He came to the team on injured reserve and appears ready to skate again. Waiving him gives the team a couple of options.
One option is that another team claims him and takes him off the books for Toronto. Even if he’s able to reclaim his status as a legitimate NHL regular, he’s going to be overpaid. His contract runs through next season at a $3.1 million cap hit.
The other option is that Cowen clears and they’re able to assign him to the Toronto Marlies of the AHL. This is probably the best situation for the Leafs, who aren’t in dire need of cap space. Sending him to the Marlies would give Cowen a chance to prove his value. Maybe a motivated Cowen in the AHL starts to bring something new to the table.
It also gives the Marlies some added depth for a deep playoff run that could benefit their most important prospects. Cowen should help improve that team, provide depth and give them some insurance against injuries.
Either way, the trade out of Ottawa isn’t offering the fresh start for Cowen that many predicted it would. The Leafs are going to make Cowen earn it if he wants to play for them in the NHL.
In other Leafs assignment news, the team has assigned Rich Clune to the Marlies.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie has suggested on Twitter that Toronto has no interest in retaining Cowen. Waiving him may have something to do with just parking him for the rest of the season so that he is healthy and eligible to be bought out in the summer.