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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Leafs News: Coborne traded to Calgary, D battle hot

With Dave Nonis trading Joe Colborne to his former boss Brian Burke's (is he chasing a mistake?) team for a 4th round pick next year, the competition for the 12th and 13th forward spots (at least until Clarkson and McLaren return) has come down to the wire. Joe C never really impressed in Toronto, though he often upped his game when with the Leafs relative to his time with Marlies (as with Kadri). Colborne has big size but doesn't use it, which must have befuddled Carlyle daily. 

Here is the current situation up front for the Leafs:

Big Six:

JVR - Bozak - Kessel
Lupul - Kadri - Clarkson (suspended, pencil Raymond in for now)

Third Line

McClement - Bolland - Kulemin

Fourth Line

Here's where it gets tricky, and don't be surprised if the Leafs pick up a center off waivers, after letting Colborne go. McClement or Bolland could be asked to center the fourth line if no C is picked up today or tomorrow. Regardless, there are two openings (Orr will play certain teams) and five bodies:

Carter Ashton, Troy Bodie, Trevor Smith, Jamie Devane and Josh Leivo

Ashton makes a mil per year, more than the others, and can also be sent down without waivers, so look for him to be parked with the Marls for now. While Leivo probably deserves a shot soon, with Clarkson out of the lineup, more experienced players like Brodie and Smith may get the nod, so here is one possibility for a temporary fourth line:

Devane - Smith - Orr

13th forward: Brodie

Leivo and Ashton will be sent to Marlies with encouragement to continue stellar play and be ready for a callup.

Maple Leafs 7th D: Reilly or Liles?

Most commentators assume Liles is going on waivers and ending up with the Marlies but that only frees up 900k or so, whereas if they trade him and pay half his salary that frees up 2 mil. Even if he does go to Marlies, he could be back up if Reilly goes down, but don't hold your breath. The vibes would indicate that Lieweke, Nonis and Carlyle all believe that for the Leafs to be serious Stanley Cup contenders, they will need both Gardiner and Reilly to be dynamic offensive contributors. Add in Franson, and all three leafs pairings could be dangerous.

Here are the perceived D starters:

Top Six

Phaneuf - Gunnarsson
Fraser - Franson
Gardiner - Ranger

7 and 8

Reilly, Liles, MacWilliam

I called the Joe Colborne trade a couple of days ago, and I can't avoid this feeling that some other NHL team is going to cut someone that Nonis and Carlyle want, so stay tuned, the next twenty-eight hours (deadline for rosters is 3pm Monday) will be fascinating for NHL fans.

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