Toronto Trims Roster by 11, Reassign Nylander and Kapanen

The Toronto Maple Leafs went pretty deep into camp with a fairly overflowing roster. 

We can only assume that the Leafs found it necessary to carry 35 players up until a few days before rosters have to be finalized because the team is made up of a handful of blue chip prospects, a few aging core pieces from the *last* rebuild, and about twelve nearly-identical, marginally useful depth pieces that needed to be sorted between and weeded through. 

Now, though, the roster has been trimmed down by eleven – and looking at who’s left (as well as who got cut) can tell us a lot about what the Leafs are trying to do next year. It’s our first real glance at the Shanaplan, and it’s not half bad.

The Cuts

Per the team’s official release, here’s who got cut from the roster: 

“The following five players will be placed on waivers for purpose of assignment to the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League: T.J. Brennan, Andrew Campbell, Sam Carrick, Matt Frattin and Byron Froese. 

The following 11 players will be assigned to the Toronto Marlies: Antoine Bibeau, Connor Brown, Rich Clune, Zach Hyman, Kasperi Kapanen, Viktor Loov, William Nylander, Stuart Percy, Nikita Soshnikov, Garret Sparks and Rinat Valiev. In addition, defenceman Petter Granberg will be designated as injured, non-roster.”

Seeing Campbell on waivers isn’t a huge surprise; seeing Carrick and Frattin is. When TLN did their projected season lineups, a number of staff members put Carrick as the team’s fourth line centre moving forwards; the 23 year old centre is coming off a season with good numbers in the AHL and some light scoring during his call-up to the NHL that suggested he could be useful down the line. It’s a surprise to see the team expose him to waivers instead of one of the older free agent pieces, but if they figure the free agents can pick up more in return at the deadline, that may have made the club willing to let go of some younger pieces for free in the interim. 

Some other surprising names on the cuts list, of course, are the prospsects who didn’t make it to the final starting lineup. 

William Nylander, Kasperi Kapanen, and Connor Brown are all names that have been tossed around as potentials to make the lineup this year; the trio could likely benefit from some winning with the Marlies, but they seem very close to being NHL ready (if they aren’t there already). This is a part of the decision that some may headily disagree with, but ultimately was a decision that had to be made one way or another. Whether the Leafs had kept the young players up or reassigned them, someone was going to be unhappy – the decision to send them down will at least get them heavy ice time in all situations with the Marlies, which is good news. 

The Keepers

oct4roster

None of the ‘maybe’ list that’s been tossed around – Mark Arcobello, Shawn Matthias, Nick Spaling, Richard Panik, Roman Polak, Stephane Robidas – were announced as waiver players, so the Leafs are apparently holding on to the group for now. The roster is currently sitting at 24 skaters, so one more still needs to go; it could be one of these, but at least we know it’s only going to be one. 

Another name that stayed up amidst debates of whether they’d remain in the starting lineup is Scott Harrington, who was recently acquired by the Leafs in the Phil Kessel trade. Whether he or TJ Brennan would get a spot on the team has been pretty hotly debated over the last few weeks; it looks like Harrington has won out, at least for now. 

The goaltenders that have been kept are no surprise, although the team still hasn’t really given any indication as to who will start the opening game – Bernier has been outperformed in pre-season by Reimer from a stats standpoint, but there’s still the question of whether that’s sustainable in the regular season as well. The team wants to go with the netminder who had a better training camp and pre-season showing, which means Reimer may open up the year – but the Leafs are never known for making the best choice in net, so we’ll have to see. 

Teams have until 5pm EST on Tuesday to finalize their rosters, meaning the Leafs need to make one more cut before then. 

  • FlareKnight

    Well I think this confirms that watching the Leafs this year will be a waste of time.

    Keep an eye on the standings for draft pick reasons and watch a team with actually exciting players like the Marlies.

    • Jeremy Ian

      Yeah, I tend to agree. But I’ll watch for the signs of development from a few players like Kadri, Holland, and Gardiner. Assuming Rielly is just an emerging stud.

      As for the rest, I am sure Babcock knows he’s grooming them for trades or needs some maturity on the bench.

      But isn’t this what we need for the long run? In that sense, I am ok with this. No more false hopes and short cuts.

      The player who’s going to be painful to watch this season is Bozak. What’s his role, now? Arcobello is at least as talented and plays harder. Spaling’s decent and cheap for the 4th line. I predict the need for a trade soon before Bozak’s value really sinks.

  • Brooksterman

    I think they’re trying to make a trade because whoever they’ve decided is the 24th player on the roster is a player they think will get claimed and thus they want to ensure they get an asset for them.

      • giproc

        I think Mathias and Polak are 100% safe. I just hope that Polak can improve his speed and reaction time to at least early-last-year levels.

        Mathias can be a dominate power forward with speed and size if he ever learns how to handle the puck like an NHLer.

        For me the last spot is between Panik and Arcobello. Robidas needs to be sent to the minors where he can school the youngins.

        Finding a couple of better waiver wire picks could make this all mute.

