Maple Leafs are wise to start Fraser Minten in the NHL
Photo credit:Steven Ellis/The Leafs Nation
By Shane Seney1 month ago
The NHL’s preseason means absolutely nothing to most people, but don’t tell that to Toronto Maple Leafs rookie Fraser Minten. After being what many considered a long shot to make the Leafs this season, Minten has done nothing but impress since day one of camp and now he’s managed to make the opening night lineup.
Based on the practice lines on Oct.9, here’s how the opening night lineup should shape up:
Kudos to head coach Sheldon Keefe and general manager Brad Treliving for giving the kid a chance. Too many times throughout all the major sports do you see organizations hold back young talent just because of age. When certain players are mature beyond their years, it’s important to break barriers and the ‘old way of doing things’ and be open-minded enough to give a player a shot. Minten’s got his shot, now it’s time to get to work.
The former second-round pick has all the tools. He’s 6-foot-2, strong on the puck and in the faceoff dot, and he’s extremely responsible on the defensive side of the puck and doesn’t take many risks. This is huge to win the trust of the organization, and more specifically the coaching staff. Limit the risks and timely mistakes and things could go very well for Minten in his rookie year.
Offensively, the game is further along than many people think. Minten’s never been one to light up a score sheet, however with Matthew Knies and 20-goal scorer Calle Jarnkrok on his line, the trio will chip in offensively more than people think. Yes, it’s going to be defence first as the top two lines should be carrying the load up front, but don’t assume the third line is going to be limited to a shut-down line. There’s some offense in there, and Knies and Jarnkrok are going to benefit a tremendous amount from having such a smart centre down the middle of the line.
Toronto can play Minten for a few weeks before burning a year on his entry-level deal so the first nine games or so are going to be critical. Time will tell, but if he proves that he belongs, he could stick around the entire season and start his NHL career off as a teenager. He doesn’t turn 20 until next July.
After years where the likes of Nick Robertson or Pontus Holmberg have been sent down to start the season, it’s a refreshing sight to see the Maple Leafs playing a couple of rookies together and in a big spot. It’s not like they are going to be buried on the team’s fourth line, Minten and Knies will play. This should be music to the ears of Leafs Nation as the new wave of talent, including Easton Cowan sometime in the near future, may play a part in pushing the Leafs up to the top of the mountain.
The Maple Leafs are playing their cards right here. Treliving cleared out Sam Lafferty and his salary off the books, and now there’s enough money to go around and spots to be taken for Minten to get a legit chance at being an NHL regular. There’s been so many times where it’s gone the opposite way for a top prospect and this time around the Leafs got it right.
Get your popcorn ready. #39 on the Maple Leafs is a player you should be telling your kids to watch. Minten plays the game the right way and does all the little things on the ice that go a long way in the wins column.
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