With just two regular-season games remaining for the Toronto Maple Leafs, it is a good time to look towards the playoffs. It is looking more and more likely that Toronto will be playing the Montreal Canadiens in round one of the NHL playoffs later this month.
There is still a chance that the Leafs could end up playing the Winnipeg Jets, but that has more to do with how well or poor the Montreal Canadiens does in their final two games against the Edmonton Oilers.
Another scenario that could play out is if the Calgary Flames win all of their four remaining games and Montreal loses their final two games. That would then make Toronto’s round one opponent the Flames.
So right now there is nothing set in stone for the Maple Leafs round one matchup, but things sure are interesting.
Toronto Maple Leafs Sign Kirill Semyonov
On Wednesday, May 5th, the Maple Leafs announced that they had signed KHL free agent Kirill Semyonov to a one-year entry-level contract.
The one-year deal is for the 2021-2022 season and it is structured as follows; $750,000 salary with a $75,000 signing bonus which brings his cap hit to $825,000. Semyonov will make $80,000 if he is sent down to the AHL and plays with the Toronto Marlies next season.
This season, Semyonov recorded 10 goals and 16 assists for 26 points in 60 games for Avangard Omsk. He followed that up with four goals and five assists for nine points in 23 KHL playoff games to help Avangard Omsk win the 2021 KHL Gagarin Cup.
It will be interesting to see where the KHL cup champion will fit in next year’s Maple Leafs lineup.
Maple Leafs Wounded Close to Returning
Toronto has been playing well lately despite having some key players out with injuries. This week should see the return of trade-deadline acquisition Nick Foligno to the line-up. He has been out since suffering an upper-body injury during a game against Montreal on May 3rd. The injury did not seem to be too serious as he was only listed as Day-to-Day.
Both Zach Hyman and Riley Nash have been skating in practice but in red non-contact jerseys. The fact that they are skating is a good sign. Hyman has been out since leaving the game on April 18th. He suffered a sprained MCL during a knee on knee collision with Alexander Edler. Edler is the highest-scoring defenseman in franchise history since joining the team in 2006. The Vancouver Canucks have had many talented players in the 50 years of the franchise.
Edler was suspended for two games for sticking his leg out and causing the injury to happen. He also paid for his actions in a fight against Toronto’s Wayne Simmonds on April 29th.
Nash was injured on April 3rd during a game against the Florida Panthers while he was a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets. The injury is a sprained knee and he was expected to miss four to six weeks.
For salary cap reasons, Nash might be left on long-term injured reserve until the playoffs, cause once the playoffs start, there is no salary cap. This will make things easier on Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas.
Frederik Andersen Continues to Struggle With Toronto Marlies
Maple Leafs netminder Frederik Andersen, who is no longer the starter in Toronto, is on a three-game conditioning stint with Toronto’s AHL team to see if he is fit to play. If he is deemed fit to play, the team can then take him off long-term injured reserve and he will be able to join the Maple Leafs active roster.
He has played in two games so far for the Marlies and he hasn’t looked that good in either. In his first game, he gave up two goals on 14 shots while playing in the first half of the game against the Manitoba Moose on May 6th.
During his second game, he played the full 64 plus minutes in a shootout loss to the Moose on Saturday. He gave up four goals on 38 shots. Andersen has a 3.77 goals-against average and a .885 save percentage in his one and a half games played.
He has allowed six goals on 52 shots which is not the kind of numbers the Maple Leafs were hoping to see, but this is a conditioning stint for someone who hasn’t played in over a month before these two games.
Andersen’s third and final start of his three-game conditioning stint will either be on May 11th or May 12th against the Laval Rocket. The Maple Leafs management and fans will be hoping to see more improvement in Andersen’s game.
Andersen was at practice this morning (Monday, May 10th), but there has been no announcement made at the time of this writing on whether he will be rejoining the Maple Leafs this week or not.
It will be great for the Maple Leafs to get Foligno, Hyman, and Nash back in time for the Playoffs. Those three players will make Toronto harder to play against.
It is a shame to see Andersen struggling, but even if he rejoins the Maple Leafs, I believe that head coach Sheldon Keefe has to play Jack Campbell to start the NHL playoffs. Campbell has more than earned that right.
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