The Leafs are back: Here is what you need to know


On Sunday, the Toronto Maple Leafs announced their phase three return to play roster prior to the start of camp.

Nic Petan and Pontus Aberg were two of the forwards that did not make the original phase three roster. However, it was later corrected, as Petan was deemed “fit to play” and replaced Mac Hollowell. Aberg, on the other hand, has signed with the KHL’s Traktor Chelyabinsk and does not plan on returning to North America.

Nicholas Robertson is another forward who made the phase three return to play roster. Robertson, picked 53rd overall in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, certainly made himself a prospect to watch over the last year. In 46 games played, Robertson tallied 55 goals and 31 assists for the OHL’s Peterborough Petes. Following practice on Monday, his new teammates had nothing but good things to say about him. Morgan Rielly explained that “he’s a guy that’s going to continue to push,” and “it’s good to have people like that on board.”

Jeremy Bracco was a name that did not appear on the roster. Back in May, when the AHL season was canceled, the Toronto Marlies’ general manager described Bracco’s season as “interesting,” which may actually be the best way to describe it. At training camp prior to the 2019–20 season, Bracco was coming out of his best season in the AHL yet. He had led the Marlies with 79 points, had played at over a point-per-game pace during the playoffs and had seen his defensive game start to improve. However, even with the injuries that plagued the Leafs this year, Bracco failed to crack the roster. The closest he came to playing for the NHL team was a day spent in the press box. Over the season, his stats dropped and his defensive game—a reoccurring criticism—somehow became worse.

The right wing has not played a game since early February when he took a leave of absence for “personal reasons.” While it is entirely possible that Bracco is not ready to return to hockey yet, there is also the question of where Bracco will go next. He is currently heading toward restricted free agency without arbitration rights.

Andreas Johnsson also did not appear on the roster. The left wing was on a six-month recovery timeline after his knee injury back on Feb. 13, of which surgery followed. As Maple Leafs General Manager Kyle Dubas noted during his press conference on Monday, Johnsson has done well with rehab back home and the club is waiting to see where he is at in the coming weeks.

Ilya Mikheyev has also rejoined the Leafs after sitting a large part of the season out due to injury and has become a stronger, faster player. Mikheyev has been put back with his previous linemates, Mitch Marner and John Tavares.

On Monday, Timothy Liljegren was deemed “unfit to play.” However, he has been seen at the arena watching practice and speaking to a medical trainer. This meaning his absence is likely injury related rather than coronavirus related. On Tuesday, it was announced that Hollowell would be replacing Liljegren on the roster, at least for the time being.

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