Toronto Maple Leafs: Training camp, former players speak out, roster long shots

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 14: Joffrey Lupul
TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 14: Joffrey Lupul /

With Toronto Maple Leafs hockey back, we look at the recent news and what to look forward to next as preseason hockey gets underway.

It has been a long time coming, but the Toronto Maple Leafs will drop the puck on preseason hockey on the road against the Ottawa Senators.

In the inaugural ToT Leafs report, here are some thoughts on the recent news surrounding the Leafs and what to look watch for.

Training Camp news

The team reported to training camp in Niagara Falls with 73 players and by Sunday night that number was trimmed down to 49 players. Among the 24 cut were seven are players who will be starting their season in the CHL this week including: Cole Coskey (Saginaw), Marc-Olivier Duquette (Drummondville), Fedor Gordeev (Flint), Nicolas Mattinen (London), Ryan McGregor (Sarnia), Eemeli Rasanen (Kingston) and Ian Scott (Prince Albert).

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The remaining 17 players were assigned to the Toronto Marlies camp including: Vladimir Bobylev, Jeremy Bracco, Adam Brooks, Matias Cleland, Rich Clune, Jean Dupuy, Martins Dzierkals, Alex Gudbranson, Cal Heeter, Sam Jardine, Jeff King, Nikita Korostelev, Max Novak, J.J. Piccinich, Kristian Pospisil, Joshua Winquist and Nolan Valleau.

It was surprising to see Bracco and Brooks not see at least one or two preseason games. The Leafs now have 25 forwards, 17 defencemen and four goalies looking to showcase themselves this week before more decisions are made prior to the roster deadline ahead of the regular season.

The position to watch has to be the Leafs defence especially rookies Travis Dermott, Andreas Borgman and Calle Rosen. There are a couple of spots available on the blueline and it could finally be time for a player like Martin Marincin to be worried about where he is at the end of camp.

Former and current Leafs players speak out against management

The Leafs have been able to maneuver around any salary cap issues with the use of the long-term injured reserve. Now Jared Cowen and Joffrey Lupul are accusing management of cheating the system.

Cowen commented at Colorado Avalanche’s training camp saying that he was not happy with the way things ended in Toronto,

“I wish teams would have more of an interest in taking better care of their players instead of whatever their goal or mindset was there,” Cowen said in an interview with Adrian Dater of BSN “Basically, they got me, figured out that I was hurt, they didn’t want to deal with it and they got rid of me.”

To be fair to Cowen, the Ottawa Senators needed the Leafs to take on salary to make the Dion Phaneuf trade work and he had a convenient cap hit for a buyout. An arbitrator ruled that the Leafs were fair with the way they handled Cowen’s buyout. Now he looks to make Colorado playing on a professional tryout.

Sunday night, social media were all over comments apparently made by Joffrey Lupul on instagram. The 33-year old failed his physical at last year’s training camp, sitting out the entire season. Now according to Lupul, he is awaiting a call and is ready to go. When comments about his failed physical were posted, Lupul suggested that things were not being handled properly.

The league can investigate if players are being placed on LTIR if they are not eligible so if Lupul is ready to go, the Leafs will have to deal with that. However, considering how he sat out an entire season and did not make any attempt to try and make a comeback he went off the grid.

It would be tough to expect Lupul and his $5.25-million cap hit to be a problem for the Leafs this season even with these comments.

Long shots to make the roster

Mike Babcock liked the competitive and quickness what Miro Aaltonen showed in training camp. With a log jam of forwards looking to make the team, the Finnish forward will need to be spectacular the rest of camp if he expects to make the team. He is probably destined for the AHL this season and a potential call up option at some point this season.

Frederik Gauthier was making progress towards securing a full time gig with the Leafs but an injury in the playoffs derailed his season. The long recovery meant that he would not be ready for the start of the season. He has taken the ice but he did not participate in scrimmage which shows that he needs more time.

Dominic Moore was brought in as the odds on favourite to land the fourth line center job. Gauthier will be better off spending another season with the Marlies playing significant minutes and be an option sometime down the road in case of an injury and ready for a permanent move next season.

Carl Grundstrom only has two options available, make the NHL or prepare for another season in Sweden. The odds are stacked against him considering the competition for a job this season. With the addition of Patrick Marleau, the left wing is a position is now a long shot for the 19-year old.

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Grundstrom has impressed management with his competitiveness and tenacity since he made his debut with the Marlies at the end of last season. He could be a player that replaces Leo Komarov down the road but that will not come until the decision is made at the end of the season.