The Toronto Maple Leafs relationship with Nic Petan is getting confusing.
The Toronto Maple Leafs acquired Petan for Par Lindholm last year at the trade deadline. While it appeared that the Leafs had made a great move, Babcock has been reluctant to give Petan much of a chance.
In fact, he’s only gotten into ten games, usually in a fourth line role, during his time with the Leafs.
Then last week they loaned him out to the Marlies.
Then they recalled him and played him on a line with Tavares and Marner.
Then they put him on waivers and sent him back to the AHL, where he has seven points in three games.
And now, they’ve recalled him again.
Toronto Maple Leafs and Nic Petan
It seems crazy, but the fact is this is the life of a fringe NHL player.
On top of it all, the Leafs have been supposedly trying to trade Petan to a team that will give him more of a chance this entire time.
But a trade doesn’t seem to be happening, and no one wanted him on waivers.
And that’s a good thing, because now it turns out the Leafs need him.
With Marner gone for four weeks, and on the long-term injured reserve, the Leafs cap troubles are temporarily non-existent.
Zach Hyman is free to return to the lineup without any of the roster shenanigans that were being imagined to get him there. And, with Marner down, the Leafs may now have a chance to give the highly skilled Petan a shot at playing with other good players, regularly, in a role suited to his abilities.
People routinely say incredulous things like “he must suck if no other team wants him,” but the reality is that other teams make bad decisions all the time. And, the decisions they make even when they aren’t bad are informed by a host of reasons that might not have much to do with the player they’re passing on.
Luca Sbisa is terrible. Josh Ho-Sang has 1st line talent, and Sprong, Baertschi, Djoos and Petan are all players who should be playing regular NHL minutes but for some reason are not.
Pretty sure the Blue Jays once tried to get rid of Edwin Encarnacion by designating him for assignment three or four months before he became a superstar for the next decade.
Not saying Petan is another Edwin, but he might be. He has great speed, passing and vision. Perhaps Mitch Marner’s injury will open the door for him to finally establish himself as the NHL player many people think he is capable of being.
He is only 24 and he has a history of being able to post a point per game in the AHL, which is a good indicator that a player should be in the NHL.
We can only hope that Mike Babcock uses Petan where he should – on a line with John Tavares – and that he doesn’t break up the Kerfoot, Miheyev and Kapanen line in an effort to replace Mitch Marner.