The Leafs have announced their first large roster trim. Nothing too surprising other than the fact that it looks like this year's first draft pick, Jiri Tlusty, will be starting his North American career in the AHL (Update: The Leafs are not sure where he will play). One more day of practice before the final cuts will most likely be made. Wednesday will see both the Leafs and Marlies in action.
Looking at who is left you see that there are no surprises.
Here are the guys that are locks to be on the full roster come October 4, 2006.
Nik Antropov, Chad Kilger, Jeff O'Neill, Michael Peca, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Matt Stajan, Alex Steen, Mats Sundin, Darcy Tucker, Kyle Wellwood
Tomas Kaberle, Bryan McCabe, Pavel Kubina, Hal Gill
Depending on what Maurice decides to carry (13/14 forwards, 7/8 defencemen, 2 goalies)
Bates Battaglia, Brad Leeb, Ben Ondrus, John Pohl, Aleksander Suglobov, Erik Westrum
Wade Belak, Brendan Bell, Carlo Colaiacovo, Jay Harrison, Staffan Kronwall, Ian White, Andy Wozniewski, Brad Brown, Marc Moro
Mikael Tellqvist, Jean-Sebastien Aubin
The Leafs have three pre-season games left: Wednesday against the sens and a home and home starting Saturday against the Wings. Judging from the way that Maurice has set his roster for the games thus far I think that he will use the ottawa game to make his final cuts. On the defence side it will be easy to dress almost the entire bubble squad because of the injuries. In the forwards, Mats, Darcy, and Peca at least will probably get the night off. This will set the team up nicely to dress their opening night squad for the game against the Wings.
If I was to handicap the races based solely on the three games this weekend (not taking into account whether Wellwood is used as a winger or whether Maurice wants a grinders-only fourth line or whether people have been injured) I would rank the players as follows:
John Pohl, Bates Battaglia, Aleksander Suglobov, Brad Leeb, Ben Ondrus, Erik Westrum
Ian White, Brendan Bell, Jay Harrison, Andy Wozniewski, Staffan Kronwall, Wade Belak, Carlo Colaiacovo, Brad Brown, Marc Moro
Jean-Sebastien Aubin, Mikael Tellqvist
We will probably know the final roster by Thursday but with a new coach it is a little hard to hazard a guess as to who will make the final cut. All I can hope is that the players are all healthy for the first regular installment of the Battle of Ontario and are ready to get the Leafs back in the playoffs.