Toronto Maple Leafs Have Learned From Past Mistakes

On Monday, the Toronto Maple Leafs avoided repeating a mistake from their past.

Instead of placing Aaron Dell on waivers with the risk of losing him to another team, the Toronto Maple Leafs decided to keep Dell on their active roster.

By doing so the team will carry three goalies to start the season instead of having one on their taxi squad. This is a smart attempt by the Leafs to avoid losing their third string goalie, something that could obviously come in handy given the challenges of playing a season during a pandemic.

Previously Dubas tried to send both Calvin Pickard and Curtis McElhinney down to the AHL in favor of keeping Garett Sparks. Unfortunately for Dubas and the Leafs, both Pickard and McElhinney were claimed off waivers by other teams.  The Leafs had put years and millions of dollars into Sparks development, and at the time he was considered one of the best goalie prospects in the NHL.

The thought process was sensible, and it was unlikely both goalies would get claimed. Unfortunately, they both did and to make matters worse, Sparks struggled.  This time, with a shorter season and higher stakes, plus a far more likely need for a third goalie than usual, the Leafs are playing it safe.

When the deadline came on Monday for teams to waive players, the only goaltender the Maple Leafs waived was Michael Hutchinson. On Tuesday, Hutchinson cleared waivers and will report to the Toronto Marlies when their season starts.

Toronto Maple Leafs Use Taxi Squad Exemption Rule

When the details regarding the taxi squad came out, it stated that teams can carry four to six players. As for goaltenders, the taxi squad must have one goaltender on it unless the team’s active roster already has three goaltenders.

The Leafs used this rule to their advantage and avoided losing Dell on waivers. They will carry three goaltenders for now, but given that they are so close to the cap that on most nights they will only be able to have one player in the pressbox, it seems unlikely this is a long term play.

 Most Likely Scenario For The Toronto Maple Leafs?

The most likely scenario will see the Leafs place Dell on waivers once they’re more confident that another team won’t claim him. The New Jersey Devils recently lost Corey Crawford to retirement and are in need of goaltender depth. Dell would have been an easy target for them to claim had he been put on waivers. Instead, the Devils claimed goaltender Eric Comrie.

Comrie wasn’t the only goaltender claimed on Tuesday. The Carolina Hurricanes claimed Anton Forsberg to add to their goaltending depth. So it seems that Dubas made the right call by keeping Dell on the active roster.

According to capgeek.com, the Toronto Maple Leafs will start the season with 18 skaters and three goaltenders for a total cap hit of $80,933,491 which fits them under the salary cap ($81,500,000) by a small $566,509 margin.

This seems like a smart move by the Leafs, and hopefully they can sneak Dell through at the appropriate time and gain some more roster flexibility.