practice with a red non-contact jersey, has swapped that out to take part in regular practice and absorb hits. His return is likely only days away now. And perhaps most importantly, Gardiner has practiced in each of the past two days, today wearing a red jersey at the Leafs’ optional skate, maybe an indicator he’s set to get back to practicing with the rest of the team very soon.

It goes without saying that getting all three of these guys into the lineup before Toronto opens up against Boston a couple weeks from now would significantly improve their chances of tipping a series in their favour. And if we’re playing armchair coach, an ideal pairing rundown of Rielly-Muzzin, Gardiner-Dermott, Rosen-Hainsey would be a dream, though in reality things will likely shake out as Rielly-Hainsey, Gardiner-Dermott, Muzzin-Zaitsev with Rosen as an extra. Either way, it looks like the Leafs’ blueline is going to have a much stronger look over the next two weeks or so.