The Toronto Maple Leafs have placed Nick Shore on waivers today, as Mitch Marner nears his return. The team will have to make several other moves tomorrow when the high-priced forward is eligible to return from long-term injured reserve. Shore has found himself on the outside looking in more often than not since Sheldon Keefe took over as head coach, and seemed an obvious choice to try and sneak through.
It will be interesting to see if Shore does make it through waivers though. While he has just three points in 21 games for the Maple Leafs this season, his versatility may be of some use around the league. The 27-year old is a legitimate option at center or wing and has experience penalty killing. Before this year—during which he has been used almost exclusively as a defensive option—Shore actually had strong possession numbers in his more than 200 games of NHL experience.
Still, even with a contract that carries just a $750K cap hit, there may not be teams that can really fit him in. More than half the league has used long-term injured reserve space at one point or another this season and sometimes can’t justify bringing in another NHL body. The fact that Shore earns that $750K whether he plays in the NHL or AHL is of no matter to the Maple Leafs, who routinely stash one-way deals in the minor leagues.
Marner’s return puts the Maple Leafs at close to full health—Trevor Moore remains sidelined—but will also force them into a tight cap crunch. As Chris Johnston of Sportsnet explains, the team will likely send Nic Petan, Pierre Engvall and Martin Marincin back down tomorrow along with Shore to create enough room to activate Marner.