Toronto Maple Leafs forward Kenny Agostino will make his season and team debut when his team hosts the Winnipeg Jets at Scotiabank Arena on Thursday.
The 28-year-old has two goals and five assists in eight games with the Toronto Marlies this season. He was assigned to the Leafs’ taxi squad on Feb. 27.
“[He] has been real leader and one of the best, if not the most consistent, players with the Marlies when he’s been down there,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said.
Agostino skated on the fourth line with Jason Spezza and Jimmy Vesey during the team’s practice on Wednesday. Amid a season-high three-game losing streak, Keefe hopes that injecting a fresh body will help get his team back on track.
“[He is] someone who is hungry for his opportunity and his chance,” Keefe said. “We just think it might inject something into the group today.”
Agostino signed a two-year contract with the Maple Leafs at an average annual value of $737,500 on July 24, 2019. He last played in the NHL during the 2018-19 season, where he split his time between the Montreal Canadiens and New Jersey Devils.
Travis Boyd will come out of the lineup to make room for Agostino.
The American-born player has eight goals and 22 assists in 85 NHL games.
Jumbo keeps things light
Toronto’s investment in Joe Thornton is being put to the test as the team tries to shake off consecutive losses against the Vancouver Canucks last week and against the Jets on Tuesday.
Signed to a one-year $700,000 contract by the Leafs back in October, Thornton’s contributions off the ice were a priority to help push the team through adversity.
“There’s going to up and there’s going to be downs, you’ve got to fight through it all,” Thornton said. “I think having a good sense of humor and know when there’s work to be done, but really enjoy what you do, and I think the team in general has been great with that.”
Thornton’s contribution on the ice has been solild. He has three goals and eight assists in 15 games this season. The 41-year-old will move into a tie for sixth on the all-time NHL games-played list tonight. He and Mark Recchi will both sit at 1652 games after Thursday.
Keeping it light with the nicknames
With access limited this season due to the pandemic, anytime we learn of any new nicknames (mostly created by Thornton) we learn a little bit more about the Leafs.
Thornton has been the creator of most of the names, but said he didn’t come up with ‘Fredzilla’ for Frederik Andersen. That term was used by Matthews to describe the team’s starting goaltender following their 6-1 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Mar. 3.
Alex Kerfoot disclosed a pair of nicknames not heard before to describe Jimmy Vesey.
“The guys have been calling Vesey ‘Hollywood’ or ‘Nine-0’ a little bit,” Kerfoot said.
Simmonds could join practice next week
Toronto Maple Leafs forward Wayne Simmonds could join team practices next week as the veteran forwards works his way to returning to the lineup.
“Everything looks very positive in terms of how things have progressed here,” Keefe said. “My conversations with the medical staff been very good and [he] just continues to work his way through getting back up to speed and getting more comfortable.”
Simmonds fractured his wrist on Feb. 6 against the Canucks. The timeline for his absence was announced as six weeks. Simmonds. That’s puts his return at around Mar. 20 give or take a days.
The 32-year-old scored five goals in 12 games this season. He has been skating with skills and conditioning staff since the team was away for their five-game trip out west.