We’ve finally come to the end of our What to expect this summer series. This final post will cover the remaining players we haven’t touched on, some of who still have the potential to find their way onto the Leafs expanded roster.
This series has also given us the opportunity to introduce you to a number of new TLN writers who have joined us over the past month. I’m equally excited about the lineup we’ve built here as the one the Leafs are icing, and I’m excited to show you want we can do in the Return to Play as well.
So without further adieu, here are the remaining players that could find their way onto the Leafs playoff roster…
Gaudet was probably the biggest surprise on the training camp invite list, and might be the biggest long shot to make the Leafs roster as well. A former Soo Greyhound under Dubas and Keefe, there is no doubt that his familiarity was an asset, as well as the fact that he is a strong defensive forward that provided the Leafs top six with a bit more of challenging opposition to face in battle drills and scrimmages.
On a team that lacks significant center depth, Gaudet could find his way into the one of the spots, but realistically he’s still behind Gauthier and Brooks in that regard as well. His size could also get him some consideration, but bringing Gaudet into the Leafs lineup would mean largely abandoning the approach they’ve taken with the lineup card all season.
Kaskisuo is likely a lock for making the Leafs roster as either the 3rd goaltender or if the Leafs want to give Woll a shot, Kaskisuo would be the fourth string guy.
The story with Woll and Kaskisuo is pretty much the same. If the Leafs are using them in games the team is already in a lot of trouble and it’s time to panic. That being said, having two extra goaltenders could be beneficial when it comes to morning skates and getting rest for Andersen and/or Campbell.
I think Woll would have the advantage over Kaskisuo in the event the Leafs are going with 3 goaltenders as there is a benefit to having a young goaltender around the team this summer, so Kaskisuo will likely be relying on a four goaltender scenario to make the team.
So Hollowell was invited to camp, then he wasn’t (in favour of Nic Petan), and then he returned (when Liljegren was unfit to play). Given that Hollowell was on the bubble for making the camp invite list, it’s safe to say that he’s not likely to find his way onto the playoff roster.
Getting a prospect like Hollowell a bit more time to spend playing hockey in the middle of a hiatus was a good idea, but I’m not sure there is any case that can be made for putting Hollowell on the roster ahead of the other defensemen invited.
Fresh off his contract extension we have Kivihalme. Is he going to play in a playoff game? Probably not. Is he going to make the Leafs roster? That’s a perfectly reasonable thing to assume at this point.
With the return of Liljegren uncertain, the Leafs probably want to have four reserve defenseman outside of the six dressed defensemen. Seemingly Sandin, Marincin, and Rosen will occupy the top three spots and Kivihalme will occupy the fourth.
Kivihalme had a strong season with the Marlies this year, and it would be nice to see him rewarded for that, but there is also a good chance the Leafs awarded him the contract at this time as a consolation prize to a roster spot. Kivihalme’s inexperience at the NHL might be working against him here as well.
Personally I’d love to see Korshkov crack the playoff roster, but I’m not sure I’ll hold my breath on that. Korshkov looked strong in his Leafs debut this season, he brings size and responsible play to the lineup and has the potential to exhibit elevated play not seen by some of the bottom of the roster players, including those who will be in the lineup. The thing that will hold Korshkov back is that he’s not a center, and with the limited space and the dominance of Nick Robertson, Korshkov might not get his shot yet.
Like some of the other young Leafs this has the potential to be a great experience for Korshkov, and considering that he’ll have a real shot at being on the roster in 2020-21, nothing will get him familiar with his new teammates quite like being trapped in a bubble with them for at minimum the next couple of weeks.
If the Leafs current wing depth wasn’t enough to hold Korshkov back, the potential return of Andreas Johnsson might be the deciding factor in keeping him out of the Leafs bubble. I’d still say it makes more sense to have him ahead of Gaudet and Petan.
With camps winding up and travel to the Hubs (in the Leafs case, checking into the hotel down the street) it’s likely we’ll have firm rosters to look at real soon. And math wise, with 34 players in camp, and 30 roster spots, it’s likely that one of these players will wind up in the bubble.