In a somewhat surprising move, the Maple Leafs have called up Kevin Gravel from the Marlies. Gravel last played a game on November 9, and has three games in the NHL and eight in the AHL this season.
Todd Crocker reported on the broadcast of the last Marlies game that Gravel was almost ready to return, but it is a bit unusual to have him return in an NHL practice without any AHL game time. The Marlies play tonight at home and tomorrow afternoon as well.
The Maple Leafs have a two-game homestand with games on Saturday and Monday, and Gravel has been added as the 23rd man, replacing Tyler Gaudet who was sent down yesterday. Gaudet went on the recent Leafs roadtrip, but did not play.
Gravel played 36 games in the NHL last year for the Oilers, and seemed in training camp to be a potential to play some NHL games this year. He cleared waivers on October 29, and will stay waiver exempt for 29 days on the NHL roster or nine games played.
Gravel is a left-shooting defender, and played his AHL games with Timothy Liljegren, then Teemu Kivihalme and Jesper Lindgren when he returned to that AHL after his brief stint on the Leafs in October. It won’t be very surprising if he returns to the AHL after a few practices without ever playing.
(The Leafs are making it pretty clear to the NHL that calling up practice players needs to be addressed in the next CBA.)