Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Ottawa Senators
19.00 at Scotiabank Arena, SN1
Opponent’s Website: Silver Seven Sens
Ottawa must get as sick of us as we are of them. The Leafs beat them in two games so far, allowing only one goal against, they lost Colin White to a freak injury in a Leafs game, and they play the Leafs twice in earnest in the first week of the season, next Thursday and Saturday. For now, there’s another fake game to get through before all the rosters are cut down.
Senators took advantage of White’s damage for an opportunity to just clear the cap on the floor by signing Tyler Ennis to a $ 900,000 contract. They can make some changes to their large number of exempt players, but they can not cut below 23 plus White, not until they sign a deal with Brady Tkachuk. He has shown no willingness to commit the team in the long run at a price set now with a tight hood. Okay, tight for everyone else, not the senators, but it’s hard to blame him for wanting a bridge that could either lead to more money or another team.
This sets the Senators in motion to play tonight with something like their regular season list. Lines are not yet published.
The Leafs still have a small handful of extra players on the roster who can all play at the NHL level without bothering anyone. The choices they make are more about exactly who to place where on the periphery for now, with some options for several different calls.
It all goes without saying, of course, that Auston Matthews will be healthy enough to play on opening night. He is not playing in this match tonight, but he is expected to be ready by Wednesday.
Suppose someone, maybe Brooks, plays instead of Matthews:
The Leafs practiced with so many line combinations in their retreat to Gravenhurst this week that the configurations for tonight could be just about anything and could change in the game. The second line left wing spot is the only significant open roster, with a wealth of options for the bottom six – some bordering on the absurd, as Alexander Kerfoot as 4C.
They also played with a third defensive pair of Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren, which raised a lot of hope, and – presumably – that Travis Dermott was very determined to be in the games, not to watch the games. It looks like the very first roster we can see may have these seven defenders.
Can you make it to the roster on the last day of the pre-season? Probably not. However, you may be able to play your way away.
What’s really at stake in this game is not much more than 13 minutes of ice time instead of 11 for a few players. I have a very hard time believing that the 12 attackers that matter have not already agreed. All of this going on for two more minutes seems a bit absurd, but the money and security that comes with the two extra minutes over the next five years is significant. For a few players here, they compete for the coveted job of not playing at all. The nice feature of the NHL, where a seat in the press box is better than games in the AHL. It also pays better for many players. But will it be Travis Dermott to begin with? It may well be.
For one last time where it does not matter: Go Leafs Go!