Ottawa's in town to open the preseason tonight, and they're practising at home and coming into Toronto this afternoon for the game. They've brought a pile of players with them and many will play in only one of the back-to-back games at the ACC.
Robin Lehner, a Sens second rounder who played last year for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, will play the entire game in goal for Ottawa. Jonas Gustavsson will start for the Leafs and play the first half, with gigantic rookie Finn Jussi Rynnas coming in after 30 minutes.
Darren posted the lineups in the links this morning, but it's worth noting that all NHL teams have to play at least eight "veterans" in every preseason game. According to the CBA, here's what constitutes a veteran:
"A Club shall be permitted to dress a minimum of eight (8) veterans for any Exhibition Game. For purposes of this Section, a veteran shall constitute either: (1) a forward or defenseman who played in thirty (30) NHL Games during the previous season, (2) a goaltender who either dressed in fifty (50) or more NHL Games or played in thirty (30) or more NHL Games in the previous season, (3) a first round draft choice from the most recent year's Entry Draft or (4) any Player who has played one-hundred (100) or more career NHL Games."
Also worth noting: Nine exhibition games is the max allowed by the CBA and that's how many the Leafs are playing over the next 12 days.
One of those not considered a "veteran" in the Leafs lineup is new defenceman Matt Lashoff, an Albany, N.Y., native who was the Bruins' first round pick back in 2005. He landed with Toronto in a minor deal with Tampa Bay for Alex Berry and Stefano Giliati about a month ago, but has 63 games NHL experience and was at one point a highly regarded prospect.
Lashoff's likely the ninth defenceman on Toronto's depth chart at the moment, behind Brett Lebda and Jeff Finger for the extra defenceman slot. He was a big-time minus in the Tampa system last year and has a one-way deal this season ($550,000), meaning he'll have to pass through waivers if/when he gets cut.
"I think preseason is my playoffs," Lashoff said after the morning skate. "Being traded (here), there's a lot of people from around the organization that don't know exactly what you can do."
Here's some audio from him today talking about his struggles last season in the AHL, his bid to make the Leafs and why he's exited to be in Toronto:
A couple items from coach Ron Wilson's pregame press conference today:
- Five of the six Leafs goalies will play in preseason, with Andrew Engelage being the odd-man out. JS Giguere, who I wrote about today, will play one complete game in the first five. Gustavsson will play a complete game against the Sabres on Saturday. Ben Scrivens, Rynnas and James Reimer will split the rest of the exhibition starts in the early going.
Wilson said he is expecting more from his goalies over what Vesa Toskala offered last season: "If we can do what we were doing last year in terms of limiting shots and chances against I'd be happy. I think this year we're going to get the saves that we didn't get in the first half last year."
- And here's Wilson's daily Nazem Kadri update, talking about what he wants to see from the youngster in order to justify giving him an NHL job:
Wilson: "I have to see if Nazem Kadri can play in the NHL. We're not handing him a job, he's got to earn it ... He has to play well. He has to find a way to put points up there. He can't let us down defensively. A centreman's job, that's a huge job, and not many 19 year olds can come in and earn a first or second line position.
"Essentially, I really think like we talked about this last year, unless he's going to be on your top two lines -- maybe in our case, third line is reasonable as well, but if we have three guys playing better than him, we have to decide what we're going to do. Really it's up to Nazzy to get the job done. I'm not killing him with eight or nine exhibition games and he limps out of training camp with no energy. He plays three of the first five games; I don't think anything back to back. So he'll be rested in the games and we'll see what he can do."
The team still hasn't announced any cuts, but my guess is many of the junior players will head back to their teams shortly in time for their seasons (which start this weekend).
Finally, here are a few words from Kadri on his mindset going into the preseason: