With a roster full of players that hope to sniff a couple games with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the team headed to Detroit to face a more complete Red Wings lineup. Of course they came away with a victory, it’s Detroit.
It required a shootout in the end – winner provided by Jeremy Bracco – but it became the Leafs’ fourth win of the pre-season, if that matters to you.
Let’s take a look at some thoughts from the seventh exhibition game.
1) Rasmus Sandin appears to be ready
With other young players or AHL veterans surrounding him, Sandin was able to shine beyond them and really stand out for being a dynamic defenceman.
His ability to appear beyond his years and seem like a big fish in a small depth-player pond might have just secured him a spot on this roster. Not even for when Travis Dermott is out with an injury, perhaps beyond that will remain in Toronto for the entire regular season.
Favourite play of the first period:
Rasmus Sandin steps up to disrupt play twice in the span of fifteen seconds. pic.twitter.com/5wc5zY9q49
— Nick DeSouza (@NickDeSouza_) September 28, 2019
Just those little plays and awareness to impact the game as a whole. His maturity has been discussed at length by Babcock and his teammates, but it still appears to shock everyone when this 19-year-old is able to appear so poised against top talent.
2) The Depth Players
In the penultimate game of the pre-season, the Leafs went with a lineup filled with depth players. Players trying to win the few remaining spots on the NHL squad.
Even if they were unable to make the 21 or so players that will be in the top division, this is an opportunity for players to pencil in their own name on the depth chart. If a player like Kevin Gaudet is able to impress Babcock with his ability to grind down the opposition, he could get a decent chance for a top-six role with the Marlies.
It’s all about keeping your name in the mind of Babcock and the front office through the season; becoming the one to rely on in case of injuries.
3) Timothy Liljegren will need some more time
Another young defenceman that hoped to make the same amount of impact that Sandin has in these exhibition cames is the 20-year-old Liljegren.
The right-handed blueliner has been unable to really shine like his counterpart has, but it’s still natural in all perspective. At his age, if a defeneman went the route of the CHL, they would just be entering their first season of professional hockey, while Liljegren his coming up on 100 AHL games played.
He’s still ahead of the normal development timeline and has been able to get some results when healthy. This will hopefully be his first injury-free season since being drafted by the Leafs back in 2017.
It’s not a knock on him, but it’s just to temper expectations for a young player in this Leafs system that isn’t an instant all-star before they’re able to drink in the United States.
4) Matt Read should stay with the organization
The forward is just on a PTO with the Leafs right now, but he has been able to certainly impress with a pure NHL goal during this game against the Red Wings.
🚨 GOAL 🚨
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) September 28, 2019
The 33-year-old might not have a lot left in him, but he certainly looks like a player that should be playing a high-level of hockey no matter what.
Since this is a Leafs blog, of course it would be helpful if Read was able to sign a top-dollar AHL deal and remain in Toronto with the Marlies. But in reality, this should give some other teams around the league notice.
Read would be an excellent addition to any NHL bottom-six, but the Leafs just have too much talent down in that third line and already several forwards fighting for a fourth-line role, that Read will be the odd man out.
Ideally, he is able to stay.
5) It’s Almost Over
We’re almost there. Just one more game in the pre-season before the real games begin against Ottawa on Oct. 2.
More importantly, we’re now officially done with these games full of AHL-destined players that will be placed on waivers or sent down.
Hockey is finally back.