Sheldon Keefe says Fraser Minten has a chance to make the Maple Leafs

Photo credit:Steven Ellis/Daily Faceoff
Jon Steitzer
9 months ago
The Maple Leafs training camp has been long overdue for a bold proclamation that gets us debating that the roster might not be as set as we think it is. Sheldon Keefe gave us such a statement today regarding Fraser Minten:
(It’s worth noting that Easton Cowan wasn’t on the ice today and that odds some important context to who has a chance.)
The first thing that come to mind is that we all have a chance to make the Maple Leafs and Fraser Minten’s has always been a bit better than most. He is certainly a player that has done well in camp and taken some major steps forward but there is nothing saying whether that chance is good or not and if it is dependent on other players being injured or not.
The other thing that comes to mind is that this could be a very nice “attaboy” before the Leafs have to send Fraser on his merry way back to junior. Sheldon Keefe has shuffled William Nylander up to the wing next to John Tavares in order to take another look at Minten but taking another look is far from strong consideration for the roster. Now that all of that naysaying is out of the way, let’s take a look at why Fraser Minten is being considered.
Minten has had an excellent camp, he’s shown he can be that desired size and physicality down the middle that the Leafs have lacked for a number of years and hasn’t shown any difficulty keeping up with other preseason calibre lineups. Centre depth is something that the Leafs need to address and Minten is an intriguing way of doing so.
Minten also has nine game trial that the Leafs can exercise and see if his preseason results hold up in the regular season. And unlike previous years, the Leafs aren’t maxed out on contracts, so while Minten’s contract would slide from the 50 contract limit once he’s sent to junior, the Leafs have the space to fit him in now. His $845k cap hit isn’t as low as it could be but isn’t a hinderance to keeping him around either. In fact, it might help the Leafs push their salary number as close to the 83.5M cap ceiling that will enable them to maximize their LTIR space as well. While assigning Minten to the Marlies isn’t an option, the Leafs could non-roster Minten to gain a bit of flexibility as well.
In the unlikely event that Minten isn’t a Leaf this year that’s far from the end of the world. The initial aspirations for Fraser this year was that he’d be pushing for a spot on the Canadian World Junior team and that’s a fairly exciting consolation prize as well (not that he couldn’t still do that if the Leafs kept him for a bit.) Moreso the emergence of Minten as a near NHL ready player brings a bit more confidence to a Maple Leafs prospect pool that has been depleted in recent years and knowing that a capable centre is on his way is a nice silver lining from training camp.

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