        • magesticRAGE

          I agree, Mathias is great down low and driving the net. Himself and JVR could be quite the force, especially with Kadri centering them. Even Kadri has improived with board play, not being pushed off the puck as easily. That is my first line.

          Unless Polak loses some of his beast (mass), I don’t see his footspeed increasing. I’m on the fence in keeping him, love the guy.

          I would trade Arcobello, send down Robidas, and bring up Loov. Loov deserves the call up. He’s on his last year of his ELC, and has played great in all 3 zones. I thought he played better than Harrington and Percy, more dynamic with the puck while positionally sound. My opinion.

  • STAN

    I’d take Arcobello over Panik any day. Sure, Panik had a few moments last season, but there’s was a good reason Yzerman (no dummy) set him free,

    I’m not sure what Robidas could teach young Marlies defencemen except tell them stories about his good old days when he was a somewhat effective defender.

    I agree with giproc that a couple of shrewd waiver wire pickups could set up a more intriguing early Leafs’ season and solidify the Marlies.

    Best show in TO this fall? The Blue Jays and Marlies.

    • Gary Empey

      Your opinion may be justified, however if you are correct it is bad news for the Leaf’s options on the trade market. The trade market for the Leafs is already at a low ebb. Sitting in 30th overall would pretty well make it non-existent, except for the young prospects on the Marlies.

      Looking back at the last three preseason losses at no time did the opposing team have the game in the bag. At no time could the opposition relax until the closing seconds. How this plays out and their ability to score goals under Babcock’s system, as the season progresses, will define the 2015/16 Leafs.

      Not every NHL player can or wants to play a two way game. How they get paid in the NHL normally hinges on their goals and assists total.

        • Gary Empey

          I see only two players on our roster right now that other teams would like to deal for. Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner. I think all the rest have been available. For example Dion Phaneuf could be traded if Toronto retained 5 or 6 million of his contract.

          We all know TLNers opinion of our veterans. Realistically do you think any other teams covet any of these guys. Last year we were able to move some players at the trade deadline. None of the players we sent turned out to be of any value to their new teams.

          I hope we can do it again this year but I am not as optimistic as some folks here. Seems like our best hope is there are enough injury plagued, desperate and foolish GMs that will make a bad trade again.

  • Gary Empey

    As I’ve said before no sense in getting the knickers tied into knots watching this A.H.L. team pretend it is an N.H.L. club. As Stan pointed out the perfect antidote for intelligent Toronto sports fans is to cheer on the Jays for the month of October and then enjoy the exciting, entertaining and improving Toronto Raptors who I had the pleasure to see in action tonight as they anihilated that inferior L.A. clip joint club with the decrepid old man Paul Pierce. Watch and enjoy the Raptors win more than 50 games this year. Forget your goofy analytic stats on the leafs and watch a Winner for a change.

  • Gary Empey

    why the hell did the leafs sign that campbell guy for 2 years only to waive him?! i hope someone claims him. 2 years for him is dumb. taking playing time away from prospects in the next 2 years…

      • SEER

        Yeah,,, you are right, Gary…. Just one year..

        Probably a good guy to call up for injury times, as the new managemnt don’t like the idea of doing the see-saw call-ups like Wilson and Carlyle always did.. He has lots of experience, already..

    • magesticRAGE

      Probably because he’s a depth option when Defensemen start being traded. He’ll come up and fill gaps. Doubt he has any trade value, just a body to fill a need. Regardless who gets traded, the Leafs need to ice a team.

  • Gary Empey

    i’m so disappointed robidas and polak weren’t waived. what a sad day. i also forgot matt frattin was still on this team. i thought he was reassigned during the first cuts lol whoops.

  • SEER

    Well… Looks like Robidas was just cut from the roster.., so that ends the speculations.. He wasn’t put on waivers, so he “might” be retiring..?

    LINK –> http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/maple-leafs-veteran-defenceman-stephane-robidas/

    Glad I gave this the title.. TRIBUTE/MONTAGE Thanks for everything you did in your career, Stephane..!

    STEPHANE ROBIDAS TRIBUTE/MONTAGE

    –> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1n_cGV_hDw

    EDIT: Looks like he’s just injured.., but I still think he will re-think coming back, after all the recent injuries he’s had..

  • SEER

    And I pretty well predicted that all of these guys would end up on the Marlies.. Why? Because the new Management stated that they wouldn’t rush development… Not one of these kids is 100% NHL ready…, “yet”…

    • Gary Empey

      We along with the other 29 NHL teams have been sending prospects to the AHL farm for years.

      Our forward and defensive prospects never ever seem to be ready. Kadri is the last time we seen a Marlie prospect make the Leaf line up in the last ten years, that I remember.

      I don’t see how so many people seem to think sending a prospect to the AHL for two or three years is some guarantee the player will develop into a star or at least a solid NHL player.

      Occasionally it has happened for a few NHL teams. It is usually defenceman and goalies that require that extra seasoning even though most never make the next step.