Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Voit, Dahlstrom, Clifford, Biega & Boxing Day

In this somewhat odd edition of Toronto Maple Leafs News & Rumors, I’d like to start with the good news that those Maple Leafs’ coaches, players, and support staff who had entered the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol and had been left in Vancouver after the rest of the team departed were all flown home. They are self-isolating in their own homes. 

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That’s good news, especially at Christmas. While I don’t know the family situations of these 11 men or women (I heard that seven players, two coaches, and two members of the team’s support staff were in the protocol). I know that those who have families would want to be around them at Christmas – even if they were self-isolating. 

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I don’t know the support staff; however, the nine Maple Leafs’ coaches and players under COVID-19 protocols were coaches Sheldon Keefe and Spencer Carbery. The players were goalie Jack Campbell, defensemen T.J. Brodie and Travis Dermott, and forwards John Tavares, Jason Spezza, Wayne Simmonds, and Alex Kerfoot.

Jason Spezza Toronto Maple Leafs
Jason Spezza, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In this post, I’ll try to help Maple Leafs’ fans stay more up-to-date with other news surrounding the team. 

Item One: NHL Shuts Down Games and Team Practices Until December 26

As I last heard it, two games remained scheduled for today – the Washington Capitals were playing at the Philadelphia Flyers and the Tampa Bay Lighting were playing the Golden Knights in Las Vegas. After these games, the NHL announced all games and team “activities” had been postponed until after the NHL’s Christmas break. 

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On the weekend, the NHL had postponed the 12 remaining cross-border games between December 20-23. That means that none of the seven Canadian-based NHL teams will play again until December 27.

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In a public statement, the NHL announced that “A decision on when the Maple Leafs’ training facilities will re-open will be made by the League and the NHLPA in the coming days. The League is in the process of reviewing and revising the Maple Leafs’ regular-season schedule.” 

I’ll share more news as I get it.

Item Two: Maple Leafs’ Sign Ty Voit to Entry-Level Contract

The Maple Leafs announced on Sunday that they had signed Ty Voit to a three-year, entry-level contract. The Maple Leafs had chosen Voit during the fifth round (153rd overall) of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. This season, Voit has played with the OHL’s Sarnia Sting and has scored eight goals and added 21 assists (for 29 points) in 24 games. 

The 18-year-old Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, native obviously remains a few seasons away from challenging for a roster spot. However, he’s obviously shown enough that the organization is going to keep him around.

Item Three: Carl Dahlstrom, Kyle Clifford & Alex Biega Re-Assigned to Toronto Marlies

In three recent moves, the Maple Leafs re-assigned three veteran NHL players – Carl Dahlstrom, Kyle Clifford, and Alex Biega – back to the AHL’s Toronto Marlies. During their tenure with the Maple Leafs, only Clifford saw game action. The other two players were injury or COVID-19 call-ups.

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Dahlstrom’s an interesting case. When the Maple Leafs went down a number of forwards, they called him up. Although the game with the Vancouver Canucks was eventually postponed, one pre-game announcement had Dahlstrom penciled in as a fourth-line winger. But, he never had the chance to make his Maple Leafs debut before the team shut down for the holiday break. 

Clifford, who I’ve speculated the Maple Leafs signed as an early trade deadline acquisition, did get some playing time with the Maple Leafs. In his six games with the club, he registered two assists and 14 hits in limited action.

Kyle Clifford St. Louis Blues
Kyle Clifford, when he played for the St. Louis Blues (Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Biega, who was a veteran defenseman that looked good during the preseason with the team, was also re-assigned to the Marlies. He had been brought in as an injury replacement on the team’s western road trip that got only saw them play the game in Edmonton against the Oilers. Like Clifford, Biega might be an extra body the Maple Leafs brought in for the playoffs.

What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?

The answer to the question “What’s next for the Maple Leafs?” is Christmas and resting or self-isolating until the virus has had its run. The plans right now call for all NHL players to report back to their team’s on December 26 – which is a day earlier than had been planned – for testing. 

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December 26 is Boxing Day in Canada, but it’s also a key date for the NHL. Right now, I’ve read that 15 percent of the more than 700 NHL players were under COVID-19 protocol. Because the omicron variant is more asymptomatic than other variants, it’s tougher to know if it’s present. After the tests on December 26, the NHL will have a better handle on the number of NHL players who have tested positive for the virus.