Toronto Maple Leafs: How the lineup changes with Auston Matthews back

EDMONTON, AB - NOVEMBER 30: Jake Gardiner
EDMONTON, AB - NOVEMBER 30: Jake Gardiner /

With Auston Matthews expecting to return against the Nashville Predators, how does this impact the Toronto Maple Leafs’ lineup?

The news of Auston Matthews’ return to the lineup will be a welcome sight to many, but not for some of his Toronto Maple Leafs’ teammates; somebody has to sit in the press box.

It is a good situation for head coach Mike Babcock to have, because he’s getting his best player back in the lineup. That also means he will have to make a decision on which player deserves to remain in the lineup.

What does this mean for the rest of the roster? Luckily for Babcock, with Leo Komarov still out with a leg injury, there is room for him to do some shuffling.

This is how the lines should look like against the Nashville Predators, with Matthews back on the top line:

Zach Hyman – Matthews – William Nylander

Patrick MarleauNazem KadriMitch Marner

James van RiemsdykTyler BozakConnor Brown

Andreas JohnssonTomas PlekanecKasperi Kapanen

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It should not come as a big surprise for Johnsson to continue seeing playing time. He has made an impact in the limited time he has been with the Leafs, especially when he has played with Nylander and Hyman.

Also, he and Dominic Moore are the only left-handed options for the fourth line, although Babcock has played wingers on their off-wing.

Once again this means Josh Leivo and Matt Martin will continue to sit in favour of the recent call-up. It is something the head coach has been willing to do if he feels a young player has earned the playing time.

The real question to consider is what will happen with Johnsson when Komarov is ready to return? While the rookie has shown a lot of promise, Babcock will want his trusty veteran in the lineup.

However, that is not going to be for at least another week, so there is no sense getting too worked up about it.

Instead, fans should just savour in the fact Matthews is back. He will add more depth to the lines and make the powerplay an even more dangerous threat.

His return should also energize the locker room in an important game and take advantage to terrorize goalies with his lethal shot.

Next: Auston Matthews says he's ready to return

How do you think the lineup gets impacted by Matthews’ return? Who should sit and what does the future hold for Johnsson? Let us know in the comments below.