This is what happens to you when you follow Toronto Sports Media, so it’s not the first time. I’m confused because Mike Babcock went on a TSN radio show Wednesday and said:
“We’re not going to end up with eight D, we’re probably going to end up with 6D, and I don’t know if we’re going to have 13 or 12 forwards.”
He then goes on to say that with the Marlies right in town, this is no problem.
And then a different TSN guy opined:
Sounds like Spezza will be waived when Hyman returns.— Shawn Simpson (@TSNSimmer) November 7, 2019
He's not a great fit as a 4th line center. But gotta say if I'm looking for a mentor for L. Brown, White, or Norris. I'm bringing him back to Ottawa a 700k, and playing him ahead of Anisimov, Ryan, Boedker, or Beaudin.
And then this segment on That’s Hockey, on TSN, started off with a hushed-toned wake for the Leafs’ career of Jason Spezza. Dave Poulin said he’d looked at the numbers, and he thinks the Leafs have no choice and will be waiving Spezza. He says Nic Petan will be sent down and that he’s already cleared waivers. He then says “he believes” that Dmytro Timashov will be sent down, and that Spezza would be the third forward sent down.
Those numbers don’t add up, Dave, not unless Mike Babcock was either lying, or the team has had a rethink since Wednesday afternoon.
Okay, let’s back up. To make room for Zach Hyman, the Leafs need to cut three players, add him from LTIR/IR, and finish at 21 in total. There’s no way to get 22 to fit in the available cap space. The other thing is that everyone in the NHL knows all of this, so the Leafs have a Curtis McElhinney and Calvin Pickard problem all over again. You can’t trade guys everyone knows you’re going to waive in a day or so. The Leafs have really very obviously been trying to trade Nic Petan for weeks.
Let’s review the current roster, with the help of Cap Friendly’s Armchair GM tool.
That group, the team as they played the last game, has a cap space of $227, 857. Let’s do Poulin’s “carefully looked at numbers” roster:
This is a perfectly plausible roster and there’s nothing wrong with it. It fits with $147,301 in space. And it makes sense if Morgan Rielly isn’t really all that okay right now. There’s no reason you can’t argue that Spezza hasn’t really proven he’s more useful than Shore, who has been quietly, dully competent, which is what he was hired to be. Poulin and his panel mates talk about PK and faceoffs, and that’s lovely, but it misses a point about the wasteland that is the second power play unit, and with Hyman on the team, the Leafs aren’t short on PK talent. But this is a fine roster that has seven defenders.
This next roster has six, it also still has Spezza who can rotate in with Shore depending on needs, and it totally fits in the available space. I left Marincin in basically to make the Holl fans mad, but also because his cap hit is a bit more. And it still fits with $122,301.
So either one of those rosters makes sense, provides flexibility and leaves some players on the Marlies who are useful as call-ups.
Look, I get it, Spezza used to be a name player in the Ontario market, so of course you want to speculate about him. And it’s totally possible Babcock’s “we’ll end up with” was meant as longer term than the day Hyman is activated. It’s also possible that Babcock was seeding some disinformation. Remember last July when we discovered who lied about trades the most? Kyle Dubas, that’s who.
But it’s not true to say that Spezza must be waived or that he hasn’t shown any value at all on the team. Last year all we heard was load management, and this year with a depth guy in his 30s not playing every game, it’s time to toll the bell on his career. Maybe it is. But it isn’t mathematically certain.
Besides Spezza, all of Timashov, Marincin, Holl, Petan and Shore require waivers. Marincin cleared last year on the first day of the season when he was not hiding in a crowd; Holl was never waived last year; Petan cleared on the last day of training camp this year in a crowd of players being sent down; Timashov has never been waived. I don’t know what would happen with Spezza. There’s some thinking the Senators would claim him. He’s cheap! They like that! But why? Frankly Nic Petan could play in their top six right now.
This could happen on Thursday. The rules are that, as soon as the player is waived, they can be declared non-roster, but they have to report to the AHL team within 24 hrs of clearing waivers. That means noon on Saturday, and the Marlies are in Grand Rapids, Michigan for Friday and Saturday, so this is not a problem.
Okay, do you think Poulin is in the know? Is Spezza going down? Or is it going to be Marincin or Holl?
Who is NOT going to be waived when Hyman is ready?
And take a moment to marvel that Frederik Gauthier is not on that list. What a world we now live in, where this is true.