Frederik Gauthier, the mainstay on the fourth line as of late, will miss a minimum of Toronto’s next two games, giving deadline acquisition Nic Petan a chance to impress in the Blue and White.
Nic Petan offers some solid usability as a gadget forward, playing both wings and center in his young career. For Toronto, that means he’s the de facto center as he was brought in for the Leafs backup option at center Par Lindholm.
Skill Over Size
Petan is certainly an upgrade on skill over Gauthier, but Toronto has to sacrifice size with the Gaut injured. It’s a bit of a loss as Gauthier has impressed with his forechecking and net-front presence this season.
It’s no secret that Toronto’s fourth line, which saw a surge in productivity through January and February, has been slumping in March. An injury is never a good thing to a team (see Toronto’s struggles with the polarizing Gardiner out), but a shake up was certainly needed on the bottom-6.
Statistically speaking, Petan is a bit up and down in his three games with Toronto this season. He’s scored one goal, which was a no-doubt laser beam in front of the net, but he’s also got a -3 rating. Gauthier’s injury will give him a chance to show he’s got some defensive prowess as well.
Where one injury subtracts from the team, it seems like another will add to the team as Kasperi Kapanen is back in practice. Kapanen, who initially missed time due to illness, was then diagnoses with a concussion and has missed the last four games.
With his reassertion into the team, the likes of Connor Brown gets pushed down to the bottom unit and Ennis is the odd man out. Ennis, who has looked good since his return from injury, has blown cold in recent weeks. Like Gauthier’s absence, Ennis’ pushing out of the lineup could refresh and remotivate the tenacious forward.
Hyman has also returned, so Kapanen’s return makes it s 2-for-1 swap of injured players. Of course, having no injuries would be better but Kapanen and Hyman provide that front end depth Toronto has been missing. Hopefully Petan can capture lightning in a bottle with his extended tryout and prove he has what it takes to contribute!