In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs’ News & Rumors, I share some of the recent player movements after the team’s 6-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night. Chief among the moves, Nick Robertson and his former Peterborough Petes’ line-mate Semyon Der-Arguchintsev might get a chance to perform past magic with the team’s AHL affiliate Toronto Marlies.
There with the Marlies they will be joined by former PTO Josh Ho-Sang, who came into camp, worked hard, and showed the offensive upside everyone knew he had. Ho-Sang was signed to an AHL contract and, as a result, didn’t have to pass through waivers.
In other news, Teemu Kivihalme passed through waivers and goalie Michael Hutchinson was added to the waiver list. Finally, I’ll share the news that Travis Dermott’s calf injury isn’t going to hamper his regular-season play.
Item One: Nick Robertson Reassigned to the AHL’s Marlies
Nick Robertson is probably recognized as the Maple Leafs’ best organizational prospect. However, that fact didn’t save him from being reassigned to the AHL’s Marlies after last night’s game. Perhaps the coaching staff and front office deemed he wasn’t yet ready for prime NHL roster time and would be able to hone his game playing regularly at the AHL level. On the other hand, perhaps the explanation is that he was a victim of the fact that he was waiver exempt and it was the smartest move for the team to make.
Whatever the reason, Robertson came up short in his quest to make the Maple Leafs’ opening game roster, it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see him get another shot with the team later in the season. That all depends on what happens this regular season, especially with the team’s injury situation. In the meantime, it will be fun to see the partnerships he can create on what looks to be a stacked Marlies’ team.
Item Two: Semyon Der-Arguchintsev Also Sent to the AHL
Similar to Robertson, Semyon Der-Arguchintsev was reassigned to the AHL’s Marlies after scoring a goal in Tuesday’s preseason game victory over the Montreal Canadiens. Even with that goal, Der-Arguchintsev was bound for the Marlies. If he plays well at the AHL level, also like Robertson there’s a chance he’ll be called up to the big club during the regular season.
Item Three: Teemu Kivihalme Clears Waivers
Also joining Robertson and Der-Arguchintsev on the Marlies’ roster will be 26-year-old left-shot defenseman Teemu Kivihalme. Kivihalme cleared waivers and was assigned to the Marlies on Tuesday. Kivihalme, who was born in Minnesota to a Finish father and an American mother, has played the last two seasons with the Marlies. Prior to that, he played three years at Colorado College and then headed to Sweden to play two seasons there.
The expectation is that Kivihalme will have a chance to gain a spot on the Marlies’ top defensive pairing.
Item Four: Josh Ho-Sang Signs AHL Contract
After his well-known history of troubles, Josh Ho-Sang had about as good a training camp as he could have. The result is that he earned the opportunity to sign on with the Maple Leafs’ organization and begin what’s likely to be his climb through the ranks to the Maple Leafs’ roster. At least, that’s the organization’s hope.
Ho-Sang showed flashes of what made him a first-round NHL draft choice, but there remain aspects of his game he needs to work on. He’ll get that chance with the Marlies. On Tuesday, he signed an AHL minor-league contract.
You have to think that, in addition to working on his game, the organization will keep a watchful eye on his attitude. He’s not been the easiest player to work with. According to all reports, none of that past surfaced during training camp and before and Ho-Sang sang the praises of the Maple Leafs’ organization for working hard to get to know him. That process will continue.
Ho-Sang will likely play a scoring role with the Marlies who, as I noted before, could become a very strong team this season.
Item Five: Michael Hutchinson Waived by Maple Leafs
Michael Hutchinson was waived by Toronto on Tuesday. Although there are Maple Leafs’ fans who don’t value Hutchinson as an NHL goalie, he’s been a great addition to the organization. Although every once in a while he has a poor outing, mostly he gives the team a chance to win when he plays.
For example, Hutchinson played well in the limited action he saw last season, posting a 4-2-1 record, a goals-against-average of 2.42, and a save percentage of .919 in eight Maple Leafs games. It isn’t out of the realm of possibility that a team that needs a solid backup goalie might pick him off waivers. If he passes through, he will be headed to the Marlies. From there he’ll provide insurance as the Maple Leafs’ third goalie on the organization’s depth chart.
What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?
The good news for the Maple Leafs is that the calf injury Travis Dermott suffered that pulled him from preseason games does not appear to be that serious. He was back at practice yesterday and seems to have missed games only as a precaution. He’s likely going to be a regular on the team’s third-pairing for the 2021-22 season and will have his best opportunity to move up the organization’s depth charts.
I know I’ll be watching the waiver wire to see who might have gotten claimed or who will pass through. The team looks strong and, as head coach Sheldon Keefe noted after last night’s game, the depth on this team is solid.
The question is how that depth will play out in wins and losses as the team moves through the regular season.
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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