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Jake McCabe’s injury provides a path back into the Maple Leafs lineup for Fraser Minten

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Photo credit:Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Steitzer
8 months ago
It’s far too early in the season to be taking chances with injuries. The Leafs ended up losing Jake McCabe just 10 seconds into their game against Dallas and it remains to be seen if he will be available for Saturday night’s game in Nashville. Sheldon Keefe is waiting on a scan.
If Jake McCabe woke up this morning feeling good and the scan comes back negative, I guess the matter is closed. If there is any reason to keep McCabe out for a game that opens up the need to make a couple of shuffles in the Leafs lineup.
The first thing that would need to happen is Toronto would need to send Pontus Holmberg back to the Marlies or potentially the could assign Fraser Minten to the Kamloops Blazers. Toronto has held off doing that second one so far, so it seems unlikely they are going to go that route when it provides them with no option to recall Minten except on an emergency basis. Holmberg is the easier decision and that gives the Leafs enough cap space to recall one of Benoit, Lagesson, Lajoie, or Kokkonen.
The Leafs going with Minten back in the lineup also makes a lot of sense as it gives him an opportunity to show whether being with the Leafs for practices and watching games from the press box has benefited him in any way. If he’s at the same level as before, which honestly seems most likely, the Leafs could use that as a reason to send him back to junior and Toronto can recall Holmberg (or for that matter Robertson or McMann.)
As for the absence of McCabe on the blueline, Toronto looks like they could go the same route they went with Thursday night. Rather than bumping up Mark Giordano to the second pairing to have him play more with Timothy Liljegren, who he’s familiar with, the Leafs put Liljegren primarily with Rielly and had Brodie with Klingberg. Both of those experiments seemed to go well and having Giordano as a strong option remaining on the third pairing gives the Leafs some flexibility with who they recall as well. Simon Benoit seems like the favourite for this opportunity, but I’d say the versatility of someone like William Lagesson might be more appealing than a low maintenance stay at home defender.
We should get a better idea of what is happening fairly soon since the Marlies are playing tonight in Belleville and a decision will need to be made on if someone is needed in Nashville tomorrow night.

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