The Toronto Maple Leafs are heading west. Tomorrow night, they’ll play the Edmonton Oilers. On Thursday, they’ll play the Calgary Flames. On Saturday, they head into Vancouver to play the Canucks. Then, they’ll cut south to play in Seattle against the Kraken for the first time.
As the team prepares for that trip, in this edition of Maple Leafs’ News & Rumors, I’ll share some of the player moves the team engaged in preparation for that trip. I’ll also share some of the other news that’s emerged from the team.
Item One: Kristians Rubins Was Reassigned to the Toronto Marlies
Kristians Rubins’ first audition with the Maple Leafs ended after he played three games. For an undrafted 24-year-old prospect, it seems he’s progressing nicely. He celebrated both his NHL debut on December 7 against the Columbus Blue Jackets and his 24th birthday in the game against the Chicago Blackhawks.
In total, Rubins averaged just under 12 minutes (11:45) of ice time per game. He didn’t record a point, but scoring isn’t what’s going to keep him in the NHL anyway. There’s no doubt Rubins will benefit from more time in the AHL; however, he has to be encouraged by his time on NHL ice.
While it isn’t clear if Rubins will be seen again this season with the Maple Leafs, there’s no doubt he’s earned another call-up if he’s needed. He might rejoin the big club after their four-game swing through the west; however, his time for extended NHL minutes is likely not going to be this season.
Item Two: Brett Seney Was Recalled by the Maple Leafs
On Sunday, the Maple Leafs recalled Brett Seney from the AHL Marlies. Since Seney passed through waivers in early October, he’s been playing with the Marlies. To date with the Maple Leafs’ affiliate, he’s scored 10 goals and six assists (for 16 points) in 19 games.
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Seney has 53 games of NHL experience, all with the New Jersey Devils. The last time he suited up for an NHL team was during the regular season was in 2019-20, when he played two games for the Devils. It’s not clear whether Seney will actually get on the ice during the upcoming road trip or if he’s just injury insurance.
However, bringing Seney on the trip might also mean that young Alex Steeves might get some shifts closer to the Maple Leafs’ top-six on this trip. Steeves is a bit miscast as a fourth-line player because of his high offensive skill set. I for one am hoping to see him play a game or two with top-six players just to see how he handles himself. He’s done well at every level he’s played at to date.
Item Three: Defenseman Carl Dahlstrom Recalled from the Marlies
Carl Dahlstrom was recalled from the Marlies to the big club for the four-game road trip. He’ll likely serve as a depth defenseman and injury replacement. Thus far with the Marlies this season, he’s scored four assists in 18 games. Like Seney, he hasn’t suited up in the NHL since the 2019-20 season, when he played 15 games with the Winnipeg Jets.
Item Four: Rodion Amirov Has Been a Healthy KHL Scratch
Sometimes things don’t work out as well as expected. That seems to be true with young Maple Leafs’ prospect Rodion Amirov. Amirov was chosen during the first round (15th overall) of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft and the organization is high on him. However, he’s not getting much ice time in the KHL with his Ufa Salavat Yulayev team.
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Although he’s playing his third season with the same team, he’s recently been a healthy scratch. That might be related to a shoulder injury that sidelined him in September. Whatever the reason, he hasn’t played at all during his last two games and saw only about a minute of action in the game previously. There’s little doubt the Maple Leafs’ organization would love to have the 20-year-old closer to Toronto to better control his playing time and progress.
It remains to be seen what will happen with the young prospect. It’s reported that Amirov’s loan to the KHL calls for him to stay the entire season in Russia.
What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?
As the season moves into the middle third, the case of defenseman Justin Holl remains up in the air. He only has one assist in the 23 games he’s played this season. That was on December 5 against the Jets. Last season, in 55 games he scored 20 points. The tone of Maple Leafs’ fans concerning Holl has been less than appreciative. Calls have been made for him to be traded, even if he generates little interest or any trade value.
It isn’t as if Holl is working hard. He’s been credited with 48 hits on the season and leads the team with 42 blocked shots. But it hasn’t in general been a successful season for the defenseman. Still, I can’t believe anything will happen with him this season.
The team likely will choose to keep an extra defenseman around just in case of an injury. That said, Holl’s situation will be interesting to watch.
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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