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Where are the Maple Leafs?

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Wandering country roads in the snow, waiting out quarantine and still in Europe — we track them down for you.

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Training camp is set to begin for non-playoff teams in a few days, and for the bulk of the NHL on January 3. Teams are beginning to release their rosters, so let’s get up to speed on who will likely show up for Leafs camp and who definitely won’t.

In a normal season, the Leafs have a very large training camp, usually somewhere other than Toronto, with public events, live scrimmages and an alumni game. After a few days of largely PR events, interviews and public appearances, the AHL players go off on their own, leaving a still very large contingent of everyone on an NHL contract who might play in the NHL or needs waivers to be cut from the roster. None of that is going to happen this season.

As we learned yesterday with the waiving of Kalle Kossila, there’s no waiting required to remove NHL players from the roster, and because of the delayed start, some of those players have already been loaned to Europe. Camp is not going to be big and crowded.

The rules for this season limit a camp roster to 36 skaters and an unlimited number of goalies. As usual, everyone on the roster must be on an NHL contract or a try-out contract (PTO). No AHL-contracted players can be invited without a PTO.

There’s a common misconception that where a player plays determines his type of contract. This is absolutely backwards. The contract is a literal document signed between the player and a team. And while Leafs fans blur the line between the Maple Leafs and the Marlies because the ownership far enough up the line converges on MLSE, they are not the same team, and contracts with the two teams are very different. No Rich Clune at training camp without a PTO is the lesson.

Given the salary cap situation the Leafs find themselves in this season, they don’t need extra players, they need to make decisions about the players they do have, so PTOs might get used to flesh out the ranks enough for camp scrimmages, but not to find players to sign. There are no exhibition games, which is the main reason former NHLers like Clune get added in camp.

The Leafs are a boring team with a core that never changes and not a lot of room to fill in at the margins. No one told Kyle Dubas though, because he signed a lot of extras. Or so it seemed at the time.

The COVID-19 protocols for in-season are complex, but fairly clear, but the public rules for quarantine on arrival to training camp are necessarily vague. The NHL is dealing with two major sets of jurisdictions. In the US, some regions have such tough restrictions, camp can’t operate, and some will have ticket sales on opening day. In Canada, the five provinces presented a united front and agreed to something, perhaps the protocols as written, just before Christmas.

Mikko Lehtonen, who arrived in Toronto before these rules were set out, did 14 days in isolation like anyone else arriving in Canada. Now, it seems there is a testing and shorter isolation process available for players who don’t arrive on commercial flights. There is a longer process for those who do, and it’s hard to nail down precisely the last day you can leave Europe and make camp, but considering it’s this Sunday, we seem to have passed it.

Players Still in Europe

Kalle Kossila (still on an NHL contract with the Leafs until noon) tops the list. He’s in Germany.

  • Yegor Korshkov: on loan to the KHL, he played on Dec. 28, and has another game today. He might arrive on the Leafs or the Marlies later, but it seems like the plan is for him to play out the KHL season. It would end by April 30 at the latest.
  • Semyon Der-Arguchintsev: currently on loan to a KHL team and also injured. He has made vague comments about returning once his injury is healed, but not what he’d be returning to. Since this camp is not the big combined camp, he would likely not be around even if he was well. Expect him to play in the KHL at least until there is an AHL camp.
  • Filip Hållander: currently on loan to the SHL. His season will end by the end of April, assuming there are no massive delays.
  • Denis Malgin: on loan to the NL (Switzerland). He played prior to Christmas and his next scheduled game is tomorrow, so that will tell us for sure if he stayed or not. He is currently listed on their roster on the team site.
  • Filip Král: on loan to the Czech league. He last played on December 28. He could return for the AHL camp, but there’s no reason he would have joined the NHL camp.
  • Mac Hollowell: on loan to the Mestis in Finland. He is at once known to be in Canada thanks to some Instagram pictures and also not listed as recalled. The Mestis is on pause, and may or may not return at all. He might be in limbo until either they know if their season is over or AHL camp starts. He might suddenly get recalled and show up on the NHL roster.
  • Kristians Rubins: On loan to the Metal League in Denmark, he last played this week.

Other loans:

  • Mikhail Abramov: loaned to the QMJHL. The league is currently on pause, and Abramov is at the WJC. Expect him to return to the Q when they start up again. If they can’t finish their season, new rules about junior players and the AHL may appear, but for now the transfer agreement holds as is. However, if Abramov was on loan to his team in Quebec when he was drafted, he could join the AHL now, even though he’s only 19.

Not in Europe:

  • Alexander Barabanov has been in Toronto for some time. While he has a European out clause in his contract, the KHL trade deadline has passed, and he could not join a team there if he does not make the NHL roster. Barabanov is waiver exempt, and a prime candidate for a Taxi Squad job.

Who’s Left?

Core Roster:

  1. Auston Matthews
  2. John Tavares
  3. Mitch Marner
  4. William Nylander
  5. Alexander Kerfoot
  6. Zach Hyman
  7. Ilya Mikheyev
  8. Wayne Simmonds
  9. Pierre Engvall
  10. Jimmy Vesey
  11. Nick Robertson*
  12. Jason Spezza
  13. Joe Thornton
  14. Jake Muzzin
  15. Morgan Rielly
  16. TJ Brodie
  17. Justin Holl
  18. Zach Bogosian
  19. Mikko Lehtonen
  20. Rasmus Sandin
  21. Travis Dermott

*I’m calling him core because there is no place to cut him to other than a Taxi Squad on the last day.

Minors/Squad Players

Someone here is likely to make the roster in place of someone on the first list, and several of these players could be loaned to the Marlies in limbo before camp starts. Joe Duszak seems like a very surplus to requirements player for a short camp.

  1. Travis Boyd
  2. Alexander Barabanov
  3. Nic Petan
  4. Joey Anderson
  5. Kenny Agostino
  6. Adam Brooks
  7. Timothy Liljegren
  8. Joe Duszak
  9. Calle Rosen
  10. Teemu Kivihalme
  11. Martin Marincin
  12. David Warsofsky

And that adds up to 33 players. If the Leafs want some warm bodies on PTOs, they have room. But with six goalies, maybe that’s enough of a crowd for a Covid Camp.

When the official roster is released, we’ll post it and see if there are any surprises.