The Toronto Maple Leafs have gone on a great run since the firing of former head coach Mike Babcock and the appointment of newly crowned Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe, but it now sounds like Keefe believes there is still plenty of room for improvement.
Although nothing is official yet on Monday morning Keefe made some serious changes to what would be his top lines upon the return of Toronto Maple Leafs star forward Mitch Marner. According to a report from Jonas Siegel of The Athletic, Marner was spotted skating with John Tavares and Ilya Mikheyev during the Monday morning practice and Siegel called it "perhaps a preview of what is to come" upon seeing the new line combination out there. That of course would mean that Toronto Maple Leafs veteran forward Zach Hyman would be coming off of Toronto's top line, a move that some fans have argued should have been made a long time ago in the favor of placing another skilled forward on the line in his place.
Although you might think that this would result in Hyman being dropped down to the second line, where he would presumably play with Toronto Maple Leafs star forwards Auston Matthews and William Nylander, that appears not to be the case. No instead it seems that Matthews and Nylander will continue to play alongside Andreas Johnsson for the time being, while Hyman will fall all the way down to the team's third line. According to Siegel that move put Hyman back on the left wing alongside fellow Maple Leaf teammates Alex Kerfoot and Kasperi Kapanen, a group that sounds like they would form a very good utility line for the Maple Leafs moving forward.
Now if you're wondering why these changes were shown at practice today when Mitch Marner has not yet fully recovered from his high ankle sprain, well that is due to the fact that you missed our update on Marner earlier today. Not only was Marner back out on the ice for the Maple Leafs this morning but Keefe hinted at the fact that there may be a return in the very near future.
“Based on his performance today, it doesn’t look like he’s too far away,” said Keefe of Marner's potential return to the line up.