Leafs make three personnel moves, set opening night roster

Cam Charron
September 30 2013 04:21PM

The last moves have been finalized. The Toronto Maple Leafs have sent down John-Michael Liles, called up Troy Bodie, and send Frazer McLaren to the long-term injured reserve, setting their opening night roster.

Here's how I presume it shakes out in the beginning:

James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Joffrey Lupul - Nazem Kadri - Nikolai Kulemin
Mason Raymond - Dave Bolland - Carter Ashton
Troy Bodie - Jay McClement - Colton Orr
David Clarkson *
Frazer McLaren **

Carl Gunnarsson - Dion Phaneuf
Jake Gardiner - Cody Franson
Paul Ranger - Morgan Rielly
(Mark Fraser)

James Reimer
Jonathan Bernier

* - suspended
** - injured reserve

Making use of the long-term injured reserve allowed the team to bring up an extra skater from the minors to the NHL, and that was skater Troy Bodie. With the team so tight up against the cap, if a player gets hurt, basically treat the replacement you would an "equal or lesser value" coupon at Loblaws. Also, don't shop at Loblaws because it's outrageously expensive.

The top 6, Bozak excluded, looks pretty good, as does the third line. Not sure about the NHL potential of Bodie, and of course every team has a Colton Orr or two on the roster, so it's hard getting angry about either one of those.

Defence is fine. If the team has Morgan Rielly on the NHL squad but not getting into games, it's a total waste of development he could be getting in junior, which would include a return trip to the World Junior Championship and exhibition games against Russia in the Super Series. He'd probably get traded to a real team in the Western Hockey League as well.

If Rielly is sent down the junior, it clears the space necessary for the Leafs to recall John-Michael Liles.

Obviously, there will be a lot made about the Leafs spending 8.5% of their salary cap space on players that will not be there on opening night: Liles, Darcy Tucker, Colby Armstrong, and salary retention to Ben Scrivens and Matt Frattin. Ultimately, that was the Leafs' undoing this offseason and will prevent them from icing a full roster all year.

It does get better, once they clear the ten-game hurdle. Thankfully, the only back-to-back during David Clarkon's suspension comes on October 1st and 2nd, so it's unlikely they need a quick turnaround if facing an injury and not having time to fill the space.

Our poll, meanwhile, is on the side of the page, asks the $64,000 question:

Do you think the opening day roster looks better than last year's?

You get four options and only one choice. Make it a wise one.

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Cam Charron is a BC hockey fan that writes about hockey on many different websites including this one.
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#1 STAN
September 30 2013, 07:03PM
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I don't see this lineup as much improve, if any, over last seasons starting roster. Gone are Mike Koska, Mihkail Grabovski, Matt Frattin, Mike Brown and Ben Scrivens. I would argue that the additions of Dave Bolland, David Clarkson, Jon Bernier, Troy Bodie, Carter Ashton and Morgan Rielly are NOT an improvement. Not even close.

And here's why.

Captain Pylon shows NO signs of improvement and even seems slower and more mistake-prone than last spring, dense, Bernier's save percentage is under .900, Bolland comes with Kris Versteeg disease - Have Cup, New Team, Will Coast; Clarkson only came for the money, Bodie is here thank's to his father-in-law, Ashton shows energy, but little smarts and Morgan Rielly is trying to live up to the Burke hype - "He was the best player in the draft and we got him at # 5".

Let play begin.

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#2 STAN
September 30 2013, 07:30PM
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Oh, and one other thing.

Word is out that Leiweke and Nonis are trying to forge a last second deal with Phil Kessel. Boy, what better time to make a rational, thoughtful, measured decision than when the team is on the verge of starting a new season. This, as the best sniper on the team is playing with a centre who has a shiny new, non-incentive contract... and there are two new defensemen who he won't be helping on the back check.

This appears to be a case of Nonis and his massive management team taking direction from Leiweke; he did it with Nonis (who had NOT proven himself) and brought aboard the new Raptors GM who had a mere one season as an NBA GM… and on another team.

He decided that money was no object and he handed out these 5-year deals to them both. I guess he just said "Get it done and damn the cost! Throw in a NTC too. Why not. It's only money and we're throwing tens of millions away on Grabovski, Komisarek, Tucker, Armstrong, Scrivens/Frattin and now Liles. Who cares?"

My questions is… what's the rush with Kessel? He's under contract,. well-paid, happy in Toronto and isn't going anywhere, plus when the Leafs season ends in April there will be plenty of time to get a new deal done. A lot more time than these Leafs mismanagers have now.

And talk of $8-million per season is far too much, not to mention for 8 seasons. A lot can happen in a short time in sports. Sure he might be worth $3-$4-million more than a gritty plugger like Clarkson, but then Clarkson is making more than what he's worth. Because that's how these insane sports auctions go.

Hey, I'm a fan of Kessel's speed and wrist shot. He's also become a nice set up man, but his defense sucks. Most of the time. $6-$6.5-million per over 3-5 is far saner.

But then, we've already seen that rationality and sanity are not hallmarks of this new Leafs brass.

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#3 MaxPower417
September 30 2013, 06:10PM
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I disagree about it being a waste of time to have Rielly up and not playing every game. If he plays every other game or 2 out of every 3 games, he's still seeing regular action while getting more time with professional instruction and fitness training. Not to mention prolonged exposure to the professional game.

If they keep him up for the first 15 or 16 games, play him in 9 and then send him back to junior, he'll have almost two months with his junior team before the WJC.

If they keep him up for several months to reach that 9 games then that's a different story of course.

Here's a scary thought though. Carlyle sits Gardiner in every game Rielly plays because "you don't need that many PMD and Jake has to keep working on his defensive game." Ugh.

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#4 MaxPower417
September 30 2013, 06:05PM
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I've seen it posted in a couple places that Reilly is sitting for the first game and Gardiner is being paired with Ranger.

Not positive if that has been confirmed though.

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#5 MaxPower417
September 30 2013, 09:16PM
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@STAN

**** that! Get Kessel signed! I do NOT want to see the offer the Rangers would table for him in free agency.

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#7 STAN
October 01 2013, 01:51AM
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Wee hours of the Opening Day of the National Hockey League and insomnia is having a visit.

So. A few more thoughts on this new Leafs roster and the first two games.

Montreal has one of the top 5 goaltenders in the league in Carey Price and the reigning Best Defenceman in P.K. Subban. Markov is also mobile and up front they have some tough snipers. That said, the Leafs should match up well enough to even pull this one out. Look for Lupul, Kadri and Franson to make their marks.

Reimer will be fine in net, unless the Habs shooters aim high and find all that space he tends to leave while he's on his knees.

I'm still not sold on Paul Ranger. He has a tendency to try fancy moves that don't work and turns the puck over and/or gets caught out of position. Hopefully he'll be bailed out by Gardiner.

The Flyers on Wednesday could actually be easier. I look for a more convincing Leafs win.

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#8 Vik
October 01 2013, 01:43PM
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Cam Charron wrote:

I kinda do.

Would a bidding war with the rangers end cheap for either team?

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#9 Dennyboo
October 01 2013, 03:21PM
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The losses out weigh the gains in my view.The loss of Grabovski seems unnecessary to me. How much heart and skill can any team afford to lose at any time?

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