Waivers season is in full swing, so let's get our ducks in a row with who on the Leafs would need waivers, if the Leafs have space to add someone from waivers, and what it means for the non-waivers players on the roster.
As is the case every year with this coach and many of the past coaches, all the great young waivers eligible prospects aren't going to make the team unless there are injuries. Except one. You all know who he is.
Roster Locks, need waivers
Forwards (9): Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, Tyler Bertuzzi, Max Domi, David Kämpf, Calle Järnkrok, Ryan Reaves
Defenders (6): Morgan Rielly, TJ Brodie, John Klingberg, Jake McCabe, Mark Giordano, Timothy Liljegren
Goalies (1): Ilya Samsonov
Roster Locks, waivers exempt
Forwards (1): Matthew Knies
The Leafs have 10 forwards, three lines and Reaves on the fourth line. They also have their six defenders, unless there's an injury or Klingberg becomes completely unplayable. He'll get a few months to play through anything like that before they go to the nuclear option, long after the opening lineup.
Roster Maybes or Marlies, need waivers
Forwards (4): Sam Lafferty, Noah Gregor*, Bobby McMann, Kyle Clifford
Defenders (4): Conor Timmins, William Lagesson, Simon Benoit, Maxime Lajoie
Goalies (2): Martin Jones, Joseph Woll
Most of these players will be on waivers sometime before the season starts. Lafferty is probably a lock, but he's here in the small chance he gets cut. Noah Gregor* isn't on an NHL contract, but all signs point to him getting one. If the Leafs want to send him to the Marlies, he would need waivers. More likely than not he's going to fill the other of the two forward spots. McMann is only just getting back from an injury from last season, so he has a week to make his case, though most likely he'll go to the Marlies with Clifford.
The defense is a salary cap issue more than anything else. It's the luxury of having Timmins vs the field vs not being able to fit any of them anyway. We'll see how it pans out but Lagesson has had a good camp and beats Timmins on cap hit.
The situation in net is clear: Samsonov and one of Jones or Woll. I wouldn't be surprised if the odd man out gets a plane ticket to Tampa emailed to them. They won't even have to change their gear!
Roster Maybes or Marlies, waivers exempt
Forwards (11): Pontus Holmberg, Nick Robertson, Alex Steeves, Roni Hirvonen, Nick Abruzzese, Ryan Tverberg, Max Ellis, Dmitry Ovchinnikov, Braeden Kressler, Ty Voit
Defenders (4): Mikko Kokkonen, Topi Niemelä, Marshall Rifai, William Villeneuve
Goalies (3): Dennis Hildeby, Vyacheslav Peksa, Keith Petruzzelli
Junior (2): Fraser Minten, Easton Cowan
In the scenarios where Lafferty and Gregor don't make 12 forwards, or Timmins isn't #7, an extra spot could open up for one of these prospects. The only player I've seen who could make the case that he's too good to get cut is Fraser Minten. It would be a huge shock (and amazing story) if the 19-year-old made the Leafs roster. I love him as a player, he does nothing but win pucks, create chances, and help the team on the ice.
And for reference, here are the injured players:
Dylan Gambrell (concussion), Jake Muzzin (spine), Matt Murray (undisclosed)
Bringing Math into This
A quick calculation shows the Leafs can't make a 21-player roster with Lafferty or Timmins on the roster (and Gregor as the 12th forward at league min). They would be over the cap, meaning one has to go. The only mathematical scenario where Timmins can make the roster is if they run 11/7/2, or make a trade. If I'm being honest, Timmins sticks out like a sore thumb and I don't see the argument to force him onto the roster.
A 20-player roster is possible with Lafferty and no Timmins, meaning no extra defenders behind Liljegren and one of a number of players as the 12th forward (Gregor, Holmberg, Robertson, Minten, Waivers Guy?). I wanted to write Akil Thomas, but couldn't bring myself to say it.
The other scenario is there's an injury. Klingberg was out most recently, as was Järnkrok. That would be a temporary solution to say the least, but one the Leafs have used in the past.
The GM might have changed, but this is still Brandon Pridham's universe, and we're just along for the ride.
"Trade Reaves!" Come now, be realistic.