Babcock’s Postgame Comments Hint at Opening Night Roster

Though we won’t likely hear of any official roster cuts until Sunday or Monday, Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock’s Saturday night postgame scrum with reports might have given us some insight into the opening night roster. 

From good guy Dave Alter at the National Post

Jake Gardiner and Morgan Rielly are locks to make the roster. Spending a majority of their time in the NHL as part of the same defensive pairing, Babcock intends to split them up when the regular season kicks off on Wednesday.
“Both can’t be beat down behind the opponents net all the time, if one is down there I don’t mind,” Babcock explained. “That’s where guys like (Matt) Hunwick, (Scott) Harrington and (Martin) Marincin come in.”

Besides Rielly and Gardiner being split up, which was the expected move and makes a lot of sense, it’s very interesting to hear Babcock single Harrington out specifically. Harrington has been solid all pre-season and appears to have the inside track on some of the Leafs’ veteran defenders to make the opening night roster.

Let’s play detective and assume that, along with Gardiner and Rielly, captain Dion Phaneuf is a lock to make the Leafs roster as well (bold, I know). If the players Babcock specifically named – Hunwick, Harrington and Marincin – are also going to make the opening night lineup, that likely leaves blueline spot remaining for either Roman Polak or Stephane Robidas.

Smart money would be on Polak to grab that last spot, which means the 38-year old Robidas could be Marlies-bound. Sporting a $3M cap hit, the Leafs would save $950k of that by sending Robidas to the AHL, effectively taking on a $2.05M cap penalty just to demote him. Robidas is signed through next season as well.

Harrington, 22, is in the final year of his entry-level contract that carries a $589k cap hit. The Kingston, Ontario native appeared in 10 games for the Penguins last season.

What do you think of Scott Harrington potentially making the team? Do you think it’s the right move to send down Stephane Robidas? Let us know in the comments below!

  • Gary Empey

    From Stephane Robidas’ point of view at age 38 this will likely be the last time in his life, he will make 3 million dollars a year. There is something sad about a 16 year NHL veteran ending his career being sent to the minors. At the same time both he and Leaf management agreed to a 3 year deal so both parties will have to live/deal with it.

  • Gary Empey

    Stephane Robidas will be useful on the Marlies helping the prospects.

    Lupul looks to be the Leafs most dangerous offensive player we have.

    I like M. Archebello’s game and I hope he makes the team, PA Paurenteau looked invisible except for the bad penalty he took behind the net.

    I think for once Reimer should get the benefit of the doubt and be the game one starter.

  • Gary Empey

    Contracts and Age and Loyalty all need to go out the window when determining roster spots. Yet because he’s been there before. Look how normal professions suffer from having old crusty teachers and nurses taking up spots over more capable and more skilled youth. The argument should only include the skill and performance, nothing more.

  • Gary Empey

    In my opinion I like what Scott Harrington will add to their defensive core. From what I have seen from him he has good mobility, is strong positionally, looks to be strong on the puck and makes good decision with the puck.Defensemen that can make tape to tape passes as well as those short ten foot passes to get you out of your end are critical to any team. Having said that Stuart Percey has similar strengths. Not convinced that Marincin is ready for NHL. I thought he was soft on the puck and appeared out of his league for the most part.

  • giproc

    Make Robidas a playing Assistant Coach for the Marlies. Heap praise and responsibility on him for helping nurture the Marlie D kids. Finishes off with dignity as a vital cog in the organization’s player development program.

    There’s no shame after a 16 year career in the NHL and close to 1000 games played.

  • Puck_Stops_Here

    I’d keep Robidas up. The Leafs aren’t going anywhere this year, and I’d feel bad knowing he only needs 60 or so more games to reach 1000 games played, then when he reaches it, send him down to the Marlies.