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The Toronto Maple Leafs went through lengthy on-ice workouts on Thursday and again on Day #3 of their 2022-23 training camp at the Ford Performance Centre on Friday, as they prepare for a double header against the Ottawa Senators to open the pre-season on Saturday. The Leafs are dealing with a few injuries to start camp, but are also experimenting with different line combinations that will likely not be utilized when the regular season opens on October 12.
Injury update – Jake Muzzin did not take part in Thursday’s activities and will be held out of the weekend game(s) with some back discomfort, but is expected to be back early next week. Muzzin did not participate in the Leafs golf tournament on Monday, but all indications are that this is precautionary and minor in nature.
Winger Pierre Engvall and goalie Joseph Woll were on the ice on Thursday, but on a separate pad with the club’s training staff. Engvall suffered an ankle injury in Sweden during the summer and is expected to be back by the end of camp, while Woll is still recovering from shoulder surgery.
We have a Pierre Engvall sighting at FPC. The #Leafs winger is in full gear and working out on another rink. Kyle Dubas indicated he would not be available until the end of camp. pic.twitter.com/r1flYg48kN
Goalie Workload – Leafs goalie Ilya Samsonov had offers from other NHL clubs to sign a multi-year deal, but chose to bet on himself and sign a one-year, $1.8 million deal with Toronto. Samsonov worked with new goaltending coach Curtis Sanford and skated with Vezina Trophy winner Igor Shesterkin over the summer, and is expecting to split time with Matt Murray this season.
“Matt and I will both get some time,” Samsonov said. “This is a nice opportunity for me. He is a nice guy and we will try to push each other and we want to win with this team.”
Battle for spots – The Leafs have made it known to players coming in that there are spots on the roster that are up for grabs. In goal, the Murray – Samsonov pairing is a fait accompli. On defense, the Rasmus Sandin impasse and Timothy Liljegren's injury likely solidifies Justin Holl’s place in the short term and Jordie Benn making the NHL club to start the season, but the greatest opportunity seems to be at forward.
Denis Malgin returned to North America after two strong seasons in Switzerland, but he appears to be a long shot at best. Zach Aston-Reese was brought in on a PTO, but his size and experience in Pittsburgh would seem to be what Toronto is looking for from a bottom-six forward.
“I think it's a good opportunity for me to showcase what I can bring. I'm a physical forward and play good defense.” Aston-Reese said. “I'm hoping to add in a little more offense this year after a not-so-good one last year. The coaches and staff have made it clear that their spots are available, so I'm just gonna work my bag off and then try to earn a spot.”