In the first preseason game Matt Read played in, he was on the ice with a lot of inexperienced players, and I noticed immediately that he was the only forward on the PK who didn’t look like he was in a mild state of panic. By the end of training camp, and the last game he played in, he looked like an NHL player. Not bad for the guy on a PTO who out-competed a host of younger NHL-contracted players who were all vying for one depth job.

Now the Leafs have signed the 33-year-old winger to an AHL contract. That seems a little odd at first, since surely someone would offer him an NHL deal.

It’s possible this AHL deal is a placeholder, a proof of interest while the Leafs might play someone else in NHL games on the fourth line and while they have used 49 of their allowed 50 SPC spaces. If someone gets claimed on waivers, or if a trade is made that reduces the contracts, Read will surely get a low-salary NHL one-way deal.

He has played in the AHL recently, putting in 61 games last year in Iowa. The Marlies are an upgrade on almost any AHL team, and Read is very good at the AHL level, no longer merely an experienced player who is responsible defensively and can play PK, he’s suddenly a goal-scorer at that level.

By going this route, the Leafs completely bypass waivers for Read. He can simply be assigned to the Marlies and then signed to an NHL deal only when he’s about to be called up. If they wish to sign him to an NHL deal and keep him on the Marlies, he has to be put through waivers at that time.

The rest of the Marlies training camp roster is here, and the only news there is that Ian Scott is currently injured: