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Maple Leafs trade Josh Leivo to Vancouver to make roster room

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The Leafs have cleared the decks for the arrival of Nylander, and Josh Leivo isn’t going to sit in the press box.

New Jersey Devils v Toronto Maple Leafs
They really had some chemistry, but you don’t make roster decisions based on 4th line chemistry.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Toronto Maple Leafs entered today with 24 players on their roster. Amid reports, unconfirmed by the AHL transactions list, that they’d “papered down” the waiver exempt Travis Dermott to get to 23 so William Nylander would fit on the roster, we now have news that it isn’t a waiving that’s going to sort this crowded roster out.

Josh Leivo has played 27 games with the Leafs this season, which is all of them to date. He has four goals and two assists, and has shown some admirable qualities in a depth role. After failing to crack the Leafs roster for several years running, and spending most of last year in the press box, he’s proved himself capable as a fourth-liner who can fill in on the power play.

In two prior seasons with the Leafs, he’s had one segment of very high personal shooting percentage and one of very high on-ice shooting percentage. As always with low minute, or occasional players, rating out their points stats can be a bit misleading as they carry more opportunities for variance to be having a big effect.

If you think that’s the case with Leivo, you might think he is just a depth player. If you think his real ability is conveyed in those numbers, you might think an opportunity to play higher in the lineup was in order. The Leafs don’t have the room for him, but perhaps Vancouver can discover who he really is as a player.

Leivo will finish this season as an RFA with arbitration rights. With his inflated for a depth player salary of $925,000 right now, he’s due a qualifying offer of $971,250. That’s not the sort of cap hit the Leafs want to see in their depth players next season.

Yesterday, the Canucks waived Brendan Leipsic, the player the Leafs chose to expose in the expansion draft over Leivo. It seems they agreed with the Lou Lamoriello’s decision. The Los Angeles Kings claimed Leipsic today.

The return for Leivo is an AHLer with some limited scoring ability. He does not appear to be a centre, however, which is a position of weakness on the Marlies. He has 17 points in 20 games played for Utica this year.