In mid-summer, exact roster sizes and cap figures are rarely exactly what they’ll be on opening night. Cuts will be made in training camp, and some teams will still have trades to make. Here’s a run down of some teams that have tough decisions to make.
Team roster sizes are per GeneralFanger:
- Arizona Coyotes (12F, 8D, 2G): Rebuilding team are a trend in oversized roster, as they look to acquire what amount to lottery tickets, with last-chance veterans and any prospect they can get their hands on being invited to show their worth. The current Arizona roster is missing three restricted free agents, Tobias Rieder, Michael Stone, and Connor Murphy, and doesn’t take into account the number of strong prospects the Coyotes may be looking to graduate this year, like Christian Dvorak. The Coyotes will mostly be looking to create space on their backend, and if you consider the recently signed defensemen, or those who’ve played regularly in the NHL for years, to be relative locks, that should leave Murphy, Kevin Connauton, Jarred Tinordi, Jamie McBain, and Klas Dahlbeck fighting for the final couple of spots.
- Detroit Red Wings (18F, 5D, 1G): Once the Red Wings re-sign restricted free agents Danny DeKeyser and Petr Mrazek, they’ll be more or less set outside of the forward group. After that, they’ll have to cut five forwards. Joe Vitale missed almost all of last season, and will likely spend the year on long-term injured reserve, but it gets competitive after that. While it’s impossible to assume the recently signed Steve Ott is a lock for a spot, given how much he played last year, it still looks likely that younger players like Andreas Athanasiou, Teemu Pulkkinen, and Anthony Mantha will have to earn their spots in the lineup, rather than be given them for pre-designed holes.
- Toronto Maple Leafs (14F, 6D, 1G): The Maple Leafs are only at 21 players on the roster, but that number doesn’t count the still unsigned RFA defenseman Martin Marincin, top prospect Mitch Marner, a backup goalie, the recently acquired Kerby Rychel, who wanted out of Columbus due to a lack of opportunity, or players like Nikita Soshnikov, Brendan Leipsic, Josh Leivo, Connor Brown, Rinat Valiev, Zach Hyman, and Connor Carrick, who became contributors in the NHL down the stretch last year, and who many observers assume to be significant parts of Toronto’s future. Unable to carry 31 players on a roster, the Leafs are going to have to make some decisions at camp over which players are forcing their way onto the roster, and which veterans they’re willing to humble with a demotion. The number counts Joffrey Lupul, who GM Lou Lamoriello has said he’s unsure of the future of, and Tobias Lindberg, who it’s hard to imagine playing over several of the aforementioned players. Still, given the sheer quantity of players, this may be the last chance for players like Leivo, Peter Holland, and Byron Froese to demand their long-term roles with the team.
- Winnipeg Jets (17F, 7D, 2G): The Jets’ situation is difficult because they’ve had a pretty good group of skaters stuck in place for a few years, and also have one of the NHL’s best prospect pools. It’s hard to imagine them not using second overall pick Patrick Laine right away, and so with a 26-man roster, and Jacob Trouba still to sign, there are going to be some younger players who feel ready for their shot, and end up disappointed, and even a guy like Quinton Howden, who came to a new organization after a similar glut of talented young players forced him out of Florida, may not be able to lock down a spot. This number doesn’t even count a lot of the Jets best prospects, like Kyle Connor, Nic Petan, or Josh Morrissey, so even veterans on one-way deals, like Brian Strait and Anthony Peluso, should be looking over their shoulders.