In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs News & Rumors, I’ll take a look at some of the recent roster moves the team has made. I’ll also look at news about former Maple Leafs’ forward Patrick Marleau and his quest to break Gordie Howe’s record for the most NHL games played by a single player. Finally, I’ll speculate about whether Maple Leafs’ general manager Kyle Dubas will pull off a trade soon.
Item One: Maple Leafs Promote Alexander Barabanov to the Active Roster
On Monday, Alexander Barabanov was added to the team’s active roster. He had played 11 games with the Maple Leafs this season, but hadn’t scored a point. However, he’s had a good run with the AHL Toronto Marlies recently.
Barabanov hasn’t seen NHL game action since the beginning of March and if he stays with the team he’ll likely be a healthy scratch unless he needs to cover for an injury.
Item Two: Young Goalie Ian Scott Moved onto the Taxi Squad
Ian Scott was also moved from the AHL’s Marlies to the taxi squad on Monday. With starting goalie Frederik Andersen dealing with a lower-body injury, Scott will become insurance and add depth in net behind both Jack Campbell – who’ll likely be the designated starting goalie until Andersen recovers – and Michael Hutchinson.
Scott, who was once seen as the Maple Leafs’ goalie of the future, has had a tough time with injuries recently. He’s coming off hip surgery and hasn’t seen action since the 2018-19 season when he played in 49 games with WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders. That season he posted a record of 38-8-2 with a goals-against-average of 1.83 GAA and a save percentage of .932.
Back in 2019, the then 20-year-old Scott was rapidly moving up the Maple Leafs prospect pipeline and was preparing to take the AHL by storm after leading his Raiders to the WHL championship and being named the 2019 CHL goaltender of the year.
At that time Maple Leafs senior director of player development Scott Pellerin said about Scott: “If you look at his progression from when he was with the Marlies during the Calder Cup run and then to take that experience and have the season he just had, it’s unbelievable. Our goalie coaches have done a great job with him, and credit to Ian for the work he’s put in. I have no issues with his work ethic, that’s for sure.”
Sadly, almost two years later, there’s no telling how Scott might perform or whether he’ll ever live up to former expectations. The Maple Leafs’ hopes of a future great goaltending tandem with fellow prospect Joseph Woll have not panned out as expected. Obviously, however, the announcement yesterday suggests that Scott – game action or not – appears to be healthy enough to play if the team needs him. That, in itself, is good news.
Item Three: Frederik Andersen Unable to Practice on Monday
Frederik Andersen’s lower-body injury did not allow him to practice on Monday with the team. The word is also that he wasn’t expected on the ice today either and he’s listed as day-to-day.
Jack Campbell, who shutout the Calgary Flames on Saturday night, also wasn’t on the ice Monday; but, according to head coach Sheldon Keefe, he’s just on a rest day and was scheduled to be back at practice today.
Item Four: News on Patrick Marleau Chase of Gordie Howe’s Record
As people who have read my posts before know, I’m a huge Patrick Marleau fan. I believe he’s had a great positive impact on both Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, which will leave a lasting positive impact on the Maple Leafs this season and beyond. I’m rooting for him, and I’ve been watching his progress toward setting the all-time record for games played in the NHL.
This season Marleau returned home to San Jose after being a rental with the Pittsburgh Penguins and signed a one-year, $700,000 league-minimum contract with the Sharks in October. The Sharks had a tough 2019-20 season, and no one really thought they’d be contenders this season. However, few people realized they’d be as poor a team as they’ve turned out to be.
In addition, similar to his longtime team-mate Joe Thornton, who currently plays with the Maple Leafs, Marleau has never won a Stanley Cup. As noted earlier, last season Marleau became a rental player with the Penguins in another effort to chase down the Stanley Cup. That plan ultimately failed.
This season he’s been playing regularly with the Sharks, although he’s been producing much and really is a shell of the former player he once was. He now stands within 15 games of bettering Gordie Howe’s mark for the most NHL games (1,767) ever played by a single player.
Yesterday, NHL.com reported that Marleau would trade the chance to beat Howe’s record for another run at the Stanley Cup. Because he has no trade protection in his contract, there’s a slight chance a team could pick him up as a rental.
However, Maple Leaf fans who are interested should know he’s unlikely to become a rental on any Canadian team. This season’s Covid-19 protocol would necessitate him staying in quarantine for two weeks; and, as a result, it would be a long shot if a Canadian team picked him up.
Given his age and his production, if he moved to a contender he’d likely be placed on that team’s taxi squad. Thus, he wouldn’t play the 15 games needed to break Howe’s record. In addition, his age and fading speed likely mean this is his last season. Should he stay home with the Sharks, unless he’s injured he’ll likely beat the record. He’d only have to play about half of the team’s final games.
Because I believed there might be other Maple Leafs’ fans who were also Marleau fans, I thought I’d point them toward the Marleau record watch.
What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?
It will be interesting to see if general manager Kyle Dubas pulls the string on a trade for a forward anytime soon. Some hockey insiders believe putting Travis Boyd on waivers was the first step in such a process because it would clear salary cap space and would allow, with some deft juggling of that space, Dubas to pull in a high-valued forward.
Such a trade would be something for fans to look forward to. If Dubas does trade for someone from an American team, he’d have to do it quickly. Maple Leafs’ fans might want to watch the trade wires closely over the next few days.
The Old Prof (Jim Parsons, Sr.) taught for more than 40 years in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta. He’s a Canadian boy, who has two degrees from the University of Kentucky and a doctorate from the University of Texas. He is now retired on Vancouver Island, where he lives with his family. His hobbies include playing with his hockey cards and simply being a sports fan – hockey, the Toronto Raptors, and CFL football (thinks Ricky Ray personifies how a professional athlete should act).
If you wonder why he doesn’t use his real name, it’s because his son – who’s also Jim Parsons – wrote for The Hockey Writers first and asked Jim Sr. to use another name so readers wouldn’t confuse their work.
Because Jim Sr. had worked in China, he adopted the Mandarin word for teacher (老師). The first character lǎo (老) means “old,” and the second character shī (師) means “teacher.” The literal translation of lǎoshī is “old teacher.” That became his pen name. Today, other than writing for The Hockey Writers, he teaches graduate students research design at several Canadian universities.
He looks forward to sharing his insights about the Toronto Maple Leafs and about how sports engages life more fully. His Twitter address is https://twitter.com/TheOldProf