The Toronto Maple Leafs made some long-awaited cuts on Saturday morning, trimming their roster to 29 players. The roster now consists of 18 forwards, nine defensemen and two goaltenders. This leaves six more cuts they have to make before 5 pm on October 11.
Raman Hrabarenka’s ties to Lou Lamoriello were not enough to win him a spot on the roster as he was released from his professional tryout (PTO).The Leafs sent the remaining 18 players to the Toronto Marlies. The forwards are Rich Clune, Frederik Gauthier, Andreas Johnsson, Kasperi Kapanen, Brendan Leipsic, Tobias Lindberg, Trevor Moore, Kerby Rychel, Colin Smith and Dmytro Timashov.
The cuts on defense consist of Nikolas Baudrillard, Travis Dermott, Justin Holl, Viktor Loov, Andrew Nielsen and Rinat Valiev. The goalies cut were Garret Sparks and Antoine Bibeau.
The Big Names
Let’s look at some of the more interesting names on the list. Let’s start with the forwards. Gauthier is an interesting case. If it weren’t for the sudden depth the Leafs have at center, Gauthier might have been a reliable fourth-line center. With Nazem Kadri, Tyler Bozak, Auston Matthews, Peter Holland and Brooks Laich all on the team, it was an uphill climb for any other center to make the opening night roster. As it stands, if there is an injury or trade, Gauthier has placed himself in a position to be one of the first call-ups.
Rychel will definitely be motivated to play at a high level to get back to the NHL as he was disappointed with the lack of opportunities he had in Columbus. With the movement that’s due to happen with the Leafs this season, Rychel needs to play well to earn those opportunities with the Leafs.
Timashov will be one to watch if he indeed sticks with the Marlies. After helping bring the Quebec Remparts to the Memorial Cup tournament in 2015, he was traded to the Shawinigan Cataractes. He had 32 points in 28 games with Shawinigan and a total of 85 points in 57 games last season. He followed that up with 28 points in 21 playoff games. Can he take the next step with the Marlies?
Two names on the defensive side stand out — Dermott and Nielsen. Both drafted in 2015, they had some good seasons in the CHL last season. Dermott had six goals and 43 points in 51 games with the Erie Otters. He joined the Marlies after the Otters’ season ended and managed to get into one playoff game. Nielsen played with the Lethbridge Hurricanes of the WHL. He had 18 goals and 70 points in 71 games. These two are the next line of defensive prospects and could push for a roster spot next season.
29 players left. Few forwards, couple defenders to be cut by Wednesday to reach 23. pic.twitter.com/FVlsv1LSH5
— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) October 8, 2016
With six cuts left to go, the next few days will be interesting. Will the Leafs cut a player like Josh Leivo, who has to go through waivers, over Connor Brown? There are certain to be some tough decisions left to be made.