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3 Maple Leafs in tough to make the opening night lineup

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Photo credit:(Photo from Steven Ellis/Daily Faceoff)
Shane Seney
7 months ago
The NHL’s preseason schedule is roughly halfway through and teams across the league are starting to trim down rosters. The Toronto Maple Leafs are no different as they’ve basically split their team up into two practice groups while they continue to give an assortment of players a look via game action.
While there’s a number of Leafs who are locks to make the 2023-24 opening night roster, here’s three Leafs who are on the brink and in tough to make the team out of training camp:

Nick Robertson

At 5-foot-9 and roughly 180 pounds, Robertson is not suited for a checking line and needs to be put into an offensive role to make an impact for the Leafs. Unfortunately for Robertson, at this point through training camp and the preseason, his finishing touch has not been on display.
The former second-round pick was rather candid during the start of camp, admitting – “I don’t give a f___ that my name isn’t what it once was”. Robertson noted he believes and that’s really all that matters. As the preseason has gone on, has he done enough to make Brad Treliving and the coaching staff believers?
The injuries have piled up throughout the years but Robertson is as healthy as he’s ever been. Throughout the game action you can see his foot speed is elite, his shot is right up there with Auston Matthews, but he needs to light the lamp, gain some confidence and play with the puck. Robertson’s in the final year of his entry level contract and considering Treliving didn’t draft him, there’s a ton of pressure to perform this season to secure a new deal. As I’ve said before, it’s make-or-break territory for the 22-year-old.
Matthew Knies looks amazing so far and that doesn’t help Robertson’s case. He’s also lucky Easton Cowan is only 18 years old and headed back to the OHL, or that could have been a horrible game of leap frog on the depth chart.
With five preseason games left at this point, it’s up to Robertson to hit the score sheet and show off some more of his bag of tricks. We all know there’s a bunch of skill and speed in there, it’s the results that are lacking.

Martin Jones

So far through training camp it’s been noted that Jones has struggled to keep the puck out. During game action, it’s been a bit of a different story as he looked solid against the Buffalo Sabres, however his performance was nothing to write home about.
Jones is on a one-way contract and will have to clear waivers to make the Maple Leafs’ opening night roster. While he hasn’t stood on his head at any point throughout his game action, cause really he hasn’t had to, Jones has looked quiet in net and his rebound control has been there.
Not making the opening night roster has a little bit to do with Jones’ performance so far at training camp, but also a lot to do with the fact Joseph Woll should not and very likely will not be going through waivers before the season starts. Woll is eight years younger than the veteran Jones and is someone the organization values tremendously.
Jones was brought in as a security blanket as Treliving wanted to sign another veteran for some internal competition and in case an injury took place in camp. He could very well be the final cut and the team is going to try their luck trying to sneak Jones through waivers before the puck drops on opening night.

Pontus Holmberg

Holmberg, like Robertson is waivers exempt and can be sent down to the AHL at will. While he has played well, showed off some speed and skill and is always hard on the puck defensively, Noah Gregor continues to be a stud at camp and in preseason action and Gregor has leap frogged Holmberg on the depth chart.
When William Nylander was announced as a centre to start the season, the first person I thought of was Holmberg. Because Nylander is down the middle, Holmberg’s slid down the depth chart even further and now essentially out of the picture.
He can play some wing but again, Gregor isn’t going anywhere and has solidified a role on this Maple Leafs team, at least to start the season. Calle Jarnkrok’s injury status certainly plays into things regarding the final cuts, as Robertson would likely be the replacement, meanwhile Holmberg would need someone like David Kampf to be unavailable to see game action the second week of October.
The former sixth-round pick is in very tough to crack the lineup and at this point, basically needs a mini-miracle.
There we have it folks, three Maple Leafs who are still pushing to make the opening night lineup. There’s still some preseason action to go, but as we know, the Leafs like to get their ‘main’ group together for at least a game or two before the season starts to continue building chemistry with their linemates. Robertson, Jones and Holmberg are in tough to break camp.

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