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Friday, September 20, 2013

2013-14 Toronto Maple Leafs face tough training camp decisions


Jonathan Bernier will look to prove his value to his team mates and Leafs management.

Let's first look at the horses that will be relied upon extensively:


Lupul - Bozak - Phil Kessel 
JVR - Kadri - Clarkson

Jay McClement


Dion Phaneuf
Jake Gardner
Carl Gunnarsson


Bernier / Reimer

The next wave should include:


Dave Bolland
Nik Kulemin


Cody Franson (if signed soon)
Mark Fraser (with Kostka gone, more minutes for Mark)


McIntyre (if Bernier and Reimer are both healthy, will start with Marlies)

That's 17 players, so 16 Leafs if you figure Drew heads to the Marlies net. Twenty-one skaters will likely include thirteen or fourteen forwards and seven or eight defencemen, which means we need four of five forwards, plus two or three on defence, up to four if Cody Franson is not ready to start the 2013-2014 NHL season.

Main contenders:


Joe Colborne (needs to clear waivers if sent down, so will make team or be traded)
Mason Raymond (looks like may stay, based on exhibition games)
Frazer McLaren (with Orr injured, pencil Frazer in; now they're both out)


John Michael-Liles (needs to rebound, still has top four potential)
Morgan Reilly (more likely if Franson holds out or is traded)
Paul Ranger (may be perfect 3rd pairing guy)

If you are with me up to this point, there now remains just one position open, at forward:

Carter Ashton (getting a look at filling the pest role)
Troy Brodie (depth in enforcer ranks)
Jamie Devane (will likely start with Marlies, if McLaren or Orr can be ready in time)

This thirteenth forward position may also be filled via trade or free agent signing, pushing a fourth-liner into the press box.

If there are injuries or upsets, other defencemen in the mix include Holzer, MacWilliam and Brennan.

Leafs have a lot of D contracts expiring at the end of the season, so they want Cody to sign for at least two years. If he gives up the one year idea and goes for an even bigger deal, say three or four years, then Liles would likely be moved, possibly to Calgary, to make room for Franson.

In today's NHL, you need about 30 NHLers to have a successful Stanley Cup run. Look for the Buds to add another free agent signing or two, and soon.

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