Hockey is finally back today and with it comes the final adjustments to the rosters for opening night. This year is a little bit different (not just because no one is allowed to attend the games live) as the NHL has implemented a taxi squad rule for the 2021 season to help fringe players stay on the ice and remain with the team instead of being stuck in hockey limbo.
It took them a while but the Leafs appear to have put together their taxi squad for the beginning of the campaign.
Toronto Maple #Leafs have opted to start with a 5 player taxi squad:
— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) January 13, 2021
Upon first glance, there aren’t a whole lot of surprises when it comes to who’s on the list at the start of 2021. @Nick Robertson, @Mikko Lehtonen, and @Rasmus Sandin are all good enough to play in the Leafs lineup right away and them not being in the active lineup is a byproduct of simply having too many quality players. @Adam Brooks and @Travis Boyd both had impressive showings in the scrimmage last Saturday which might have been enough to earn them a spot on the taxi squad.
One notable name not there is @Aaron Dell whom the Leafs are keeping on their main roster instead of trying to put him on waivers. Upper management must have recognized the value of having multiple options in the net since two goalies were claimed off waivers yesterday. Because Dell surely would have been snagged up by another team, he will likely stay on the active roster for the first part of the campaign before putting him on the taxi squad once the other teams sort out their goaltending depth.
Some notable names that are not on the taxi squad include @Martin Marincin, @Calle Rosen, and @Kenny Agostino. Although they each have NHL experience under their belt, all three players were likely not going to get much playing time unless there are a plethora of injuries as the season progresses. Judging by the fact that none of them were claimed by other teams, it’s safe to assume they will be spending the majority of the year with the Marlies. Or Marincin gets called up and continues to remain an inevitability for each passing season.
With the taxi squad set up, here’s what the Leafs opening night lineup is projected to look like when they take on the Montreal Canadiens:
The start of the hockey season cannot come fast enough.