Following the Blue and White scrimmage that left all of Leafs Nation with that much needed shot of dopamine, their sights are now set for the opening day roster. The Maple Leafs announced today that they had made roster cuts in anticipation of the Season Opener on Wednesday against the Montreal Canadiens. Fans can try and micromanage and dissect every move that was made from the initial roster cuts but other then being time consuming and sort of expected, there isn’t much to analyze.
14 players were sent to the Toronto Marlies/sent down with intentions to be put on waivers today and none were as shocking as Pierre Engvall. Sure, the argument can be made that Timothy Lilegren can be considered a surprise but with the current upgraded D-core (Bogosian, Brodie, Lehtonen) but if he was not an obvious choice right from camp, it doesn’t hurt to send him down. As for Engvall, his situation is slightly more concerning.
Engvall signed an extension last year that would see him play in Toronto for another two seasons. At $1.25 million AAV, it is extremely surprising that Toronto would send Engvall down in his first year of his extension, although it was evident that he began trending downward to finish the season. Engvall scored only one goal in his final 30 games.
It is encouraging to see that Toronto has depth in training camp, which forced the hand of Leafs management to send Engvall down. This transaction can bode well for both parties as Engvall can have ample opportunity to get back on track with the Marlies while allowing players like Robertson and Barabanov opportunity with the big club. It is obvious that Toronto feels they have enough winger depth on their opening day roster and can succeed without Engvall that this move doesn’t really change much on the offensive side as Pierre would have slid in on the fourth line, more than likely.
Martin Marincin was also a part of the “cut” list, however he will probably remain with the club even after going through waivers. This isn’t the first time Marincin has been placed on waivers and probably won’t be the last. The reason this move is interesting is because it insinuates that Toronto trusts the abilities of Rasumus Sandin and newly acquired Mikko Lehtonen which were major question marks heading into this season.
Following all of these transactions, the final roster is beginning to take shape and although there are still 5 more moves to be made, it is encouraging to see the Maple Leafs take steps in the right direction so early in the season. Toronto will eventually have to get down to 21 players to abide by salary cap restrictions, thus forcing some talented players onto the taxi squad. I do believe that Engvall will end up back in that rotational squad and some surprise candidates like Travis Boyd may also get a chance. This taxi squad must include a third goalie so it seems likely Aaron Dell will claim that role. I don’t expect Toronto to make any more drastic changes to the roster between now and opening day other than some obvious cuts that inevitably need to happen.