Jan 18: Spezza, Biega, Kellman, and Ritchie have all cleared waivers. Dell was claimed by the New Jersey Devils.
Jan 17: The Toronto Maple Leafs responded after losing rookie forward Nicholas Robertson to injury Saturday by placing a couple of their players on waivers Sunday. Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reports that third-string goaltender Aaron Dell and veteran forward Jason Spezza are among those on waivers. Detroit Red Wings’ Alex Biega and San Jose Sharks’ Joel Kellman also made the list. The Calgary Flames also placed forward Brett Ritchie on waivers after signing him to a one-year deal earlier today.
Toronto’s roster moves all comes back to Saturday night’s injury of rookie forward Nick Robertson, who is expected to miss time. Because of the lack of cap space to recall a replacement for Robertson (other than Travis Boyd), the team was forced to make some roster moves, including risking losing Aaron Dell, who the team has been holding on to as a third-string goalie, waiting for the goalie market needs die down to pass him through waivers. There was talk that Toronto might be able to use the new emergency recall rule, but The Athletic’s James Mirtle shot that down, reporting that rule can only be used in COVID-19 cases. Unfortunately for Toronto, the team will likely lose the former San Jose Sharks’ netminder. Dell, who struggled behind San Jose’s weak defense last season, was brought in to serve as a third option in case either Frederik Andersen or Jack Campbell struggle or are injured during the season. He will almost assuredly be claimed with many experts suggesting that he will be claimed by either the Edmonton Oilers or New Jersey Devils.
Spezza is another interesting candidate. Teams might be interested in bringing in the veteran forward, but Johnston reports that Spezza isn’t interested in playing for any other team other than Toronto as he wants to remain close to his family. The Athletic’s Jonas Siegel reports that the 37-year-old was ready to retire in the offseason had the Leafs not brought him back. He has played in all three of the Maple Leafs games so far this season. NOTE: Spezza’s agent Rick Curran told Johnston that Spezza will retire if he is claimed by any other NHL team.
Biega is no stranger to waivers, but the 32-year-old has served as a sixth/seventh defenseman for years. He played in 49 games with the Red Wings last year and would make a good candidate for the taxi squad as well. He has not appeared in either of the Red Wings two games this year. Kellman appeared in the Sharks’ first game of the season, but was a healthy scratch Saturday and now looks headed for the taxi squad as well. The 26-year-old scored seven points in 31 games for the Sharks last season.