Maple Leafs to see tough competition for attacking spots
Additionally, Engvall is widely regarded as the fittest of the Maple Leafs players. When Keefe became head coach following the sacking of former head coach Mike Babcock, Engvall sat next to Keefe on the plane to Arizona and scored a goal in Keefe’s first game as as head coach. The point is, Keefe has a history with Engvall and likes him.
However, for some reason Engvall seems to be in Keefe’s niche. Maybe it’s a tough love situation, where Keefe thinks he can get the most out of the tall and very fast Swede. It could also be that there is something about Engvall’s game that Keefe just doesn’t like.
Engvall has size and speed. He can strike; however, he was much more physical when he played for the Marlies than he was with the Maple Leafs. Engvall is also playing a strong defensive game. We think he will have to lose his place in training camp, but he could end up 13th forward at the start of the season.
Player 5: Kurtis Gabriel
Kurtis Gabriel is the 13th forward in the Maple Leafs at best. Fans of Sesame Street will recognize the song “One of these things is not like the others”. This song applies to Gabriel. Gabriel is 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 200 pounds and has no problem dropping the gloves. According to hockeyfights.com, he appeared in six fights in 2021 alone.
Unfortunately, at 28, Gabriel has only played 49 games in the NHL. The most games he played in a season was 22 for the New Jersey Devils in 2018-19. The longest ice time he averaged in a season was in 2021, when he averaged 7:40 TOI in 11 games for the San Jose Sharks. He will be a spot player at best.
Player 6: Ondrej Kase
As I noted in my post two days ago, Kase is a long shot to play this season. We believe he was signed for his potential and the team are willing to wait until he heals from his concussion issues. As a result, we think there is only a slim chance that he will play this season. However, if he can play, it is an added value for the organization. Until then, we think the Maple Leafs will be very careful with Kase and start the season on LTIR.
2021-22 Maple Leafs forwards prediction
During this offseason, Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas set out to create a roster competition. He seems to have done it. There’s no way the Maple Leafs will start the season with 15 forwards. That leaves some Maple Leafs forwards fighting for a spot.
Here’s who we think the Maple Leafs forwards are in the season opener.