Today, well, tomorrow really, for bookkeeping purposes, Nic Petan has been cut from the Maple Leafs roster and sent to the Marlies. Since this move comes after 5 p.m. New York time, today counts as a day spent on the roster, and tomorrow does not.
The Leafs were carrying a full healthy 23-man roster on their current road trip, plus the ailing Trevor Moore, who was on LTIR following an injury in November. To bring Moore back, someone had to be cut to make roster room.
The two players have identical cap hits, so the available LTIR pool, with Andreas Johnsson still injured and ineligible to return until New Year’s Eve, is $1.2 million.
Petan was called up on December 6 along with Pontus Aberg and Martin Marincin. All three players are still waivers exempt, but their days in the NHL and their games played will eventually add up to enough to use up that exemption.
Moore is expected to play on Saturday in Edmonton on the fourth line with Frederik Gauthier and Jason Spezza. Dmytro Timashov and Aberg are expected to be the scratches along with Marincin.
Prior to his injury, Moore had played in 21 games, averaging 14 minutes of five-on-five play per game as he was frequently filling in on the top nine while Mitch Marner was injured. He has three goals and two assists, and an Expected Goals % that is only better than the two forwards to be scratched and Nick Shore, who was lost to waivers.
If his first part of the season was a disappointment after his fun debut last year, his next few games are crucial. With Pierre Engvall taking a spot on the third line in the most recent game, as well as the one to come, Moore now has some competition for a roster spot he will struggle to best. The usage of the fourth line has changed, but their minutes have also gone from sparse under Mike Babcock, to one of the least used lines in the NHL. Only Winnipeg routinely uses their fourth line less. The Jets were the team that took Nick Shore off of waivers.
When Johnsson is healthy, waiver exemption might be the deciding factor in choosing who to cut, but with the Leafs needing every point, perhaps the asset managers need to sit down and let short-term thinking prevail.