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Will the 3rd time be a charm for Nic Petan?

Nic Petan has been a bit of a yo-yo this season. He’s been waived twice, and now recalled three times from the Marlies…

The past few recalls have resulted in some press box sitting, some depth roles, and one glorious game of playing with Tavares and Marner, that unfortunately didn’t spark the glorious beginning of the offensive era of Nic Petan.

Alas, things can be different this go around. Petan’s recall is a result of the Mitch Marner’s four week, at minimum, absence. An absence that creates a hole in the top nine forward group, and potentially creating a chance for Petan to play with regular linemates in offensive situations.

That might be complicated slightly be the return of Zach Hyman, which could push Petan into a platooning situation with Jason Spezza, but the optimist in me wants to believe the Leafs are going to do everything in their power to make Petan a regular.

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So what does that look like?

Well, let’s assume that the Matthews line goes untouched in this, although I certainly think a case can be made for Johnsson being demoted down in the lineup.

Is it possible that Petan could be the direct replacement for Mitch Marner? Could we see a Hyman-Tavares-Petan line in the near future?

I float this idea largely on Tavares’ history of elevating his linemates, and wonder if Petan could be a potential pump and dump candidate for the Leafs in the near future. In reality, the RW role probably will go to Kapanen, but seeing him replaced by Kerfoot last game probably leads to the conclusion that Kapanen isn’t the fit, and it’s also debatable that the Leafs want to move away from Kerfoot as their 3C. That could be the opening for Petan or Spezza.

Let’s say Babcock really wants to make Kapanen work, well, That opens the door to a Mikheyev-Kerfoot-Petan line, which doesn’t seem horrible, but didn’t really deliver much in the preseason when they were together. There’s also the matter of whether or not the Leafs want to bump Trevor Moore out of the top nine when Hyman returns. A couple of weeks ago the answer would have been a resounding no, but he’s now 11 games without a point, 13 games removed from his last goal, and 16 games removed from his last goal that wasn’t into an empty net. Putting Moore on the 4th line isn’t the issue it once was and a Timashov-(Shore/Spezza/Gauthier)-Moore line doesn’t seem too bad.

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Which brings us to the last option? Is it best for Petan go on the 4th line, and enjoy the minimal expectations that come with that?

Petan playing with any combination of Moore, Timashov, Spezza, Shore, or Gauthier seems to make a lot of sense as well and we quickly find ourselves back in the preseason where the Leafs are without Marner and the fourth line is the biggest competition on the Leafs. Petan looked good during that competition. So did Timashov and Moore, and both of those players could use a boost in their game as well.

After back to backs on the weekend it seems the Leafs are getting back to it today, and with it may come a few answers. Tomorrow night’s game against the streaking Islanders should be a good test of what life without Marner will be like and how Petan will fit in to the Leafs going forward.

Initially it looks like this is what we’ll see and Timashov and Spezza will be the odd men out. Nothing too earth shattering and perhaps that is the right way to start. Also it’s worth mentioning that it looks like Hyman will return is pretty much a given based on the lines.