The Toronto Maple Leafs have raised a lot of eyebrows around the league with their decision to make 3 of their core forwards among the richest paid players in the entire National Hockey League. As a result many organizations, pundits and fans will be looking at their model over the next several years to gauge whether or not it is a viable way to do business, and win in the NHL.
One thing is certain is that the spending of general manager Kyle Dubas has secured the Maple Leafs 3 top tier talents for the next several years, and it sounds like the Maple Leafs intend to put that talent on full display very early on this season. According to a report from Toronto Maple Leafs beat reporter Jonas Siegel of The Athletic, the Maple Leafs were showing off a revamped power player unit on Monday that would showcase every member of their big 3, Maple Leafs forwards John Tavares, Auston Matthews, and Mitch Marner.
Now this might seem somewhat curious at first given that both Tavares and Matthews are traditionally centers, however Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock had the 3 forwards split up in the following pattern at practice on Monday:
Auston Matthews was along the right half-wall, John Tavares was playing the bump, and Mitch Marner was along the right half wall. The group of 3 forwards was joined by Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly who was playing the point, and Toronto Maple Leafs forward Andreas Johnsson playing in front of the net. There is still quite a bit of time before the start of the regular season and things could change between now and then, but you could certainly see why the Maple Leafs would want to flex their star power on the first power play unit.
If you are hoping to see this unit showcase it's stuff in the preseason though you may be out of luck, at least for the time being. The Maple Leafs have also unveiled their official roster for tonight's game against the Montreal Canadiens and none of Toronto's big 3 will be on the roster this evening. In fact the roster seems entirely devoid of NHL regulars, which likely means that Mike Babcock is hoping to get a better look at his bubble players before he makes his final decisions.