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Photo Credit: © Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Notes from Kyle Dubas’ media availability

After the team announced their initial training camp roster earlier in the day, Leafs GM Kyle Dubas spoke to the media on Sunday afternoon and there was plenty to talk about leading into the opening of training camps tomorrow.

First of all, let’s get this one out of the way:

We all know why Dubas had to mention Matthews specifically and that’s all I’m going to say about that. Nevertheless, it’s encouraging to know that the Leafs will have their best player on the ice with the rest of his teammates when camp begins.

The Leafs are bringing 19 forwards, 11 defencemen and 4 goaltenders to camp as part of phase 3. At least 3 players will have to be sent home at the conclusion of camp, perhaps more if…

After undergoing knee surgery in the middle of February, Andreas Johnsson was scheduled to be out for approximately 6 months. There hasn’t been much news on his recovery up until now, but the original timeline would have had him ready to begin skating sometime in August. If the Leafs feel he’s healthy enough to warrant a roster spot before they enter the bubble of phase 4, they’ll have to trim another name from the roster they announced this morning.

While any player who decides to opt out of the NHL’s Return to Play shouldn’t have to justify or defend their decision for anybody, it’s obviously good news that, as of now, Dubas hasn’t been informed of any Leafs players who are planning to do so.

Aside from Johnsson, it looks as though the Leafs will have their entire roster at their disposal for phase 3. That wasn’t the case for most of 2019-2020 as the Leafs were forced to use 11 different defencemen over the course of the season. A fully healthy blue line could be a difference maker against a hard forechecking, physical Columbus team.

Robertson isn’t being brought to camp simply as some kind of reward for his outstanding junior season. The Leafs feel that he can contribute to their success right now and he’s going to be given every opportunity to earn a spot in their lineup when play resumes. I say he does it.

What else would you expect a GM to say? The Leafs are very clearly in “win now” mode and making some noise in these playoffs could be very important in the overall growth and development of this Leafs core.

You can put your hypothetical Nylander and Marner trade offers on the back burner. It’s no secret that the Leafs are going to be tight against the salary cap as it remains flat going into next season but it seems as though they’ll look to navigate that without moving on from any of their big ticket players. I wouldn’t go purchasing any new Johnsson, Kerfoot or Kapanen jerseys just yet, though.

Not surprising but noteworthy all the same. This is going to be a grind like nothing these players and coaches have seen before and if things go the Leafs’ way, they could all be away from their families for several weeks. It doesn’t matter who you are or how much money you make, that is no small sacrifice.

After months without anything to satisfy our appetite for hockey, there should be no shortage of things to discuss in the days and weeks ahead. I hope you’re hungry.