Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Player Moves & Today’s New Line Combos

The Toronto Maple Leafs play at home on Wednesday against the Anaheim Ducks and then go out on the road for a game in Detroit against the Red Wings. After February 7, the team’s schedule gets really full as the Maple Leafs work to make up the postponed games. 

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The Ducks are currently tied for second in the Pacific Division with 47 points, but they also have played 43 games. Other Canadian teams in the Pacific are further down the point list, but they also have a number of games in hand. So, although they sit near the top of the Division now, they might be in trouble for gaining a playoff spot.

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In this edition of Maple Leafs News & Rumors, I’ll try to help Maple Leafs’ fans stay up-to-date with the player movements on the team. I’ll also share news about what might be a new line combination philosophy for the team.

Player Movement #1: The Maple Leafs Send Joey Anderson Back to the AHL

Toronto re-assigned Joey Anderson to its AHL affiliate Toronto Marlies earlier this morning. The 23-year-old Minnesota native will rejoin the Marlies where he’s had a successful 2021-22 season with 18 points in 23 games.

This season, Anderson has played four games with the Maple Leafs and has averaged 7:47 of ice time. To date this season, he hasn’t scored. Over his NHL career, he’s logged 57 games with five of them being played with the Maple Leafs. In those games, he’s scored eight goals and five assists for 13 points. His other games were with the New Jersey Devils.

He’s always on the cusp of breaking through at the NHL level but hasn’t to this point. When he was last sent down to the Marlies, he scored a hat trick. So he can put the puck into the net.

Player Movement #2: Erik Kallgren Moved Back to the AHL

On Saturday, the Maple Leafs recalled goalie Erik Kallgren and had placed him on the team’s taxi squad but did not promote him to the active roster. However, earlier this morning the team reassigned him to the AHL Marlies.

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The 25-year-old goalie hasn’t played in an NHL game yet. He was drafted in round seven (183rd overall) of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft by the Arizona Coyotes; however, he spent 10 seasons playing in different leagues in his home country of Sweden. 

Kallgren signed a two-year, two-way contract with the Maple Leafs’ organization in May and has logged a 9-6-0 record, with a goals-against-average of 2.92, and a save percentage of .911 for the AHL Marlies. 

Given his movement within the organization, there’s a chance that he’s passed the other goalie candidates in the organization and has become the team’s third-string goalie. Obviously, Jack Campbell and Petr Mrazek remain ahead of him.

Player Movement #3: Defenseman Carl Dahlstrom Also Reassigned to the Marlies

Carl Dahlstrom was brought up to the Maple Leafs’ active roster, played in the game against the New York Islanders, and was moved back to the Marlies earlier this morning. In his Maple Leafs’ debut, he played 12:30 minutes and looked pretty solid. He drew a penalty, but otherwise played some pretty quiet minutes. 

That’s not a bad audition for a depth defenseman. The 25-year-old Dahlstrom now rejoins the Marlies. There he’s registered 10 assists in 27 regular-season games.

On Saturday Alex Biega, who had played two games with the Maple Leafs, was re-assigned to the Marlies. Basically, Biega and Dahlstrom traded places for the Islanders’ game. It might be that the Maple Leafs are trying out both Biega and Dahlstrom to see who’ll have the stronger minutes at the NHL level. 

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Biega had a good first game but made a couple of errors against the New York Rangers. Both depth defensemen looked about equal to me in their time in the NHL, but neither seems likely to play anything other than on the team’s third-pairing should they return to the team’s active roster.

Player Movement #4: Ian Scott: Activated, sent down Saturday

Young goalie Ian Scott, who was on the injured reserve with an undisclosed injury, was activated from the IR and re-assigned to the AHL Saturday. I’m not sure what this move means, only that it’s likely Scott is making progress. 

Team Canada and Toronto Maple Leafs prospect goaltender Ian Scott
Team Canada and Toronto Maple Leafs prospect goaltender Ian Scott (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)

Scott’s been on the IR from the beginning of the season; however, but he started practicing late in December. The Marlies’ roster is getting loaded with goalies. It looks like the 23-year-old Scott will juggle playing time with Joseph Woll, Michael Hutchinson, and Kallgren.

Player Movement #5: Kyle Clifford Returns to the AHL

Kyle Clifford, who seems to be the team’s first option for a call up, was re-assigned to the Marlies on Saturday so that Anderson could take his spot in the lineup. Now, with Anderson moved back to the Marlies, it’s likely Clifford will regain his fourth line spot for Wednesday’s game against the Ducks. 

Moving Clifford around and up and down is one small way the organization can tweak its salary cap situation on a day-to-day basis.

What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?

In the discussion section of an earlier post, reader afp1961 shared that today’s practice lines had a very different look to them. First, Ondrej Kase was moved to the top line to play beside Michael Bunting and Auston Matthews. Mitch Marner dropped to the second line to play with John Tavares and Ilya Mikheyev, who was moved up from the third line. 

Ilya Mikheyev Toronto Maple Leafs
Ilya Mikheyev, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

That means that the third line is an interesting blend of William Nylander, David Kampf, and Alex Kerfoot. Dropping Nylander to the third line offers that line an offensive jump, but what happens to the concept of the third line being a shutdown line?  

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The moves are interesting, and it will be fun to see what becomes of this different philosophy of player deployment. It’s nice to have such options.