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The Maple Leafs make cuts, Dermott bumps Lehtonen

Posted in Canada, Featured

Published on January 11, 2021 with No Comments

The Maple Leafs deleted some names from their training camp roster and made one significant switch among the Monday morning survivors.

While a couple of last year’s Leafs, such as Pierre Engvall, Martin Marincin, Calle Rosen and Timothy Liljegren were among 14 cuts that brought the Leafs downto 15 forwards, eight defencemen and three goalies, practice at the Ford Centre started with a twist.

Highly touted Finnish defenceman Mikko Lehtonen was on the apparent taxi squad, the fourth defence pairing with Rasmus Sandin. Travis Dermott. who appeared to be the odd man out in the short camp, was in Lehtonen’s spot with veteran Zach Bogosian.

Lehtonen, the leading scorer among KHL defencemen last year, stood out in Saturday’s lone inter-squad exhibition game prior to Wednesday’s season opener against Montreal. He was second star with a couple of assists off William Nylander goals and was point man on the second power play unit. But coach Sheldon Keefe was looking for more.

“Reflecting on it and looking at last week for Mikko, we like a lot of things about him,” Keefe began. “Certainly the power play, he’s ready to contribute there. (But) we think there are other areas of his game that need a little more time.

“We don’t want to rush him into a situation that he may be not be adjusted to quite yet (some other KHLers the Leafs were high on the past few years had that issue). We’re playing off the history of other players in his situation that have come in right away – and that’s with a traditional exhibition game season (which the Leafs didn’t have this year in a COVID-19 shortened schedule).

“So we’re going to take a little step back for him to watch and get a feel for the league. He’ll get in at some point.”

The full cuts to the Marlies on Monday included forwards Kenny Agostino, Joey Anderson (picked up from Jersey in the trade for Andreas Johansson), Justin Brazeau, Rourke Chartier, Engvall, Scott Sabourin, Tyler Gaudet, Nic Petan, goalie Michael Hutchinson, defencemen Teemu Kivihalme, Liljegren, Marincin, Rosen and Mac Hollowell.

Agostino, Travis Boyd, Adam Brooks, Marincin and Rosen have also been placed on waivers after Petan cleared on the weekend. Brooks, Boyd and rookie Nick Robertson were a forward line with the main group on Monday.

Goalie Aaron Dell was not put on waivers and Keefe said the door is open to carry three netminders, with Frederik Andersen and Jack Campbell. NHL taxi-squads can be a minimum of four players and a maximum of six — that latter of which can travel and practice with the team this year and alternatively be used to manage cap space. If the Leafs are in excess of the US$81.5 million limit, they can also play below the 23-man roster.

The Leafs play three games in four nights this week, so some of those extras might be in the lineup quite quickly. Monday was the first time this year the media was allowed to watch practice, under strict health and safety regulations.


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