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An early prediction for the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 2023-24 opening night lineup

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Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Seney
8 months ago
The Toronto Maple Leafs open the 2023-24 season on October 11 against their rival Montreal Canadiens. It’s setting up to be another great way to kick off a new year, one in which could be a very successful season in Toronto.
The Leafs have made some major changes this summer, thanks to general manager Brad Treliving. He’s come in, rolled up his sleeves and went to work immediately. The additions of John Klingberg, Ryan Reaves, Max Domi and Tyler Bertuzzi will do wonders next season. There’s also a slew of returning players in Toronto, so you can bet your bottom dollar, the Maple Leafs are set up for success in 2023-24. Next season will be fun to watch, including from across the pond in Stockholm, Sweden in November.
While we know head coach Sheldon Keefe loves to tinker with his lineup, here’s how I could see the lineup shaping up opening night against the Habs.

Forwards

Tyler Bertuzzi, Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner
Matthew Knies, John Tavares, William Nylander
Nick Robertson, Max Domi, Calle Jarnkrok
Sam Lafferty, David Kampf, Ryan Reaves
Yes, Marner and Nylander will likely flip-flop throughout the season, but to me I’d start Bertuzzi with them who could essentially become a much more productive version of Michael Bunting. Knies will get his shot in the top six to start next season and alongside Tavares and Nylander, he could be in the running for the Calder Trophy.
Domi played his best last season as a centre and if Robertson can’t stay healthy or turn some heads again in the preseason and training camp, look for Bobby McMann to get a shot on the team’s third line. Keefe may also move Domi to the wing and Kampf up a line, which would then open a spot for Pontus Holmberg.
This is the deepest the forward group has been in years and Leafs Nation should be very excited for next season, regardless of how the forward lines shape up for opening night.

Defence

Morgan Rielly, Timothy Liljegren
Jake McCabe, John Klingberg
Mark Giordano, TJ Brodie
Connor Timmins
For now, this appears to be the group for the Maple Leafs blue line next season. Top defensive prospect Topi Niemela will be waiting in the wings down the street for the Marlies, but don’t expect to see him crack the opening night roster.
Liljegren continues to develop and he showed during the World Championships, he’s a lot more talented than he’s usually given credit for. Rielly took his game to new heights last season and with a consistent partner, could find some serious comfort, which should end up resulting in better production.
Klingberg should play with McCabe because he needs a physical stay-at-home type to compliment his game. Klingberg likes playing rover which involves regularly taking risks, which will be both fun to watch but also a roller coaster of emotions.
Giordano is one to watch here as there’s a chance he’s the odd man out next season. He’s not getting any younger, faster, or more productive, so there could be a tough conversation coming his way in October. Timmins on the other hand, he’ll need to prove he can limit his mistakes with and without the puck and he’ll need to show the coaching staff and Treliving he’s open to being more physical. Adding some nasty to his game could do him wonders for his future with the Maple Leafs.

Goalies

Ilya Samsonov
Joseph Woll
Fully expect to see Matt Murray bought out in the next 10 days as Samsonov is heading for arbitration later this month, which opens another window for the hockey club. Samsonov is ready to take over as the permanent starter next season. He’s taken Toronto by storm, he’s handled the media with ease and look for his numbers to be among the top of the league next season.
Woll will push for starts, there’s no doubt about that. On one of the best contracts in the league at just $766,667 (thanks Mr.Dubas) he’s the perfect back up for this team. He knows his role and he’s absolutely beloved by his teammates. After last summer, one in which several questions hovered over the Maple Leafs’ crease, it’s clear as day how things will work out. Toronto should feel very comfortable having Sammy and the Brick Woll leading the charge next season.
There we have it folks, a very early prediction for the Maple Leafs opening night lineup. Did you like what you see? See it playing out differently? Let us know in the comments section, we’d be happy to hear your prediction of how training camp is going to play out.

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