The Toronto Maple Leafs are expecting to get back two key players from long-term injured reserve as defenseman Travis Dermott and forward Zach Hyman are both eligible to return on Saturday when Toronto faces Montreal. While that is great news for Maple Leafs fans, it might be quite a challenge as the team will have to make quite a few changes to their roster to fit those two back into their salary cap structure.
On Saturday’s Hockey Night in Canada, Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reported that Toronto may have to clear four players from their roster in order to get Dermott and Hyman onto their roster. He said the moves could be demotions to the Toronto Marlies, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if Toronto made a trade or put a player on waivers.
Elliotte Friedman suggested in the same segment that Toronto is seeking to trade Nic Petan, who the Maple Leafs acquired at the trade deadline last season and isn’t a favorite of head coach Mike Babcock. Petan only played five games after the trade last year and has only appeared in three this year.
Dermott is coming off offseason shoulder surgery, while Hyman had surgery to repair his ACL which he tore during the playoffs last season. With the two on LTIR, the Maple Leafs, who are under the cap by just $380K, have saved $3.11MM on the cap. But when activated, the Maple Leafs will have to clear that much in order to keep both on the roster. While Petan might be an obvious choice, none of their bottom-line players (offense or defense) make much more than the minimum, which likely would force the team to make multiple moves, barring a bigger trade.