The preseason is over, the final roster has been submitted, and all that’s left to do is to take a big sip of coffee and take a look at who’s on waivers today…
Waivers 30/09/2019 pic.twitter.com/PaJP7HOciu
— Renaud Lavoie (@renlavoietva) September 30, 2019
Waivers 2/2 pic.twitter.com/C0CWauqHQ9
— Renaud Lavoie (@renlavoietva) September 30, 2019
*spits coffee everywhere* HOLY POOP!!! I WANT TO CLAIM THAT GUY!!!
Alas, I am truly part of the waivers problem. I can’t help ignoring the work that these teams have been putting in for the past few weeks, and how carefully constructed the roster has become, and instead I want to chase the possibility that one of these players deemed not good enough by a team that has been working with them for three weeks would be a notable upgrade for the Leafs, a team whose depth we’ve been celebrating throughout September.
Who’s worth taking?
Let’s start with the most obvious one, and that’s Daniel Sprong. The issue with Sprong seems to be that he’s one dimensional and can’t really do anything beyond scoring goals. Imagine that as his problem. He’s only quite gifted at offense. He’s a 22 year old 14 goal scorer who would provide depth to the top six in the event of injury or in the event of a head coach believing that William Nylander is a center. As well as he’d add additional fire power to a bottom six that could use another offensive weapon until Hyman returns.
If Sprong does well, he potentially frees up a more expensive forward like Johnsson or Kapanen to moved at a later date as well for a needed upgrade, but I certainly know you don’t want to be thinking about that right now, so let’s forget I said that. All the players you love will be here forever and your pets will never die.
The other name that absolutely falls into the worth taking category is Eric Comrie. He’d be an absolute gamble having only played 5 NHL games, but as far as a swing for the fences backup goaltending option, he’d be an excellent fit. There’s also a pretty good chance that Michael Hutchinson would go unclaimed if the Leafs sent him down to the Marlies. This is the third post in a week where I’ve mentioned that the Leafs should consider Comrie, so we won’t dwell on him too much.
Additionally there are other interesting names, like Steve Santini, a young-ishright handed defenseman who played solid minutes for the Devils last year when he was in the lineup. He’d potentially be an upgrade on Ceci and perhaps a better fit than Marincin or Holl on the third pairing, but he’s a little too pricey for the Leafs to add outright and frankly isn’t that good. It’s definitely interesting he was waived though considering he was part of the Subban deal.
There’s Curtis Lazar, who really shouldn’t be claimed by anyone, and I only note him because of my unconditional love of him. Bringing in Lazar would only serve to make me happy, not to improve the Leafs. Still Dubas should consider it.
Finally there’s Josh Ho-Sang, who needs to be mentioned here despite the fact I’m not as convinced as many others that he’s a good idea.
Ho-Sang is a player who absolutely deserves a shot with another organization before moving on from the NHL. There’s a very good chance that the Islanders weren’t a good fit for him and especially now with Trotz and Lamoriello running the show, he doesn’t seem like a fit. That said, it’s hard to imagine that he’d be a fit with Mike Babcock either. It’s also entirely possible that a player who had a negative reputation in the OHL when he played there won’t be given a chance by a GM who was an OHL GM at the time when Ho-Sang played. I don’t want to put this entirely on Babcock, it’s quite likely Dubas isn’t a fan either.
As much as I personally want to see Ho-Sang land on his feet because the game needs interesting players, I don’t see it being the Leafs, and frankly his NHL and AHL numbers to date don’t warrant a top contending team like the Leafs taking a chance on him. Unfortunately the bottom teams remain the bottom teams because they don’t look untapped skill when its available to them for free.
Don’t. Fall. In. Love.
The Leafs sit at 25th for waivers priority and that’s a pretty good reason to never be too excited about good players on waivers. While history has taught us that pretty much everyone while go through unclaimed, in the event that players do have some interest from other teams, they aren’t going to make it to the team with the 25th overall claim.
Additionally, the Leafs are cash poor and roster spot poor. They can’t add anyone without sending someone down, and besides Liljegren, Sandin, and Mikheyev, the rest of the Leafs roster requires waivers. Liljegren would be the easiest choice for a demotion, but wouldn’t you rather see what Timothy Liljegren could do as a Leaf rather than Josh Ho-Sang?
Finally, the Leafs are sitting at 48 contracts, and is the time when they want to burn through one of those remaining two spaces. I’d argue for Sprong, he’s worth all the trouble, and with Comrie it might be the best opportunity to upgrade their goaltending situation, but otherwise it’s probably a good idea to pass.
What about the Leafs guys getting claimed?
You could make a case for Nic Petan, Kenny Agostino, or Kevin Gravel getting claimed, and if that happens, well, I guess you just kind of shrug your shoulders and enjoy the contract spaces opening up. There isn’t any need to worry about putting in a claim for someone because losing one of the players would create a deficit on the Marlies, especially with the addition of Matt Read to the Marlies and the strong performance from Hudson Elynuik in training camp. The Marlies will be just fine, and with players like Aberg, Korshkov, and Engvall available as future call-ups, the Leafs still have good depth to support their needs from the Marlies.
The way that the camp competition was built it seemed that Dubas signed a number of veteran bubble players with the foreknowledge that some of them may be claimed off waivers and it wouldn’t be the end of the world.
And the moral of the story is…
Don’t fall in love. Don’t fall in love with Nic Petan and all the potential you believed he had. Remember he was acquired for Par Lindholm.
Don’t fall in love with the idea that you can change Josh Ho-Sang, because ultimately you’d be relying on Mike Babcock to change him and can you honestly see that playing out well?
Don’t fall in love with Daniel Sprong, because there is no good reason that he should make it past the Senators on the waivers priority list.
Don’t fall in love with NHL GMs making transactions because it just doesn’t happen. They don’t want to be interesting.