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Takeaways from the Day 1 Line Rushes

Amazing how a pandemic can turn something like line rushes from an insanely boring, mundane thing into the only thing anybody talks about today. But that’s what happens when hockey fans go more than four months without hockey.

The Leafs kicked off their training camp today, and of course had line rushes to give us something to talk about.

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So, I figured I’d quickly dive into the key takeaways from these rushes, based on what we knew previously. It should be noted that these are just the first day, so nothing is anything close to final, I’m just reacting for the sake of reacting.

Nylander is with Matthews, Marner is with Tavares

This shouldn’t truly be a surprise if you think about it, as these were the Leafs duos for their last game of the season against Tampa, but I can see why you might forget that because that was the first (and only) game that Keefe made that change. Personally, I like Nylander with Tavares and Marner with Matthews, because Marner’s only skill is with playmaking, which works well with Matthews goal scoring, while Nylander and Tavares both excel at passing and shooting, so they can compliment each other regardless, but these duos have also worked together in the past, so no complaints here.

Mikheyev is on the second line

In the first action of any type for Mikheyev since his injury on December 27, Mikheyev impressed in his 39 game rookie season, but it was so long ago that no one really knew where he’d slot in the lineup. Johnsson’s injury makes it a bit easier, but currently Mikheyev is slotted on the second line with Tavares and Marner. Unless Nick Robertson really impresses Keefe in camp, Mikheyev is probably the best option for the Leafs there.

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Lots of options for the Leafs fourth line

Considering that more than half the forwards in this camp are all vying for spots on the fourth line, the Leafs probably won’t have to worry about depth up front. While the Clifford-Spezza-Gauthier line is probably the front-runner right now, there are other players on other lines that I could see cracking the fourth line, like Petan, Malgin, Robertson, or Korshkov.

Rielly-Ceci is a thing again…

At the very least, it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be a shutdown pair thing like with Babcock, so I can handle that. Muzzin and Holl are reunited so they’ll probably be the shutdown pair, which leaves either Rielly-Ceci or Dermott-Barrie to round out the top four. I’d probably pick Dermott-Barrie out of the two just because I probably trust that pairing a bit more, but then again, I’d rather it another way…

Sandin and Marincin are on the outside looking in

It’s obviously a bit early to jump to conclusions, but the Sandin and Marincin pairing looks like the safest bet for the press box, considering that the other three pairings either have Muzzin, Rielly, or Barrie/Dermott on them. They have plenty of time to impress, but for now, it seems like they both aren’t cracking the lineup.

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If you wanted my ideal lines, I’d probably go:

Hyman – Matthews – Marner

Mikheyev – Tavares – Nylander

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Robertson – Kerfoot – Kapanen

Engvall – Spezza – Clifford

Muzzin – Holl

Rielly – Dermott

Sandin – Barrie

But that’s just me. There’s still plenty of time for Keefe to get stuff figured out though, so it should be interesting to see what happens.