Believe it or not, the Toronto Maple Leafs won't have an enforcer to start the season.
The Leafs made the last step toward their final cuts on Monday morning, putting Colton Orr, Frazer McLaren and Korbinian Holzer on waivers for the purpose of re-assignment to the minors.
They also reassigned 2014 first-rounder William Nylander back to Sweden for the season.
Those cuts will leave the Leafs with 24 players on the roster, with the team able to get down under the 23-man roster limit by placing David Booth and his broken foot on injured reserve.
The most significant aspect of the moves, however, was the fact Toronto coach Randy Carlyle ditched both of his fighters in Orr and McLaren, who have been mainstays on the worst fourth line in hockey for the last two years.
Instead, young players like Brandon Kozun and Carter Ashton have stuck with the team.
Those decisions came out of an internal battle brought on by a summer filled with changes, with new president Brendan Shanahan helping spearhead a push for more skill throughout the Leafs lineup.
“We wanted to get to Wednesday and beyond with the team that gave us the best chance of winning,” Leafs GM Dave Nonis said. “It doesn’t mean that Frazer or Colton won’t be with us at some time during the year. We made a statement early on [in camp] that if certain players played well enough to make the team, then we would have to make room for them.”
“Some people have stepped to the front of the line,” Carlyle said. “There were some tough decisions… but we felt that we would be best suited to go in this direction.”
Nonis added that the Leafs want to get down to 22 players by Wednesday, in large part due to cap reasons. That’s likely bad news for rookie Josh Leivo, who had a good camp but was in tough due to all of the competition for roster spots.
The day’s other surprise involved rookie defenceman Stuart Percy making the final cut. With Cody Franson unlikely to be ready for Wednesday’s opener against Montreal because of a knee injury, Percy is expected to start the season in the NHL after beating out Holzer for the final spot on the blueline.
Percy has been lining up alongside Roman Polak on Toronto’s third pair of late.
Given all of the expected machinations, here’s how the Leafs roster will likely look for opening night:
JVR – Bozak – Kessel
Lupul – Kadri – Kozun
Winnik – Holland – Frattin
Komarov – Santorelli – Clarkson
Phaneuf – Robidas
Gardiner – Rielly
Percy – Polak
Extra: Ashton, Booth (IR), FransonReport Typo/Error