Here’s the thing, players shuffling back and forth between the Marlies and Leafs is pretty standard practice and doesn’t need to generate a whole lot of discussion. Last year if we say the tweet below, it would probably be met with a shoulder shrug and most of us would be able to carry on our day.
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) November 5, 2019
This year and current circumstances make this seemingly minor move much more significant.
#1. The Leafs are as healthy as they’ve been all season.
Full complement of players for #Leafs practice today, and everyone is wearing their normally coloured sweater.
This is a first.
— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) November 4, 2019
Yep. While Zach Hyman likely isn’t returning to action tonight, he’s healthy enough to lose the non-contact jersey and his return should be expected in the next few games. Hyman joining the lineup at the very least the means the Leafs would be at 24 players, and one would need to be sent down. Why recall someone just to put yourself over by one?
#2. The cap implications of Hyman returning don’t make it a simple drop one player.
The Leafs were already going to need to cut two players from their roster before Petan came up, and this bumps it up to three. Where the decision looked like one of Marincin, Spezza, and Shore was going to stay, it now gets a bit murkier by putting Petan back in the mix as well.
#3. Petan is straight up too good to be a Marlie
While Petan seems to be struggling at the NHL level, putting up 5 points in 2 games in the AHL is probably something that has helped him get a second (third) look from the Leafs. The fact that he can line up at any forward position and could be slotted into a top six role if needed makes him an ideal utility knife, except for if you are concerned about team toughness, then you are probably even more confused by the Petan recall.
So What’s Happening?
Well, there are four things that could be coming…
#1. Hyman is needing more time than originally thought, and while he can practice without a non-contact jersey, he’s still a ways away from playing and the Leafs want to get more of a look at Petan or showcase him for a trade.
#2. The Leafs have a trade lined up around a player(s) other than Petan, and as soon as that’s completed they’ll need Petan to be able to step into the lineup.
#3. The Leafs have decided that they want to waive Spezza, Shore, and Marincin, and like Petan best as their press box guy.
#4. We’re going to learn about another Leafs injury in the near future and Petan is up as their replacement.
Basically what the Petan recall equates to is a whole lot of speculation and I don’t know, but the interesting thing about the recall is that it means that something is up, and something interesting is likely to happen in the very near future.