Hey, so. The Leafs are about to take on the Winnipeg Jets in about an hour, and the roster looks basically the same as it did last week. That’s fine (well, mostly), but it does pose a question for us on this fine Wednesday Night.
When the heck is Seth Griffith going to play? When would you put him into the lineup?
The Leafs claimed Griffith on October 11th in what many will agree was the most obvious move that anybody could make based upon the waiver wire. The 23-year-old put up gaudy numbers with the Providence Bruins last year and while he doesn’t have much of an NHL track record yet, the Leafs are in a position to ease him into big minutes and get him accustomed to the league.
But how much of that will come off the ice? There’s a train of thought that shouldn’t be discounted, and it’s the fact that the Leafs might want to get him accustomed to their systems first. This is something that Mike Babcock addressed earlier this week (transcription via MLHS):
That’s a good question. We’re going to try to give him an opportunity when the opportunity warrants itself. We’re in no rush. He’s another guy who’s got to get up to speed. Boston does a lot of the same things we do. I think that won’t be an issue for him, but the guys thought he was a player who might be able to help us, so eventually we’re going to have to find a way to get him in.
This wouldn’t be the first time the Leafs have left a waiver claim out of the lineup for a while. Frank Corrado didn’t play his first game with the big club until December 15th, at which point he, for the most part, became a regular player in the rotation. Now, Corrado’s situation was different, as he was still recovering from a shoulder injury suffered in the season prior, but the point remains that the Leafs aren’t scared to take their time.
This rings especially true when the team scores four goals in each of their first two games, and when his current competition appears to be Connor Brown, who has similar upside and waiver exemption, but also hasn’t done anything to warrant taking him out of the lineup.
Personally, I think it’s going to be hard to shake Griffith out of the group once he gets in, but it might take an injury to somebody else to do it. There’s no winger up front who seems to be a clear candidate to lose their spot out of merit, so it’ll have to come another way. This could mean he’ll be in by the end of the week, or he’ll be waiting months. Either way, I don’t think it’s really in his hands; he just needs to keep working and adjusting to make sure he still appears to be the best option available when the time comes.