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History says don’t expect the holiday roster freeze to mean much for the Maple Leafs

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Photo credit:Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Steitzer
2 months ago
Ah yes, the holiday roster freeze. It seems like a mini-trade deadline only it absolutely isn’t. It’s coming up December 20th and in a league of uninteresting GMs this time of year is when they truly put a stamp on their boring qualities. And honestly, fair enough. The last thing players need is to have their short holiday hiatus and time with family spent figuring out the logistics of moving across the continent. Still, it’s fun to pretend this year could be different considering half the league is looking to add and half the league is looking to sell, but history says this is how it plays out:

Leafs early December transaction history

December 2022: Denis Malgin for Dryden Hunt
Honestly the Malgin for Hunt trade might be the most significant Holiday Roster Freeze move the Leafs have completed in over twenty years. Malgin was certainly looking like a decent enough player but he wasn’t a fit for what the Leafs wanted in their bottom six. I guess you could say Dryden Hunt wasn’t what they wanted either as Kyle Dubas sent him over to Brad Treliving in Calgary at the trade deadline.
The other move of significance in December was that Axel Rindell’s contract was terminated freeing up another contract for the Leafs and giving Rindell the chance to return to Finland.
December 2021: Kurtis Gabriel for Chad Krys
Dubas probably has been one of the more active GMs in the past couple of Decembers and taking a chance on Chad Krys while trying to find NHL icetime for Kurtis Gabriel wasn’t a bad move. The Leafs also terminated the contract of Kirill Semyonov which is still a head scratcher for me but maybe I’m the only one who thought he was good.
December 2020: Kalle Kossila waived
Here’s a guy.
December 2019: Giovanni Fiore signed to a Marlies ATO
Mamma Mia! What a blockbuster.
Nic Petan and Nick Shore were also waived.
December 2018: Adam Cracknell/Jeff Glass traded for Steve Oleksy and Josh Leivo traded for Michael Carcone
The fact that the Glass and Cracknell were done as separate trades (future considerations were also involved) means that this was actually a three trade month for Kyle Dubas & Co. I don’t think Steve Oleksy and Michael Carcone make this December memorable or exciting in any way, but I’m sure you can still find some Leafs fans upset that Toronto gave up on Josh Leivo too early.
Tom Sestito and Michael Gartieg were also signed to Marlies ATOs if that Steve Oleksy trade wasn’t thrilling enough for you.
December 2017: Nada
At least it was honest.
December 2016: Peter Holland traded for a sixth round pick
Pretty sure at the time I wanted to make a case for Peter Holland being worth far more than a 6th round pick. I’d like to think I was acting that way because it was December and all there was to do was for hockey conversation was debating the value of Peter Holland.
Karri Ramo also signed to a PTO and Jhonas Enroth waived in what was another interesting goaltender situation for the Leafs.
December 2015: Ray Emery signed to a PTO
I barely remember this PTO but think it could have been a lot of fun if it had worked out.
December 2014: Brandon Kozun waived
Kozun was a fun player that you wanted to believe in so I’m sure this waivers moment was heartbreaking.
December 2013: Jarrod Smithson waived
Jarrod Smithson was decidedly less fun than Brandon Kozun. This waivers moment probably felt like it was a long time coming.
In the past 30 years the most significant move Toronto has made was trading Dmitri Khristich for a third that the Leafs used to draft Brendan Bell. 
Now here’s what the Leafs current GM has done in December pre-Holiday Roster Freeze:

Treliving’s Transactions

December 2022: Kevin Rooney waived
December 2019: Austin Czarnik waived
December 2018: A number of Stockton Heat ATOs
December 2015: Mads Eller signs with Stockton Heat
Okay, so that’s pretty underwhelming too. It only takes one trade to break the pattern but when the entirety of Treliving’s time as a GM and the past 30+ years of Leafs seasons say that nothing is going to happen maybe we need to sit the Holiday Roster Freeze out and wait for the fun to start in the new year.
 
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