The Toronto Maple Leafs have an expensive AHL roster, but that shouldn’t scare off veteran players.
In Elliotte Friedman’s 30 Thoughts post, he had a tidbit on, potentially, why Valterri Filppula didn’t want to come to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
19. Toronto was not on Filppula’s list of approved teams to be moved to. He could block 13. So Tampa would have needed extra permission to send him there. Veterans see Colin Greening, Brooks Laich and Milan Michalek in the AHL, so they believe it could happen to them too. Going into the last year of his contract, Filppula had to be aware of that.
This is nonsense.
Those players are in the American Hockey League because they aren’t good enough to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs. That’s it. That’s all there is to it.
If a veteran can play good hockey they’ll be welcomed with open arms. If they play bad hockey, they’ll be sent to the AHL where they belong or shipped out to the same remote island Toronto sent Joffrey Lupul and Stephane Robidas to.
Perhaps Filppula knows he’s dead weight in the NHL right now and that accepting a deal to Toronto meant he would be properly placed in the hockey ranks. That has less to do with the Leafs and more to do with how he plays the game.
Any deal bringing back Filppula to Toronto was going to get the Leafs a bigger return – or maybe cost them less to get the real player they were after (Boyle?).
For free agents, well, the Leafs aren’t going to bring any in that they don’t intend to play. The players buried with the Marlies were all brought in as cash dumps from other teams in trades.
The theory that what Toronto does with bad players could happen to all veterans is nonsense. Play good hockey, stay in the NHL. It’s that simple and, realistically, more teams should be doing it.