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Final preseason game is final audition for some Leafs hopefuls: Leafs Game Day

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Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Dylan Murphy
1 month ago
Happy last day of preseason everybody!
The annual slog of meaningless games before the real fun begins finally comes to an end tonight. Against the Detroit Red Wings, the Leafs will be icing a team that’s pretty similar to what most now expect will be their everyday roster (at least until John Tavares and Timothy Liljegren return from their respective injuries.) Arguably, only Denis Malgin and Adam Gaudette are questionable to make the final roster, so view tonight as their respective final opportunities to win a spot in the forward lines out of camp.
Notably, preseason points leader, NIck Robertson, will be sitting tonight, getting some well-deserved rest after appearing in five of the team’s six games so far. The only way at this point Robertson is not a part of the opening night roster is if the team has to place him in the AHL to be cap-compliant.
One story to watch is William Nylander taking reps at centre. The last time he played a regular shift at centre was in Game 5 in the 2020 playoff bubble against Columbus, but he’s been practicing at the position all week, so it seems as though Sheldon Keefe has identified him as the player he’d most prefer fill in at centre until Tavares is ready to go.

Lineups

Murray gets the start in tonight’s final preseason tilt. Barring any more injuries, the addition of Robertson and the decision between Gaudette and Malgin, this is the opening night Toronto Maple Leafs roster.
On the other side of the coin, the Detroit lineup tonight… yeah, that’s a lineup alright. Of all the lineups that have ever existed, this is certainly one of them.

Players to Watch

As alluded to above, William Nylander at centre is my main player to watch, as are his linemates who are battling for the final open spot in the lineup. Additionally, Rasmus Sandin gets his first taste of playing with Mark Giordano, who will likely be his partner to start the year. Finally, the potentially cursed pairing of Muzzin and Holl will be reunited for the first time in a while. We’ll see how it goes but faith in Holl is, justifiably so, at an all-time low. With the incoming cap crunch, his name is high on the list of trade candidates, so there is added pressure on him to perform.
On the Red Wings, Jakub Vrana is far and away the most notable player on their roster sheet for tonight. During last night’s name, he looked dangerous and will definitely be a player to look out for.
Puck drop is at 7 pm ET and the game will be broadcast on TSN4.

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