Today the Maple Leafs have placed defender Martin Marincin on waivers.

On January 21, the Maple Leafs had a special event, the annual Blue and White gala, and they posted photos os the players, including this one:

That was the first look at Tyler Ennis since he broke his ankle in a game on December 22:

Tyler Ennis out with a broken ankle

Then of course, the Leafs added Jake Muzzin to the lineup. With Ennis on IR, the roster was at 23 players, which is the maximum allowed. The clock started ticking for the three defenders in the press box: Martin Marincin, Justin Holl and Igor Ozhiganov.

With news that Ennis was at practice yesterday, the ticking got louder. There is no official word yet if he is coming off of IR today for tonight’s game, although that is possible to do.

Prior to Muzzin’s arrival, Ozhiganov had played most of the games on the third pair, with Marincin appearing in 10 and Holl in 2. Marincin has two assists, while Holl has zero points, and it seemed like Holl was the lowest man on the depth chart.

Marincin and Holl are about the same age (26 and 27), paid very little ($800,000 and $675,000) and aren’t going to take the next man up job away from right-shooting Ozhiganov. Holl also has one more year on his contract, making him a less attractive waiver claim for a team that wants an extra defender before the trade deadline.

So why waive Marincin?

The simple answer might be the shortage of right-shooting defenders. Marincin also has an NHL track record, has cleared waivers last year, and is more likely to clear and join the Marlies.

The thing is, the Marlies aren’t short on defenders. Although Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren are both injured, they aren’t far from returning, and their ice time is more important than anyone coming down from the NHL.

But if Marincin clears, he actually becomes easier to trade. This is often misunderstood, and the question is always why trade for a guy you could have had for free? And the answer is that if you trade some low-level asset for a replacement-level player who has already cleared waivers, you have a guy who can sit in the AHL until he’s needed. If you just claim him, he’s going to sit in your press box, so you better have the room on your roster.

In three weeks the roster limit disappears, but for teams right now, they need the space to make a claim. Teams are always hungry for extra defence at this time of the year, but I’m not sure Marincin’s all-Corsi, no-concentration style of play is exactly in demand. We’ll see tomorrow at noon if he clears or if he’s claimed.

I hear Edmonton needs defence, maybe they’ll try him out.