The Toronto Maple Leafs have assigned 21-year old defenceman Stuart Percy to the AHL.
Full stop. This isn’t the Leafs organization blaming a young defender with a bright future for their recent struggles. Take a deep breath.
Percy played pretty well in his seven game stint, becoming the first rookie defenceman in Leafs history to record a point in his first three NHL games. Percy then went pointless in his next four games and watched his ice time slowly drop.
It’s not that he was playing poorly, but with Cody Franson returning from injury and Stephane Robidas trying to get his feet back under him, Percy struggled to maintain his ice time. It certainly didn’t feel like it, but after seven games Percy averaged ‘only’ 18:14 in ice time, making him the Leafs’ de facto sixth defenceman.
Seeing that the Leafs probably don’t want to play seven defenceman for the rest of the season, and that Percy was the only waiver-exempt blueliner on the roster, this isn’t a shocking move. And it’s a hell of a lot smarter than sitting him in the press box every other game.
Percy will join a crowded Marlies blueline, but will almost definitely play a major, all-purpose role in their top four. If the Leafs needed a recall a defenceman sometime in the near future, Percy would be the obvious choice to return, but Jeffler tells me that Viktor Loov and Tom Nilsson have looked pretty good for the Marlies as well.