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.
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.
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.