A rare piece of good news in Leafs land this morning…
Dermott skating alongside Holl this morning , looks like he’s a go for tomorrow. #LeafsForever
— Paul Hendrick (@HennyTweets) October 28, 2019
That’s encouraging. Now let’s break down what it means to get the word count up on this post.
#1. This likely spells the immediate end of Kevin Gravel’s time with the Leafs. It was short lived. It wasn’t particularly good, although I think he can be better. It’s necessary to get the Leafs into roster and cap compliance, and it’s likely we’ll see him again at some point this season.
This might be a heartbreaker for those of you who want to see Martin Marincin launched into the sun, but I think his versatility of playing on either side of the ice and his more established relationship with the Leafs have earned him the 7th D spot for now, or at least until more significant roster cuts need to be made.
#2. Dermott is playing with Holl. This shouldn’t be too big a surprise, since he’s just coming back into the league and will need some time and breaking him in on the third pairing makes the most sense. It’s also likely he sticks to the third pairing no matter how much some of us want to see Dermott with Rielly to give the Leafs a much rosier looking Top 4.
The fact that Rielly was absent from practice today and Dermott wasn’t working with Ceci means that there is no intention of immediately trying a Dermott and Ceci pairing or Rielly and Dermott pairing. The plan is for Dermott to play with Holl, and honestly I can be pretty darn happy with that pairing. Muzzin and Barrie will get clicking at some point and Dermott and Holl are a very promising third pairing. We are 100% just waiting out Ceci, but who knows, maybe a genie will grant him his wish of learning how to play positional hockey.
Morgan Rielly absent from Leafs practice
Third straight practice he has missed
— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) October 28, 2019
That’s not good. Rielly is very likely working through something, and I have to say, wouldn’t it make more sense to get him healed up properly now rather than waiting until the Leafs are in what looks like it could be a very competitive stretch run for the team this year? Take advantage of the 82 game season and get the players healthy. That just seems like a good idea.
Right now we’ll assume that Rielly is still in, but it will be interesting to see what would happen in his absence. Muzzin and Barrie would very much become the top pairing, but it would be interesting to see how Ceci is utilized in that event. Do the Leafs test him with Dermott or do they commit to the Dermott/Holl pairing as a thing? A Marincin-Ceci bottom pairing seems like it would have the potential anger every Leaf fan in unison and could be the one thing that brings us all together.
As for now, let’s just enjoy that Dermott is back and the blueline just got a little better. We’ll worry about the other stuff later. It’s a great day for everyone not named Kevin Gravel.