One of the more encouraging signs in the early part of the Toronto Maple Leafs has been the emergence of their forward depth.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have already seen their share of highs and lows this season even though they’ve only played six games. Today we are going to look at the biggest positive that should provide some optimism going forward.
When the Leafs traded Nazem Kadri for Tyson Barrie, there was concern about losing some of the intangibles Kadri brought to the third line but one thing that hasn’t been an issue is the lines ability to score. The trio of Alexander Kerfoot, Trevor Moore and Ilya Mikheyev have combined for seven goals and 13 points in six games this season which is not something we expected heading into the season.
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The fourth line has also seen success led by Frederik Gauthier and the rotation of Jason Spezza, Nic Petan, Dmytro Timashov and Nick Shore. Any time they can produce offensively is a bonus and it’s clear Mike Babcock isn’t afraid to send out that line and Leafs fans shouldn’t be either.
What’s impressed with the depth players to start the season is that they have been able to produce while being trusted mainly in defensive situations. They are relentless on the forecheck and have provided some of the top highlights of the season especially Mikheyev who might see a soup endorsement in his near future.
When you look back at last season the Leafs were hoping that signing John Tavares would give them a big advantage especially in the playoffs. That was until Kadri got himself suspended against the Bruins and the Leafs depth was exposed.
Hopefully, with the way the depth has been able to outshine the top six, the Leafs can ride that into the playoffs where you need to rely on your depth when your top-line players aren’t performing.
Another encouraging sign is how Babcock is willing to rotate players on the fourth line and give them reps. Considering how other teams will want to play a scrappy style against the Leafs, it should provide some optimism seeing this group have some push back even though that’s not getting enough attention right now.
We know the Leafs top paid forwards are going to produce so as long as the depth can provide that support, it makes the Leafs a dangerous team going forward.
What are your thoughts on how the depth players have played in the early part of the season? Can they sustain it for the entire season and playoffs? Let us know in the comments below.