He’s exempt for 29 days on the NHL roster.

Okay, but there’s no such thing. Not really. A “paper” transaction refers to the act of actually assigning a player to the AHL but not actually emptying their locker and sending them to the other team’s practice. It’s a pretence. You can’t pretend to waive someone.

But this is a move designed for the same reason paper transactions to the AHL often occur. The Leafs need a roster spot.

This morning they recalled the three players they had sent to the Marlies:

Which gave them a roster of 29, with six players injured and on IR, LTIR or SOIR:

  1. Auston Matthews
  2. Matt Murray
  3. Jake Muzzin
  4. Nick Robertson
  5. Victor Mete
  6. Carl Dahlström

That makes 23 players. To recall Auston Matthews tomorrow to play, they have to remove someone, and clearly, the Leafs have said that these callups are on the roster and will be used in games upcoming, while Wayne Simmonds won’t be.

When he clears waivers, he won’t actually be sent off to the AHL, but he can’t practice with or travel with the NHL team. This isn’t a paper transaction, it’s a move to limbo.

The Leafs have to keep this up until March 3, but there’s no real precedent for the NHL agreeing to let a team pretend to send someone to the minors for a long period of time.

Simmonds would be waivers exempt for 29 days on the roster after he clears, and he can be swapped back and forth on off days with whoever is handy and waivers exempt in what would then be genuine paper transactions. But then that person can’t practice with the team, so doing so is going to be restricted to actual off days.

Matthews was coy about playing tomorrow, but it’s clear he is planning to, and this was the move to make room. In other words, Alex Steeves is ahead of Simmonds on the depth chart.