Toronto Maple Leafs Make Big Cuts and Hint at Taxi Roster

TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 3: Rasmus Sandin #38 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Florida Panthers during the second period at the Scotiabank Arena on February 3, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 3: Rasmus Sandin #38 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Florida Panthers during the second period at the Scotiabank Arena on February 3, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs have made some cuts to their roster as they get ready for Wednesday’s opener against the Montreal Canadiens.

The Toronto Maple Leafs had an abbreviated training camp that did not feature any exhibition games, and which only had about half the players as normal.

The biggest excitement of training camp was  a televised practice in which Mitch Marner showed off every move in his arsenal, and where Nick Robertson scored on an absolute rocket which should guarantee he gets into some NHL games.

A lot of people questioned me earlier when I wrote that Robertson already has one of the best shots in the NHL – but no one who saw that goal on Saturday night disagrees with that statement any longer.  Wow!

Toronto Maple Leafs Roster Moves

The only slight surprise of the players who were cut was Pierre Engvall, who I thought would be a shoe-in for the Taxi Squad at least, since he doesn’t have to clear waivers. 

Here is the list of players who were sent to the AHL and (if they had to be) waived:

Kenny Agostino, Joey Anderson, Justin Brazeau, Rourke Chartier, Pierre Engvall, Tyler Gaudet, Mac Hollowell, Michael Hutchinson, Teemu Kivihalme, Timothy Liljegren, Martin Marincin, Nic Petan, Calle Rosen and Scott Sabourin, (

There are at least seven players there who, if need be, could be perfectly adequate at the bottom of an NHL lineup, which might not seem like much, but the Leafs are only a season removed from playing Nikita Zaitsev, Ron Hainsey and Patrick Marleau, three players who were no longer of NHL quality, high in the lineup.

By my count, the remaining players consist of one full lineup, one player for the press-box, and five players for a Taxi Squad.

I assume this will break down as follows: Of the eight defensemen left in camp, I suspect Travis Dermott will open the season in the press-box while Rasmus Sandin will be on the Taxi Squad.  This is a mistake, and I think Bogosian should start in the box, while Dermott should be on the taxi squad, because I think Sandin should be playing every day.  Regardless, Sandin will claw his way to the lineup eventually.

The key here is that the Leafs have flexibility because Sandin and Lehtonen do not need to clear waivers, the Leafs can cobble together some kind of rotation if they feel like it.

I don’t think there’s any doubt that the top five is Rielly, Brodie, Muzzin, Holl and Lehtonen. At least there shouldn’t be.

In net it’s clear that if he clears waivers that Aaron Dell will be the team’s third goalie, and if he doesn’t Michael Hutchinson will likely take the role.

On forward it’s harder to guess what Keefe might do.  Obviously, the main cast is Thornton, Matthews, Marner, Tavaers, Nylander, Hyman, Kerfoot, and Mikeheyev.

That leaves seven forwards to split between the lineup and the Taxi Squad: Brooks, Barabanov, Vesey, Simmonds, Travis Boyd, Jason Spezza and Nick Robertson.

Adam Brooks does have to clear waivers if they demote him, and so this could create a situation where Engvall comes back up.  Assuming he doesn’t get picked, he’s likely to take one of the three spots on the Taxi Squad.

Boyd, Simmonds, Brooks, Vesey, and Spezza would all need to clear waivers, and at least two of them are going to have to, or the Leafs won’t have any flexibility.

Assuming the extra defenseman is the one in the press-box the Leafs forwards won’t have too much flexibility while the roster is completely healthy (which is never for long).  Unless Boyd and Brooks really won over Keefe, I think it’s likely that both are waived, because at least one of Barabanov and Robertson needs to be in the lineup to have that waiver free flexibility.

Look for the Toronto Maple Leafs to start with Simmonds, Vesey, Spezza and Barabanov in game one and go from there.   This means that Dermott will start the season in the press box, and one of Boyd and Brooks will either be lost on waivers or sent to the Marlies.

Next. Rasmus Sandin Needs Regular Ice Time. dark

The taxi squad would then look like: Dell/Hutchinson, Brooks/Boyd, Robertson/Barabanov, Sandin.  It will be interesting for sure to see what actually happens.

Note: Slightly before the publication of this article, the Leafs released their practice lines and probably game one lineup.  Instead of updating this post, I thought it would be more interesting to leave it and see how my thoughts compared to the coaches (who isn’t going by reputation, old stats and one televised practice like I am!).