Toronto Maple Leafs make Final Cuts: Jake Gardiner Makes The Team

October 3rd, 2011 No Comments

Heading into training camp it was expected that the biggest battle for playing time would be up front, while on the back end, the top six defensemen had all but been decided.

A strong training camp and injuries to a few keys forwards (mainly Tim Connolly and Nazem Kadri) have led to rookie forward Matt Frattin making the opening day roster while, in what many perceive as a surprise, Keith Aulie (who played very well last season but not so great in training camp) was sent down to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ AHL affiliate (Toronto Marlies) in favor of keeping Jake Gardiner, who had an impressive training camp as well.

Given the way Gardiner played in training camp nobody is all that shocked that he managed to make the club, but the demotion of Aulie is a bit of a head scratcher, especially when you consider just how good he was last season and how poor Komisarek played throughout the 2010-11 season.

Komisarek was nothing more than adequate in training camp, and nobody was confusing him with Bobby Orr, although he did score a goal the other night!

In the opinion of many fans it was Mike Komisarek that deserved to be demoted and not Aulie, but Aulie’s soft training camp combined with Komisarek’s no movement clause and his disproportionate contract made it all but impossible for Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke and Leafs head coach Ron Wilson to send Komisarek down to the AHL.

With Auile still looking like a legitimate NHL defenseman many fans are calling for Komisarek to be moved. While Burke has done a tremendous job of cleaning house the past few years, it would appear as if a move involving Komisarek is all fodder, at least for the moment.

The Leafs will look to use Gardiner on the power play in an effort to spark their offense, but make no mistake about it, Gardiner will be afforded every chance to stay with the Leafs top two defensive units and will see upwards of 15-18 minutes per game. Frattin is expected to get a taste of the top two lines as long as Tim Connolly and Nazem Kadri are nursing injuries. He too displays a measure of offensive skill, an area the Maple Leafs are in dire need of improvement.

Also demoted to the Marlies were Forwards Joey Crabb, Darryl Boyce and Mike Zigomanis, while defenseman Matt Lashoff also failed to make the cut.

Until next time,

Peace!

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