Mitch Marner looks like a good bet to play in Maple Leafs' opener

Shawn McKenzie and Luke Fox preview the season opener for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens, from Mitch Marner's injury status and whether there are any lingering feelings from last year's playoff series.

TORONTO -- Signs are encouraging that Mitch Marner will be available to play in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ season-opener Wednesday night.

The top-line winger looked like his usual self, buzzing around the ice for about 15 minutes during the club’s optional morning skate.

Leaning on the side of caution, coach Sheldon Keefe announced that Marner will be a game-time decision versus Montreal.

"It was a positive morning for Mitch," Keefe said. "The skate went well, so we are encouraged by that."

Marner left Tuesday’s practice early for precautionary reasons after getting accidentally clipped high by teammate Wayne Simmonds.

The Maple Leafs are already entering the season shorthanded on forwards, with Auston Matthews (wrist) and Ilya Mikheyev (thumb) sidelined.

Mikheyev underwent successful thumb surgery Wednesday morning and will be out eight weeks.

Matthews has been ruled out for the Leafs' first three games but has been a full participant in practice for more than a week and appears to be recovering from surgery nicely.

With the goal-scoring champ out of the lineup, John Tavares slides up to the top unit with Marner and Nick Ritchie. Jason Spezza will assume Matthews' spot on the flank of the top power-play unit.

Former Leafs centre Adam Brooks, who was picked up by Montreal on waivers this week, will be a healthy scratch as Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme plans to "gradually" incorporate Brooks into the group.

Puck drop Wednesday is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET.

Maple Leafs projected lines for Opening Night
Ritchie - Tavares - Marner
Bunting - Kerfoot - Nylander
Engvall - Kampf - Kase
Amadio - Spezza - Simmonds

Rielly - Brodie
Muzzin - Holl
Sandin - Dermott

Campbell starts

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