Holmberg up/Lajoie down: Maple Leafs pave the way for a healthy scratching a forward

Photo credit:(Photo by Steven Ellis/The Leafs Nation)
Jon Steitzer
3 months ago
I’m not sure that you can look at recalling Pontus Holmberg and saying the Leafs are close to fixing what ails them. That said, in my post earlier this morning, the exact move that the Leafs have made paves the way for what we can hope to see as far as lineup changes.
First, here’s the official announcement:
With Jake McCabe likely returning to the Leafs lineup and Sheldon Keefe leaning more on William Lagesson and Simon Benoit at this point, returning Max Lajoie to the Marlies makes a ton of sense. It gets him playing again and by getting him off the Leafs roster as soon as possible, the Leafs hold onto a greater number of days Lajoie can be in the Leafs roster in the future without again requiring waivers.
As for the Holmberg recall, bringing Pontus back also makes a lot of sense. While I know there are a number of people who want to get Alex Steeves into the Leafs lineup to see what he can do, Toronto doesn’t have the cap space for him unless the Leafs demoted another player as well. It was going to be one of Holmberg, McMann, or Gambrell, and Holmberg is certainly the one the Leafs have leaned on the most as their 13th forward and the one (partially because of nationality) that it makes sense to take on their Swedish trip coming up shortly.
The return of Holmberg to the lineup gives the Leafs 13th forwards for the first time this season and as such gives Toronto the luxury to sit someone in the pressbox. The assumption here is that it will likely be Ryan Reaves, although Holmberg as a centre doesn’t eliminate the possibility that it could be David Kampf scratched. Let’s not kid ourselves, the signs point to Reaves being a scratch and that would give Kampf the opportunity to play on a more defensively capable fourth line with Holmberg and Gregor, something that could help turn his season around and give something a line that offers up a bit more in regards to team defence. Potentially the Kampf line could be defensive zone option and Domi’s line the offensive zone one, with both playing similar minutes based on situations.
If Jake McCabe is healthy enough to play, the Leafs will also have 7 healthy defencemen and this gives the team some flexibility about who plays there as well. And again this is likely an ideal roster situation for heading over to Europe as injury recalls from the Marlies would be a bit more of a logistical challenge.
We’ll have a better idea of what Sheldon Keefe is playing for his new roster once the Leafs hit the ice for practice.

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