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Five storylines to watch for as Maple Leafs open training camp

Leafs’ netminder Michael Hutchinson says he’s ready to embrace the role of backup goalie should he beat out rival Michal Neuvirth for the job.  (Stan Behal/Toronto Sun)
Leafs’ netminder Michael Hutchinson says he’s ready to embrace the role of backup goalie should he beat out rival Michal Neuvirth for the job.  (Stan Behal/Toronto Sun)

What’s happening with Mitch Marner?

He wasn’t at the golf outing, isn’t going to St. John’s and might end up practising with a team in Zurich to avert boredom.

Oct. 2 frees up LTIR money for Dubas to work with, but there was an interesting move in the bigger picture when defenceman Zach Werenski signed a three-year, $15-million deal with the Blue Jackets on Monday. The final year was for $7 million, which is what the Jackets would have to qualify Werenski at in a fourth year to keep his rights. A similar structure to a shorter Marner deal with something in excess of $11 million in the final year, could be the key to he and other idled RFAs, but it’s all theory right now.

Who plays wing with centre John Tavares?

“I’m anticipating like you guys are,” Tavares said this week, with Marner absent and Zach Hyman still out with a knee injury.

On paper, Andreas Johnsson and William Nylander could move up.

“We have so many great options whatever happens, we have a lot of depth,” Tavares continued. “Whoever it is, you just try and best prepare yourself and be versatile, adjust your game when you need to.”

How will the new defence shake out?

Expect Jake Muzzin-Tyson Barrie and Rielly-Ceci pairings to set Babcock’s left-right preferences. Then it’s a lot of hope that Harpur can both use his size and be mobile enough to keep pace with the Leafs’ flying circus. Then it’s how fast Travis Dermott gets back from shoulder surgery and whether one of many new kids on the block be a top six.

Who will be Frederik Andersen’s backup?

Michael Hutchinson used his first summer here to get used to the Leaf scene – and build an off-ice relationship with Andersen. Michal Neuvirth, a man of mystery, is on a PTO.

Do rookies have a realistic shot?

Just when you thought the Leafs had emptied the farm of prospects, Jeremy Bracco led the Marlies in scoring and defencemen Rasmus Sandin and first-rounders Timothy Liljegren played mega-minutes in all situations. The club is putting a lot of faith as well in new Russians Egor Korshkov and Ilya Mikheyev.

A position-by-position look at the training camp battles:

Goaltenders
Frederik Andersen
Michael Hutchinson
Michal Neuvirth
Defence
Jake Muzzin
Tyson Barrie
Morgan Rielly
*Travis Dermott
Cody Ceci
Ben Harpur
Jordan Schmaltz
Justin Holl
Rasmus Sandin
Timothy Liljegren
Kevin Gravel
Martin Marincin
Teemu Kivihalme
Centres
Auston Matthews
John Tavares
Alexander Kerfoot
Jason Spezza
Nick Shore
Frederik Gauthier
Hudson Elyniuk
Kalle Kossila
Aaron Luchuk
Left Wing
*Zach Hyman
Andreas Johnsson
Kenny Agostino
Nic Petan
Pierre Engvall
Mason Marchment
Dmytro Timashov
Right Wing
**Mitch Marner
William Nylander
Kasperi Kapanen
Trevor Moore
*Garrett Wilson
Ilya Mikheyev
Jeremy Bracco
Egor Korshkov
Pontus Aberg
* injured
** unsigned RFA

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