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

TORONTO, CANADA - OCTOBER 02: Auston Matthews
TORONTO, CANADA - OCTOBER 02: Auston Matthews /
5 of 5
connor brown
DETROIT, MI – APRIL 01: Connor Brown /

Fourth line: Matt Martin/Dominic Moore/Connor Brown

This is the line that went through the biggest makeover in the offseason after it went through many changes during the season. Kasperi Kapanen was sent down to the Toronto Marlies and Brian Boyle signed with the New Jersey Devils. The lone returning player on the fourth line is  Martin and that does not come as a surprise given how the team values him.

Bringing in Moore for $1-million provides the Leafs with a stable veteran presence and it allows the younger players like Aaltonen and Brooks a chance to play a more prominent role with the Marlies and maybe take the reigns next season.

When it comes to Brown being moved to the fourth line, that is a decision that might not last the entire season as he is a player that could move to the Kadri line if it needs a shake up. At the same time, Brown will continue to have an impact, he might not score 20 goals again this season but anywhere in the 15-20 goal range would be solid production for the 23-year-old.

This fourth line has a chance to be an upgrade on what the team had last season where Ben Smith was the center at times. Sure many people would have liked to see Kapanen get a shot but the Leafs obviously want him develop outside of a fourth line role. Gauthier will likely take over for Moore next season once he shows that his leg injury will not be a problem going forward.

As for the extra forwards, like many expected Josh Leivo will be sitting in the press box waiting for an opportunity much like Frankie Corrado did last season. However, if there is an injury to a winger Leivo will have no problem getting into the lineup. Eric Fehr is likely to occupy the 14th forward spot given his ability to play down the middle and on the wing. It makes more sense to have them occupy those spots so that Kapanen and Aaltonen can get regular playing time with the Marlies during the season.

Next: Tough roster decisions a result of strong competition

The Leafs will get their season started on October 4th on the road against the Winnipeg Jets.