The Toronto Maple Leafs have duped us again.
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) December 18, 2019
When the team recalled Timothy Liljegren earlier this week, there was much excitement for his first career National Hockey League game. But that will now have to wait. Both Liljegren and Martin Marincin got the call after Tyson Barrie’s availability came into question ahead of last night’s game against Buffalo, and Adam Brooks was brought up after Trevor Moore had an unexpected setback in his return from a shoulder injury.
Ultimately, Barrie playing against Buffalo — and playing quite well, I might add — meant that Liljegren and Marincin had to be returned from their Emergency Loan. As for Brooks, his stay in the press box earned him a little NHL money as a reward for his play in the AHL, recording 7 goals and 7 assists in 18 games. His return to the Marlies is a positive sign for Moore, who has an opportunity to play in the top 9 while Andreas Johnsson is out.
Toronto Marlies Again
All three players have been with the Marlies for at least the past three seasons, and the Marlies will be glad to add three Calder Cup champions back to their roster. This is especially true for Marincin, who has been a great AHL contributor, while fellow LHD Rasmus Sandin is on loan to Sweden for the World Junior tournament.
In Marincin’s absence, the Marlies have had more ice time for 22-year-old, 6’4″ Latvian LHD Kristians Rubins, who has recorded 7 points in 18 games on an AHL contract. He may be a player to watch considering the success of Justin Holl, who graduated from ECHL to NHL through development with the Marlies.
This transaction brings the Leafs roster back down to 20, with the impending return of Trevor Moore making it 21. While Johnsson is on LTIR, the Leafs have cap space to carry 23 skaters, but some considerations need to be made for the Holiday Roster Freeze beginning December 19.
Players recalled after December 11th can still be sent down until December 23rd, but only if they do not require waivers. As Marincin will require waivers after one more day on regular recall, it is wise to hold him on the Marlies during the freeze in order to have roster flexibility.
That leaves the Leafs with six defencemen, three of which appear to be less than 100%. It would not surprise me to see another defenceman recalled before one of their two home and homes during the freeze.
For forwards, Pierre Engvall seems to be in the most uncertain position, as his cap hit and the fact that he is waiver exempt make him the easiest player to send down when Johnsson is healthy. The difficulty is that he’s been so effective with his speed and versatility in the Leafs lineup. His performance could alter the roster when Johnsson is ready to return.
Overall, the Leafs familiarizing two more prospects with the NHL routine means they have two more players they are comfortable recalling. From a fan perspective it would be nice to see them play, but we can settle for knowing they are getting close.