Kampf battling an illness, Timmins recovered from mono, and Samsonov projected to start: Leafs Practice Notes

Photo credit:Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Mazzei
1 month ago
After a soul-crushing loss to the Bruins, the Leafs hit the ice for practice but with one notable absence:
Sheldon Keefe told reporters that David Kampf’s illness leaves his status for tomorrow’s game against the Sabres up in the air. It appears the Leafs are prioritizing him being available for the rematch on Thursday against the Bruins, but that is assuming he needs that extra day of rest. Either way, Toronto will likely be facing Buffalo without their fourth-line centre available as it currently stands.
You can expect to see Pontus Holmberg slide to the middle in the interim to fill the void left behind. He has certainly played well enough to stay in the lineup, but you can imagine this allows the coaching staff an opportunity to see him take more reps as a centre to determine Holmberg’s long-term trajectory outside of the wings.
Conor Timmins’ bout with mono has seemingly come to an end as he participated in practice with the main group for the first time since his diagnosis on February 14th. He told the media after practice that he was feeling 100% and that doctors had to monitor his spleen for a related symptom, so it appears he could soon be back in the fold in the coming days.
Granted, his practice was not long as this was his first in a contact jersey since being diagnosed with the illness less than a month ago. Given that this is a disease that typically requires months to recover, Timmins has not been given the green light to be removed from LTIR and Keefe emphasized the importance of giving the defender a few more practices before clearing him to return. Still, the Leafs are definitely pleased to soon have another option on the backend available again if needed.
An interesting thing to note about the lines is that today marked Ilya Lyubishkin’s first full practice with the Leafs since being reacquired last week. That’s because the Leafs opted to limit practices over the past few days due to the quick turnaround between games during this homestand and try to prevent fatigue. The circumstances surrounding Lyubushkin made the need for him to get into practice not as high since he is already familiar with most of the group, but having this one under his belt certainly helps get him reacquainted.
He was spotted having a lengthy chat with Ilya Samsonov at the end of practice which no doubt goes a long way in making sure both players feel more comfortable since English is not their first language. On the subject of Samsonov, he appears to be the projected starter for the game against Buffalo which suggests Joseph Woll will get the nod in Thursday’s tilt with Boston.
The Leafs will wrap up their five-game home-stand when they take on the Sabres tomorrow night, where you can catch the action on Sportsnet at 7 p.m. EST.

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