Sunday, 5 October 2014

Pre-season is done; who stays and who goes?

Now that the pre-season has come to an end, it's time to debate over those last few roster cuts. The Leafs are currently at 29 players, which needs to be cut down to 23 by the season opener on Wednesday.

The list of players:

  • Phil Kessel
  • Tyler Bozak
  • James Van Riemsdyk
  • Joffrey Lupul
  • Nazem Kadri
  • David Clarkson
  • Leo Komarov
  • Mike Santorelli
  • David Booth
  • Daniel Winnik
  • Colton Orr
  • Frazer McLaren
  • Brandon Kozun
  • Josh Leivo
  • William Nylander
  • Peter Holland
  • Carter Asthon
  • Matt Frattin
  • Dion Phaneuf
  • Cody Franson
  • Jake Gardiner
  • Morgan Rielly
  • Stephane Robidas
  • Roman Polak
  • Korbinian Holzer
  • Stuart Percy
  • Viktor Loov
  • James Reimer
  • Jonathon Bernier
As opposed to describing what is likely to happen, I will argue what I would do.

Put Booth on the Long Term Injured Reserve list. Booth is likely out 4 weeks with a broken foot. To be on LTIR you have to miss 10 games and 24 days, which is about the timeline for Booth's return. This will save Booth's $1.1M contract from preventing the Leafs to have 23 bodies while they wait for Booth to be healthy.

Put Cody Franson on the Injured Reserve list. His knee injury got him back on the ice just yesterday (October 4th), I believe it would be better to let Holzer play the first game to let Franson get back to game speed once his knee is fully healed.

Waive Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren. These types of players are no longer of value on an NHL roster. Their inability to skate and control the puck makes them more of a detriment to the team than their face-punching could ever bring as a benefit.

Assign Viktor Loov to the Marlies. Loov didn't play the last 3 pre-season games, and to be honest I'm fairly certain the only reason he was still on the roster was to have a 7th defenseman if Robidas was unable to play. Loov still has some work to do on his footwork before he has an opportunity in the NHL.

Assign William Nylander to MODO of the SHL. Everyone talks about about playing Nylander on North American ice being incredibly important. I don't believe it is as important for a forward as it is a defenseman. Nylander should go back to Sweden and dominate against adult players while bulking up a bit and learning defense a bit better. There's no doubt he has the skills to play in the NHL, but he has to work on his game away from the puck in order to last. Sweden is the best place for him to do that. The forward depth on the Marlies is such that he would have to compete for minutes, which would take his focus away from his personal growth. As such, I believe Sweden is the place for him to be this season.

Assign Josh Leivo to the Marlies. Many were very impressed with Leivo's camp. I, however, was not. I thought his defensive game looked horrid, and his ability to control possession was lacking. He looked very strong in puck battles and created some good opportunities for himself, but he is simply not ready for the NHL yet. Let him play another season of pro, and hopefully he can improve his two-way game in the NHL for next season.

Recall Troy Bodie from the Marlies. How this player wasn't given a good chance to make the roster, and Orr and McLaren were, boggles my mind. Have Bodie come up and fill space while Franson is hurt.

There we are, we're down to 23 active players. Now what?

Well, here's the lines I would put out on opening day, using the Armchair GM feature on Capgeek.

Opening day from Rivers
Joffrey Lupul ($5.250m) / Nazem Kadri ($2.900m) / Phil Kessel ($8.000m) 
James Van Riemsdyk ($4.250m) / Tyler Bozak ($4.200m) / Brandon Kozun ($0.550m) 
Leo Komarov ($2.950m) / Mike Santorelli ($1.500m) / David Clarkson ($5.250m) 
Daniel Winnik ($1.300m) / Peter Holland ($0.775m) / Carter Ashton ($0.851m) 
Troy Bodie ($0.600m) / Matt Frattin ($0.800m) 
Dion Phaneuf ($7.000m) / Stephane Robidas ($3.000m) 
Jake Gardiner ($4.050m) / Roman Polak ($2.750m) 
Morgan Rielly ($0.894m) / Korbinian Holzer ($0.788m) 
Stuart Percy ($0.863m) / Cody Franson ($3.300m) 
Jonathan Bernier ($2.900m) 
James Reimer ($2.300m) 
Mike Komisarek ($0.000m) 
Mikhail Grabovski ($0.000m) 
Tim Gleason ($0.833m) 
Petri Kontiola ($0.175m) 
David Booth ($1.100m) 
RETAINED SALARIES (0.29% of upper limit)
Carl Gunnarsson ($0.200m—6.35%) 
CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter)
(estimations for 2014-15)
SALARY CAP: $69,000,000; CAP PAYROLL: $68,741,333; BONUSES: $1,062,500
CAP SPACE (24-man roster): $258,667

Note, Franson should be on Injured Reserve, but there was no option for this. The roster would actually have 23 players, not 24, for this reason.

Once Franson is healthy you can make a decision whether you want 8 D or 14 F to build your 23 man roster. Personally, I would go 14 F, 7 D and 2 G to make 23 players, but the option to have 8 D and keep Stuart Percy while putting Bodie back in the minors is also there.

Once Booth is healthy, a much tougher decision has to be made if you decide to use 13F. If the 14F roster was used, you can just send Bodie down and there's no problems. However, if Bodie is already down you may have to send Percy down, or risk waiving Frattin or Ashton.

There it is. We have the opening day roster for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Here's hoping Dave Nonis takes a similar path. However, I'm doubting Colton Orr gets cut at all. So, bye bye Ashton.

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