Toronto Maple Leafs: 2017-18 Preview: Looking at the forwards

TORONTO, CANADA - OCTOBER 02: Auston Matthews
TORONTO, CANADA - OCTOBER 02: Auston Matthews /
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Nazem Kadri
TORONTO, ON – DECEMBER 17: Nick Bonino /

Second line: Patrick Marleau/Nazem Kadri/Leo Komarov

It is tough to know for sure who the Leafs second line is because some will say it is Marner, van Riemsdyk, and Bozak and others will argue that it is the shutdown line lead by Kadri. Regardless, this line will be one that Babcock leans on against opposing top lines.

Marleau did not wait long to get on the board scoring in his first game against the Ottawa Senators in the preseason. While this line will not be relied on to produce as much offensively, there is enough firepower to be effective. However, Babcock was not impressed with the way the line has performed and let them know about it.

One option the Leafs have is replacing Komarov with Connor Brown who was moved to the fourth line after Komarov took his spot on the right side. Early in camp, Kadri has learned to appreciate and respect what Marleau brings every night.

“When he gets the puck in the corner, or open ice, sometimes you want to support your winger and be closer to him,” said Kadri to the media. “Not Marleau. You’ve got to give him some space. He’s a big strong guy who can hold guys off and beat guys one-on-one. In order for me to read off him, I have to get to areas where I can be a threat to score, because he’s going to get me the puck.”

Hopefully the strength of this line will be Marleau’s strong skating ability which should open up space for Kadri and Komarov to maneuver in the offensive zone. Defensively this group will be a pain to play against especially Kadri and Komarov who are known for getting under the skin of their opponents.