Sheldon Keefe makes a major change to his top lines.
Craig Robertson/Toronto Star  

Sheldon Keefe makes a major change to his top lines.

The head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs appears to be sending one of his top stars a message.

Jonathan Larivee

The head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs may be sending a message to one of his top stars.

On Monday, Sheldon Keefe made a major change to his two top lines when he demoted one of his struggling forwards and promoted another that has been red hot for the Maple Leafs this season.

The change, and it is a big one, will see Mitch Marner pulled off of the team's top line and away from longtime linemate Auston Matthews and moved down to the second line where he will join Maple Leafs captain John Tavares.

That of course will in turn precipitate a necessary change to the second line and the adjustment there will see William Nylander joining Auston Matthews on the team's top line.

Marner has been the target of significant criticism as of late with a dip in his point production and Sheldon Keefe even did his best to shield his star forward from some of that criticism during his recent comments. It would appear as though, in spite of his comments to the contrary, Keefe has also taken notice of the decline in Marner's game recently.

Nylander on the other hand has been producing at a blistering pace this season with 12 goals and 15 assists for a total of 27 points in just 19 games, and you would be hard pressed to argue that he hasn't consistently been among the best players for the Maple Leafs this season on a nightly basis. It seems clear that Sheldon Keefe feels Nylander deserves the promotion to the team's top line, and his performance on the ice certainly seems to warrant it.