Good news for everyone who doesn’t see Martin Marincin as the long term solution to the blue line woes, help is on the way…
Morgan Rielly and Cody Ceci are on track to return at some point next week, according to Sheldon Keefe.
The #leafs also believe Ilya Mikheyev will play again this season, although his timeline is a little longer than Rielly and Ceci.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) March 2, 2020
Now, there are two very different elements to that improved defense. First, the return of Morgan Rielly brings in a veteran capable of playing top four minutes, albeit with some defensive deficiencies, but ultimately the Leafs are getting back a top pairing caliber defenseman next week, which is awesome.
The Leafs will also be getting back Cody Ceci, which is nice too, I think.
The Leafs have a tough schedule next week, with Tampa on Tuesday, Nashville on Thursday, and Boston on Saturday. None of those are easy games, but let’s face it, Tampa and Nashville haunt our dreams, so help there is what we need the most, and if the Leafs don’t have the warm bodies for Tampa, it seems like they should be ready for Boston.
With that announcement comes the thought of who is going to get sent down, and given the lack of usage of Timothy Liljegren, we have to suspect that he might be the first to go, or depending on the nature of Calle Rosen’s callup, he might be the second to go, but those are presumably the players we’ll see demoted in the next week.
While I’m all for complaining about the potential demotion of Timothy Liljegren, especially if he’s being demoted in favour of bringing Ceci into the lineup, the fact of the matter is Keefe isn’t playing him, and he’s going to want defensemen who can eat minutes at the NHL level. At the very least, Cody Ceci gets put on the ice a lot.
Campbell starts vs San Jose, Sandin to sit tomorrow night, Ceci and Rielly likely on a day to day basis when the club gets home next week. #leafsforever
— Paul Hendrick (@HennyTweets) March 2, 2020
We’ll at least get to see Liljegren tomorrow night as he draws in for Sandin, and it looks like Campbell will make his return as well.
In addition to that news is the possibility of seeing Ilya Mikheyev again before the regular season ends. Mikheyev getting a few games in before the playoffs is definitely a positive for the Leafs, and gets the team inching its way back to perceived depth we thought this team had before the season began.
First a three game winning streak and now injured players returning after a very winnable California road trip. My fingers are crossed that March will be much nicer to the Leafs.