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Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Doing the Marlies Shuffle: Petan Up, Liljegren Down

The Leafs aren’t wasting anytime when it comes to shuffling their roster and moves that were strongly hinted or outright promised last night are official today…

During his first period media availability Kyle Dubas stated that Liljegren would be returning to the Marlies and taking his rightful place as a top pairing defender on the farm team. It’s what’s best for his development, and no good comes from having him sit around the Leafs press box indefinitely. It’s best to level that someone with experience doing that like Justin Holl. Timothy Liljegren served his purpose by allowing the Leafs to maximize their LTIR cap space, and now most of the Marlies can be recalled without it interfering with the Leafs cap situation, with the exception of Egor Korshkov and Pierre Engvall who make slightly too much.

Additionally, Elliotte Friedman pointed out last night that Nic Petan was in the press box for the Leafs game last night and that created evidence based speculation that Petan was getting recalled. This really shouldn’t be a surprise as Petan had a solid training camp, and the Leafs 4th line situation is as murky as ever. Freddie Gauthier is scoring goals, Jason Spezza is getting scratched, and Nick Shore and Dmytro Timashov are also there and not really looking out of place. Throwing Petan into the mix will keep the situation pretty damned competitive and we’ll see how it all shake out.

More on Liljegren…

Liljegren wasn’t exactly a standout in training camp. He did well, he showed he could keep up, but ultimately if it was going to be Sandin, Marincin, and Holl winning the final defensive spots, it probably would have been Gravel still falling ahead of Liljegren on the pecking order. That’s fine. Liljegren has time, he’s young. He had a healthy camp and knows that he’ll play bigger minutes on the Marlies and given that Sandin played less than nine minutes last night, it’s proof that rotating into the lineup and getting a handful of shifts isn’t ideal. In fact, if this continues to be the trend for the first nine games for Sandin, the Leafs are probably best sending him back to the Marlies as well (although he looked damn good in those nine minutes.)

More on Petan…

Unlike Liljegren, Petan has done all can at the AHL level and there isn’t anything left for him there. He needs a chance to show he’s taken the next step and the only place he can do that is on the Leafs. Petan was 9th among Leafs forwards in 5v5 icetime in the preseason and wasn’t on the ice for a single goal against. Of those nine forwards, Petan had the best xGF% and the third best CF% behind Nylander and Johnsson. Acknowledging that preseason statistics are an absolutely ridiculous argument to be making, they at least hint at the kid deserving the same look that Gauthier, Timashov, Shore, and Spezza are getting.

How Petan fits into the Leafs roster will be interesting. I’m curious if Spezza and Petan will swap in as a more offensively minded duo for road games when Babcock can’t line match, or when he wants an offensive edge or will the rotations be handled on a bit more of a case by case basis? I’m also curious if this is me just prescribing Gauthier as part of who should be platooning on the fourth line or if it is a consideration being given since Petan, Spezza, and Shore are all equally capable of lining up at center.

No matter what, this was a thing that happened and we’ve acknowledged it. We’ll likely see practice lines in the near future for both the Leafs and Marlies that will tell us the full story.