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It doesn’t matter where the Leafs deploy Matthew Knies to start the season

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Photo credit:Steven Ellis/The Leafs Nation
Nick Alberga
6 months ago
Faulty game stream or not, there’s nothing like a prospects tournament to get the blood flowing for another year of Maple Leafs hockey.
I won’t lie, this year’s tournament is hitting a bit different. And honestly, I think it’s because of Matthew Knies’ attendance in Traverse City.
The sample size this past spring may have been small, but there’s no doubt the 20-year-old made a significant impact. After tallying one helper in three regular season outings, the NCAA standout notched one goal and four points in seven postseason contests before his season ended prematurely due to a concussion.
All this got me thinking: Where’s the right spot in the lineup for Knies to start? Is there a right spot?
Well, if you recall, Sheldon Keefe eased the 2021 second rounder into the lineup upon his arrival to the NHL. By the end, he was a mainstay with the big boys in the top-six. Most importantly, he did not look out of place. In fact, incredibly, Knies was consistently one of Toronto’s best forwards in his final few outings of the season.
Potential. So much potential.
Moving forward to the 2023-24 campaign, the Leafs suddenly have a bit more depth on the wing in the form of Tyler Bertuzzi and Max Domi. And quite frankly, that’s a good thing for Knies’ progression. Once again, the Leafs can ease him into things instead of going full bore with his deployment. Ultimately, at least to start, I think it’s likely he starts in a tertiary role. It’s the right play, too. I mean, it’s easy to forget he’s played just 10 games in the NHL. 10 games.
Any way you slice it, Matthew Knies has a bright future. That said, despite what we’ve seen from him at the pro level thus far, it’s important for Toronto to exercise patience. He’s just a kid. There will be turbulence. And that’s okay.
Be quick, but don’t hurry.

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