With the NHL lockout now in full swing, and the players beginning to migrate over to Europe and Russia, members of the Toronto Maple Leafs are also beginning find their places throughout various leagues.
On Sept. 15th the Maple Leafs announced that they were assigning 22 players to the AHL affiliate Toronto Marlies.
The list included: Jake Gardiner, Korbinian Holzer, Nazem Kadri and Joe Colbourne.
Of the more prominent Leafs’ mainstays only Mikail Grobovski and Nikolai Kulemin have decided to travel overseas for the duration of the lockout.
Here are the Maple Leafs’ players who have confirmed their hockey plans:
One of the Maple Leafs’ best two-way forwards is heading to Russia to play with CSKA Moscow. Grabovski will have one heck of a mentor as he will play with Detroit Red Wings forward Pavel Datsuyk, widely considered the best two-way centre in the NHL.
This can truly be seen as a positive move for Grabovski’s continued development and perhaps his ascension into the upper echelon of NHL centres.
The Leafs left-winger had one of his most disappointing seasons last year with Toronto but he is off to the KHL to play with Metallurg Magnitogorsk, alongside Penguins centre Evgeni Malkin and Senators defenceman Sergei Gonchar.
Perhaps playing with these ultra-talented players who have undergone some seasonal highs and lows will be able to re-ignite the talented Leafs’ winger.
Once considered a main rebuilding piece in the Burke-era Franson has been a bit disappointing playing in only 57 games last season while being scratched in other games.
Franson signed with the Brynas in the Swedish Elite League to play during the lockout but his future in Toronto remains uncertain. Franson is currently a restricted free agent and has not inked a deal with the Leafs.
The talented defenceman is considered one of the Leafs’ key players and despite being rumored in several attempts at blockbuster trades, GM Brian Burke has refused to move him.
Gardiner is the Leafs’ best young defenceman and joined the Marlies for their deep playoff run last season and played exceptionally in the 17 games.
The big defenceman has been a rock on the Marlies’ blue-line for the last two seasons. He had been preparing to make the jump into the NHL for this season and is considered more than ready for the big dance.
Holzer will now gain valuable experience in the talent-inflated AHL.
With 51 games over three years under his belt for the Maple Leafs, some believed Kadri was going to play primarily in the NHL this season. Realistically his offensive prowess is outweighed by his defensive deficiencies, a weakness he hopes to improve with the Marlies.
The hulking centre was likely to see significant time with the Maple Leafs this season but the time with Marlies should also serve him well. He was good but not dominant for the Marlies last season and can continue to refine his powerful game while continuing to get stronger.
After a difficult season that included injuries and being a healthy scratch numerous times, Komisarek is heading back to school. He will attend the University of Michigan for the first time in 12 years in order to complete his degree.