The Toronto Maple Leafs started practice on Monday with a completely different look and one head coach Sheldon Keefe has been waiting a long time to try out. Due to injuries, COVID absences and everything in between, the Leafs coach has not been able to put his fingerprints all over the roster but that all changed Monday with these new look lines.

For the first time all season long Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander are all on different lines, with Nylander and his 38 points in 38 games on the team’s third line. This gives the shifty winger a great opportunity to take advantage of the matchup with other teams and coach Keefe is hopeful this balance for Toronto will help expose other teams.

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Another player to watch here is Ilya Mikheyev. The one-time disgruntled Leaf has enjoyed some great success since coming back from a hand injury, recording six goals and seven points in nine games. The pending unrestricted free agent who had his trade request vetoed by the Maple Leafs last summer has been given a promotion to the second line with John Tavares and Marner and he’s also enjoyed some more time recently on the second power-play unit.  

As for the top line, Ondrej Kase and Michael Bunting both have the opportunity of a life time playing along side Matthews. Both Kase and Bunting love to muck it up in the dirty areas and work hard, but both have the offensive instincts to click with Matthews which Leafs Nation has seen in their hand full of games together. 

Now staying healthy, that’s a whole different beast for the Maple Leafs as they continue to be without defenseman Jake Muzzin who is out with a concussion. The forward group however is now full healthy and look for Keefe and company to give these combinations a look as the team welcomes the Anaheim Ducks to Scotiabank Arena on Wednesday night.

Photo credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

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