You may be stuck with you family, nodding and smiling while they tell you all about how great the Habs are this year, and how much they’ve always loved them best, but the Leafs are not frozen into any roster arrangement.
The Holiday Roster Freeze is in effect, but it has an out clause. If a team has called up a player after December 11, or if they called him up on an emergency basis, they can move them back down to the AHL by midnight on December 23 local time.
So that means while all sensible eastern time zone fans were tucked up in their beds dreaming of sugar plums and back-to-back wins, the Leafs made some roster moves post-game out in Arizona. They had two hours to do it, but I’m sure it was planned out in advance.
Back to the Marlies, just in time for a game on Monday afternoon, is Antoine Bibeau.
To replace him on the Leafs, and possibly to stay through the road trip to Florida that sees games on December 28 and 29, is Jhonas Enroth.
Down to the Marlies are both replacement centres, Byron Froese and Frederik Gauthier, who were called up when Tyler Bozak and Ben Smith were hurt.
We know that Smith had surgery, but if Bozak is ready to come back for the Florida trip, the Leafs may have decided to let Nylander play a couple of games as the extra centre again.
The roster freeze runs to midnight on the 28th, smack dab between the two games. But any player can be called up for the second game, and the freeze does not prevent emergency callups either, so there may be more moves ahead.
For example: if Enroth is going to be swapped down to the Marlies for Bibeau again, that can happen after midnight on the 28th. If Gauthier is going to be called up to play centre, and it can meet the emergency requirements, he can be called up before the freeze is over.
In other news that shows the Leafs always have a backup plan, Brett Findlay was called up from the Solar Bears on Friday to play with the Marlies. He is one of the Solar Bears best players, a proven goal scorer and play-maker at the ECHL level, and he always looks good in the blue and white.
What that move says about the health of some of the Marlies who have been out lately istn’t clear. Brendan Leipsic, Kasperi Kapanen and Milan Michalek have all missed games, but Findlay may just be a backup centre in case Gauthier and/or Froese don’t stay long.
This move saves a little bit of cap space and salary since Enroth is the only one moving that’s on a one-way contract. He costs the same in salary no matter where he plays—or sits as a backup. By sending down the three players on two-way deals, the Leafs get them off the books in terms of cap hit and pay them less as well.
All three also get a chance to play on Monday, so it’s not a totally ruthless deal.
Who will start in net for the Marlies on Monday is the next question. Is the Karri Ramo experiment over? Is the Antoine Bibeau experiment over? Who is the Leafs backup? Or is Frederik Andersen just going to play every game?
We’ll find out. But until then, happy holidays, and try to always have an out clause so you can get out of those family dinners if you need to.