Here comes some more truculence.
The Toronto Maple Leafs added Frazer McLaren via waivers on Thursday, bringing in the 6-foot-5, 230-pound behemoth who has played about five minutes a night in 40 games with the San Jose Sharks over the past few years.
The addition of McLaren comes as a direct response to an injury to Mike Brown, who banged up his shoulder when he hit the ice after a fight in Buffalo earlier this week and will miss at minimum a week.
Leafs GM Dave Nonis said head coach Randy Carlyle knows McLaren from his time in Anaheim coaching against the Sharks in the same division and thought he was worth giving a chance to with Brown out.
McLaren is five years younger than the Leafs resident enforcer, Colton Orr, and is on a two-way deal so it’s possible he could spend time in the minors in the organization and/or become a replacement down the road.
He won't join the team until practice on Friday.
The news of adding another puncher didn’t come out until after Carlyle’s meeting with the media prior to Thursday’s game against the Washington Capitals, but curiously enough, the coach had already waxed poetic on fighters and their role when asked about it.
“I just think it’s part of the game that’s there day in, day out,” Carlyle said. “I don’t look at the statistics as far as it spiking. I look at it as a way that certain people approach preparing your team. And when there’s confrontation and contact, at times those do spoil over into fighting.
“I think it’s a part of the game that won’t go away. There’s people that want it out of the game, but I don’t think it’ll go. I just think it’s a fact of life in the NHL. If you’re going to go out there and you’re going to run around, it’s going to force confrontation. Sometimes people try to take advantage of your skilled players. And you have that deterrent.
“You see it through the waiver wire and whatnot this year; there are teams that have acquired those players that historically didn’t have them.”
The Leafs aren’t in that boat really; they have historically had them under GM Brian Burke and have carried Brown, Orr and Mark Fraser on the roster this year.
With Brown on injured reserve, however, McLaren gives them a warm body for the next week or two who can then head down to the Toronto Marlies and fill the role Fraser had been prior to the end of the lockout.
Burke may have moved on, but even under this regime, the Leafs are likely always going to have a fighter or two.
- The Leafs also added Ryan Hamilton to the roster on Thursday. The Marlies captain was named the AHL all-star game MVP earlier this week and leads the AHL team in scoring with 18 goals in 38 games. He brings a little more scoring touch to the fourth line than it's had to date, as it really hasn't had any.
“He represents a lot of things that are positives in what we’d like out of our players,” Carlyle said. “Very committed athlete. Very low maintenance... The one thing that he’s done is he added another gear [to his skating]. That was his big drawback.
“Right now, we brought him up to fill in for Mike Brown, but we wouldn’t be afraid to put him higher in the lineup.”
- That will be the only roster change from Tuesday’s win in Buffalo, as James Reimer gets the start in goal and Mike Komisarek remains out on the blueline. Carlyle said he was happy with the play of Cody Franson, in particular, making it hard to take him out of the lineup.
- Clarke MacArthur skated in the morning skate but is still unable to grip his stick properly due to a badly mangled pinky finger. It’s possible he plays on Saturday, however.
- Carlyle remarked Thursday that he much preferred Nazem Kadri’s game at centre than on the wing, where he often played when he was up with the Leafs in the past. Kadri has been pretty impressive through six games with a team-leading six points despite getting third-line minutes.
“To me there was two different hockey players,” Carlyle said of Kadri as a winger and as a centre. “That bodes well for him. From my assessment of him, he was a much more effective player, and he wasn’t as vulnerable to the things that I thought would not allow him to play [in the NHL]. Turning the puck over in critical areas, making bad line changes and string people out. All those kind of things. I’ll let you fill in the blanks.”
- Another thing to watch for Thursday is the return of former Leafs winger Joey Crabb, who is on an odd first line with Alex Ovechkin just as he once played a lot with Phil Kessel in Toronto. Not a bad gig for a guy who has spent a lot of his career in the minors.
JVR - Bozak - Kessel
McClement - Grabovski - Kulemin
Frattin - Kadri - Komarov
Hamilton - Steckel - Orr
Phaneuf - Kostka
Liles - Gunnarsson
Fraser - Franson
Ovechkin - Beagle - Crabb
Wolski - Backstrom - Brouwer
Chimera - Ribeiro - Ward
Hendricks - Johansson - Fehr
Alzner - Green
Erskine - Carlson
Schultz - Kundratek