Toronto Maple Leafs: Tough roster decisions a result of strong competition

SUNRISE, FL - DECEMBER 28: Head Coach Mike Babcock of the Toronto Maple Leafs reacts to third period action against the Florida Panthers at the BB
SUNRISE, FL - DECEMBER 28: Head Coach Mike Babcock of the Toronto Maple Leafs reacts to third period action against the Florida Panthers at the BB /

The ongoing discussion surrounding the few remaining roster spots on the Toronto Maple Leafs will not have an easy solution.

With one final preseason game left, the Toronto Maple Leafs have to make some tough decisions. Considering the amount of uncertainty facing the team last season, this challenge is something Mike Babcock is probably enjoying.

The first three forward lines look to be locked up while the fourth line still faces uncertainty with Dominic Moore and Miro Aaltonen fighting for the last center spot. With Moore playing against Detroit on Friday alongside the rest of the NHL lineup, he might have the inside track. Aaltonen has impressed many but the fact that he does not require waivers could make that decision easier.

There is also the possibility of Aaltonen claiming that final spot down the middle and Moore staying on as one of the extra forwards. The team will likely keep only seven defencemen and 14 forwards if Aaltonen makes the team. If he goes to the Toronto Marlies then the team could go with eight defencemen and 13 forwards.

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Jose Leivo will occupy one of the extra forward spots and will likely come in if there is an injury. If Aaltonen makes the team, then Moore will join Leivo as an extra forward because it makes no sense to put him on waivers considering the depth he provides down the middle. That means Eric Fehr is likely to be demoted to the AHL sine the Leafs would rather use the roster space for other options unless.

On defence is where the tough decision will need to be made, more specifically with Andreas Borgman and Calle Rosen. It appears that one of the two is auditioning for the final spot on the third pairing with Connor Carrick. Unfortunately for both players, neither one has been given any indication of their future which Babcock talked about on Friday.

This is a tough decision for the coaching staff to make which is not surprising considering the different styles both players bring. Rosen is a smooth skating defenceman while Borgman brings size, physicality and has offensive upside. It appears this decision means that Martin Marincin is not going to see a lot (if any) action with the Leafs.

Unfortunately for Travis Dermott this likely means he goes back to the Marlies along with Kasperi Kapanen who are both kicking down the door to make the team. This is the issue when there is too many options available and the younger player does not have to pass through waivers. Both Kapanen and Dermott are at a point in their development where they can afford another season in the minors so that when next season rolls around there is no question as to whether they will make the team.

Next: 2017-18 Preview - Looking at the defence

For now Borgman and Rosen will be the decision that Babcock will take a lot of time to think about. Luckily for the Leafs this is the result of strong competition which is only going to make this team better as they try to contend.