The Leafs mini 3 game rookie tournament has come to a close. The Leafs lost their final game against the Senators due to penalty trouble, despite getting goals from key prospects Bradley Ross and Jerry D'Amigo, which put them in the lead heading to the third period. Now that hockey's equivalent of kindergarten is over, it's time for everything to get serious. 63 players have been invited to training camp. All of those 63 individuals have the same goal, to make the cut for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Realistically, this is an impossibility. A large portion will be sent back to their junior clubs, hoping to have at least gained some insight for next time. Others will fill the roster of the AHL affiliate Toronto Marlies. After all, only 23 men are eligible to call themselves Toronto Maple Leafs. It is in that quest for the final 23, that questions are raised, and need to be answered.
Three major quires are nagging me as training camp gets underway. First is on defense. With 8 NHL ready d-men, and five of six spots seemingly spoken for, who fills that final spot? Gunnarsson or Lebda? Will the team dress seven defense men to accommodate both? My second question is in regards to the centre position? Specifically, which players will fill the top two centre roles? Tyler Bozak, Nazem Kadri, Mikhail Grabovski, and Marcel Mueller are the main contenders for the top two spots. For that matter, who will be our bottom two line centres. That position could be filled by any number of candidates including Christian Hanson, John Mitchell, and Brayden Irwin? The question on every Leaf fans mind is what the line combinations will look like come opening night? That answer will be known on opening night, but the answers to the other questions, will be revealed throughout the pre-season, which begins on Tuesday night when the Toronto Maple Leafs take on the Ottawa Senators.