Ramblings: Preseason Action! Ho-Sang, Neal, Hoffman, Carter (Sept 26)

Ian Gooding

2021-09-26

If the Leafs elect not to sign Josh Ho-Sang to a contract, they can't say that he wasn't at least given an opportunity. During the morning skate and during Saturday's preseason game, Ho-Sang was used on a line with John Tavares and Michael Bunting, and he was also given first-unit power-play time. The talent has always been there with Ho-Sang, but the question has always been if he could make it work with an NHL's team's coaching and management.

If you frequently visit this website or follow the Leafs, you'll already know that they've brought in a ton of forwards for their training camp, so PTOs Ho-Sang and Nikita Gusev face long odds to make the big club. That being said, Ho-Sang might be a candidate for an AHL contract if he is willing to work his way to the NHL after spending last year in Sweden. He has proven himself as an AHL scorer, so it might be more about whether he can fit in and buy into a team's system. The fact that he would be playing in his hometown will surely provide incentive.

I'm not at a point where I'd recommend purchasing penny stock in Ho-Sang. However, it will be interesting to see how this plays out. He is now 25 years of age, so I'd have to think this is his last NHL opportunity. If he doesn't find a way onto either the Leafs or the Marlies, then it's probably back to Europe.

Tavares happened to be playing in his first game since his serious injury from the first game of last season's playoffs, scoring a power-play goal. Obviously he is fine and should be drafted as normal.

Bunting also made the most of his opportunity, scoring a goal of his own. Toronto might not have been the most ideal place for him to play, but he could have an opportunity to succeed with a strong preseason.

Goalie prospect Ian Scott reinjured his groin in this game and is expected to miss time. He has played in only six games since the 2018-19 season. Joseph Woll was injured on Friday, so the Leafs' goaltending depth will be put to the test. For more on Scott and Woll, see the Leafs Dobber Prospects page.  

In the other preseason game, James Neal scored a hat trick for the Blues. He is with St. Louis on a professional tryout, so that is certainly the right way to make an impression.  

Speaking of the Blues, they completed a minor deal on Saturday, sending Zach Sanford to Ottawa for 2016 first-round pick Logan Brown and a conditional 2022 draft pick. The 6-6 Brown has scored one goal and nine points in 30 career NHL games, and will try to make a go of it in his hometown of St. Louis after not being able to secure a full-time NHL job with the Sens. Brown has also battled injuries throughout his career.

It's possible that the Blues can use the $2 million that came off the books for Sanford to sign either Neal or Michael Frolik