It’s the fifth game of the preseason and the Toronto Maple Leafs — made up of essentially players that are going to be playing as Marlies this season — are in Montreal. Surprisingly, Toronto was able to win 3-0 and Michael Hutchinson earned the shutout.
It never gets old. Making the Canadiens look like complete fools in their own building, coming at the hands of old AHL veterans that are trying to earn an NHL roster spot.
Nic Petan was able to net two assists and the Russian Stud Egor Korshkov was able to score a couple of goals to lead their team to the win.
What exactly was memorable from this game? Well let’s find out:
1) Nic Petan, the Small God
Petan might have been thrown into the roster as part of the preseason rule that requires a certain number of players with NHL experience, but he was able to put on a show as the key forward against Montreal tonight.
By this game alone, he should earn a depth forward position to start the regular season. It was one of those games where you just sensed the player was everywhere on the ice for the full 60 minutes.
Cliches aside, Petan was able to make a smart assist on the powerplay to get Egor Koshkov to score a goal.
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) September 24, 2019
If Petan carves himself out a nice role on the bottom two lines and on the second powerplay unit, he could be an extremely useful player for under $1-million worth of cap space until 2021. Gotta love it.
2) The Opposition
Just take a moment and reflect how a team filled with future Marlies was able to beat a Canadiens team that featured their full-time top line and their best defenceman. It’s only one game of course, but to be in front of your home crowd and get shutout by Michael Hutchinson is just a treat.
The Canadiens were held to just 0.88 expected goals through 40 minutes, a painfully low number for a usual game. Especially considering who was on the other end of the ice.
3) Schmaltz and Harpur
Jordan Schmaltz and Ben Harpur are both that kind of defencemen you like to make fun of other teams for employing. Kris Russell, Karl Alzner, etc. It’s becoming more obvious that these two are just not ready — or will never be ready — to be on a team that hopes to contend.
There’s no massive risk, like having them play in the top-four, but just having them out there on the bottom pairing or during a penalty kill, could be extremely hurtful for the Leafs if they hope to win the division.
It’s not the biggest thing to worry about, but all of those small negative impact players that can bring down a portion of a team with them. Not the end of the world, but those 12-15 minutes could be unwatchable.
4) Matt Read and Having Too Much Depth
At 33-years-old, Matt Read is making a last-ditch effort to play in the NHL with a PTO on the Leafs. He has played really well, but there might just not be enough space on the final roster for an aging winger that hasn’t played more than 20 games in a season since 2017.
It’s unfortunate, but the reality for where this team is right now. If this was a few years ago, Read would be welcomed with open arms for the production he could bring and potential second wave to his NHL career. But now, this is more a spotlight for either a position on another NHL team or potentially as a well-paid AHL forward.
An embarrassment of riches when it comes to depth forwards could force Read to choose another team to crack.
5) Okay, So What Now?
With only three games remaining and one having the lineup already announced as one full with NHL players, this victory might be the final game with a majority of Marlies-bound skaters. As the Leafs start to finalize their lineup, cuts will be announced and players will go on waivers.
It’s an exciting time in the world of hockey, but nothing truly beats worrying about a player going on waivers to then go completely unclaimed. The rush. The adrenaline.