The Leafs have trimmed their preseason roster again, sending Luca Caputi, Joe Colborne, Ryan Hamilton, Marcel Mueller, Kenny Ryan, Greg Scott, Mike Zigomanis, Jesse Blacker, Jeff Finger, Simon Gysbers, Korbinian Holzer, Juraj Mikus and Mark Owuya to the Marlies per James Mirtle.
Most of those guys barely played, but aside from just spreading the news far and wide there’s some interesting thoughts here. Caputi has to clear waivers and I wonder if he’s a young enough recognizable name to get snagged.
Joe Colborne had a decent training camp but sending him down is likely the right move. Hopefully he can have a big season in the AHL as he continues to make his case for a spot with the Leafs. Given that Tim Connolly is the Leafs first line center there’s a good chance Colborne will see duty between Lupul and Kessel when Connolly is hurt.
Names not included in these cuts are Nazem Kadri, Matt Frattin and Jake Gardiner. Kadri’s expected to make the team and Frattin has played well this preseason. It’ll be interesting to see the rest of the preseason games as the two of them are likely battling for a spot on the third line LW along with Bozak/Lombardi and Armstrong.
But that’s another wrinkle. David Shoalts says Matthew Lombardi is cleared for contact and will likely be on the opening night roster. If Lombardi is ready and Frattin is a potential NHLer this season does that give the Leafs the ability to run two scoring lines in their bottom six?
Kadri – Lombardi – Frattin could be your sheltered scoring with Brown – Bozak – Armstrong as your sheltered scoring with more of a forecheck. It’s an interesting thought for a Leafs team that got almost no production out of their bottom six last season.
Jake Gardiner sticking with the team and being described by Wilson as "our best defenseman" sets up another battle. The Leafs D in my mind shakes into two categories. The guys who have absolutely locked a job with the Leafs this year are: Dion Phaneuf, Luke Schenn, John-Michael Liles, and Cody Franson. The young bubble players are Carl Gunnarsson, Keith Aulie, Jake Gardiner. Mike Komisarek is the elephant in the room. Yesterday we found out per Shoalts that Komisarek might not have the NMC that Capgeek says he does.
A sidenote: this is not confirmation that you were right all along about Komisarek being sent to the Marlies. Shoalts’ article yesterday is a bombshell: it fundamentally changes the analysis of Mike Komisarek’s role with the Toronto Maple Leafs. If you thought Komisarek was going to the Marlies before reading Shoalts’ article you weren’t a visionary and you certainly have no place to say "I told you so" unless you had chatted with Brian Burke and in exchange for your wonderful company he gave you a peek at the actual paper contract.
Are the Leafs willing to stuff Komisarek in the AHL with Jeff Finger? That’s over $8M in salary down there along with Brian Burke having to swallow his pride and stuff one of his biggest UFA signings in the minors. I’m not sure I see this happening even though I’d really like to.
The other option is a trade. The idea that a cap floor team would want Komisarek doesn’t make a lot of sense. If they wanted to torch cap space they’d have made a splash in free agency. I can’t see any team wanting Komisarek for free even, I think the Leafs would have to be on the wrong end of a Lebda for Franson and Lombardi trade to move him.
As good as Gardiner has been I think the right thing to do for now is to send him to the Marlies and use Komisarek as the team’s seventh d-man in the press box. Gardiner can play big minutes in the AHL and work on running a power play at the professional level. After this season there’d only be two more years of Komisarek and he’d only be owed $7M total. I think burying him next summer is a much more palatable option, especially with Jeff Finger’s contract expiring after this season.