Toronto Maple Leafs Place Aaron Dell and Jason Spezza on Waivers

TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 13: Jason Spezza #19 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Montreal Canadiens during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on January 13, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Canadiens 5-4 in overtime. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 13: Jason Spezza #19 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Montreal Canadiens during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on January 13, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Canadiens 5-4 in overtime. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /
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The Toronto Maple Leafs have today placed Aaron Dell and Jason Spezza on waivers, likely in an attempt put both players on the taxi squad and gain roster flexibility.

Concerned about losing their third goaltender for nothing, the Toronto Maple Leafs started the season with Aaron Dell on the main roster, but with their salary cap preventing from carrying the maximum amount of roster players, this severely limits their ability to make roster changes.

Dell has now he has been placed on waivers along with veteran forward Jason Spezza.

It was only a matter of time before Dell found himself on the waiver wire, with the Leafs seemingly waiting for a time where the chances of another team claiming him were lower, but seeing Spezza there has surprised many.

The decision to put both players on waivers likely stems from circumstances out of the team’s control, and there is still a very real chance that at least one of the players remains with the Leafs 24 hours from now.

Robertson’s Injury Forces Leafs Waivers

After just 2:20 of ice time during his regular season debut for the Leafs, forward Nick Robertson was hit awkwardly into the boards by Ottawa Senators forward Drake Batherson, which forced the 19-year-old rookie to head back to the dressing room.

Robertson did not return to the game as a result of the hit and now is expected to miss some time due to the injury.

As a result, this has left the Leafs with only $650,000 in cap room to work with and no one on the taxi squad carrying a cap hit low enough to simply be called into action.

This has ultimately led to both Dell and Spezza being placed on waivers in the hope of alleviating enough space for the Leafs to operate with, potentially preparing them for the unlikely event that a similar situation occurs again later in the season.

Sending Spezza and Dell to the taxi squad would free up exactly $1.5 million of cap space on top of their existing $650,000, meaning that calling up further replacements will be much easier to manage while Robertson is sidelined. (All contracts via CapFriendly).

Dell is likely to be heading to a new destination once the 24-hour window passes, with a number of goaltenders already being claimed so far this season with the position being a valued commodity.

This will likely see Michael Hutchinson, who had passed through waivers prior to the start of the season, to be called up to the taxi squad and operate as the Leafs’ third choice moving forward.

Spezza, meanwhile, is more than likely to remain in Toronto thanks to his reported insistence on finishing his career in the city, with Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reporting that the 37-year-old veteran will simply retire if another team claims him on waivers, opting to quit the game instead of  reporting elsewhere.

This likely means the placing of Spezza on waivers was a calculated move from the Toronto Maple Leafs, who would seemingly like to keep the former second overall pick around while trying not to lose any other players deemed valuable enough for the main roster.

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A team could still claim Spezza, but the chances of him suiting up for another team other than the Leafs is extremely unlikely and the veteran should still be a part of the organization once this process is complete.