Sunday, September 29, 2013
My Educated Guess on the Leafs Last Roster Spot
With today and tomorrow being the final days that NHL teams have to finalize their rosters and get under the salary cap for the start of the season, the Maple Leafs are closing in on an opening day lineup. With names like Bodie, Smith, Brennan, and Liles on the waiver wire and others like Broll and Percy being sent down directly to the Marlies, the Leafs have little house work left to do.
Aside from the guys who are virtual locks to make the team, there seem to be five players still in limbo vying for one roster spot (the Leafs have just a little over $1M in cap space right now). Those players are Jerry D'Amigo, Andrew MacWilliam, Josh Leivo, Jamie Devane, and Morgan Rielly.
Jerry D'Amigo: Sent down about a week ago, he was recalled for yesterday's final preseason game against the Detroit Red Wings. Still a solid bottom-six prospect, but given what he's done in the preseason so far and the fact that he was already cut once, I'd be surprised if he wasn't returned to the Marlies to start the year.
Andrew MacWilliam: He was also cut earlier in camp, but before he was cut and again last night against the Wings he impressed with his physical play. He doesn't have much of a pro hockey resume so I doubt the Leafs would want him serving as a spare defenseman when he could be logging big minutes in the AHL to start. I expect he'll be assigned to the Marlies but I also think we'll see him again with the Leafs later this year.
Josh Leivo: Another player who was cut earlier in camp, Leivo is one of the Leafs better prospects and might have top-six potential. He scored three goals in the preseason (including 2 last night), so he's no doubt made an impression on the Leafs but given the sort of roster Randy Carlyle likes to dress I don't think there's a role for him on this team yet. It is possible he survives final cuts because of his skillset but I wouldn't bet on it.
Jamie Devane and Morgan Rielly: My money is on this being the real battle for the final roster spot. Neither of these players were reassigned earlier in camp, and both have played in the majority of preseason games getting good long looks. Devane is a pure bottom-sixer and likely on the fourth line if he starts the season, but he's scored 2 goals in the preseason and impressed with his size. If he makes the team I can see him being reassigned to the Marlies as soon as Frazer McLaren comes back. Rielly has much more upside and skill, but he's pretty far down the depth chart on defense. Carlyle has tipped his hand a little bit a couple times during camp, once saying that if Rielly sticks around he'll likely play 12-15 minutes a night for 50 or 60 games, and last night saying he's "very close" to NHL ready. He might start the season with the Leafs, but given the sort of role he'd be playing and where Carlyle and Nonis seem to think he's at in his development, I'd be surprised he gets past the 9 game trial.
Verdict: While most people seem to think Rielly has made the team, my money is on Jamie Devane. If however Rielly has made the team, I don't expect him to last past his 9 game trial.
Posted by Shawn at 1:28 pm