Nikita Soshnikov is still in purgatory, somewhere between the Air Canada Centre and Ricoh Coliseum.
With his AHL conditioning stint up on Sunday with the Marlies, Soshnikov remains on the NHL injured reserve list, permitting Toronto general manager Lou Lamoriello to head off a roster decision.
Eyebrows were raised Monday when Soshnikov wasn’t cleared to play. Coming off a lower body injury, Soshnikov looked fine on the farm, with two goals, three assists and 17 shots in five games, but Lamoriello told reporters the Leafs were not circumventing any CBA rules, as the player had never been taken off IR, a juggling act other NHL teams have pulled off this year.
Activating Soshnikov would have put the Leafs one man over the roster limit of 23 and though the team could’ve sent winger Kasperi Kapanen back without waivers, he’s played too well to be taken out.
That would leave one of two forwards who’d have to be risked on waivers or be traded, Josh Leivo or Matt Martin, with the club not wanting to lose either man.
At some point, Soshnikov will have to be assessed by a doctor, but the Leafs might be able to stretch this saga out a couple of weeks until closer to the Feb. 26 trade deadline when Soshnikov is moved or others are swapped to re-open a roster spot. Soshnikov also has a contract clause allowing him to return to play in Russia if he’s not on an NHL roster, however coach Mike Babcock had endorsed his NHL future with Toronto.
Auston Matthews has faced Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Lightning as an opponent and sat with him in the Atlantic Division all-stars dressing room.
“He’s big, you can all see that,” Matthews said of the . “Most of the time, you’re not going to beat him off just one shot, you have to get guys in front of him and get second chances.
Matthews, Babcock and many Leafs could not help but look at Monday and Saturday in Pittsburgh for that matter as ‘measuring stick’ games against possible playoff opponents.
“Any time you’re playing good teams you want to know where you’re at,” Babcock said. “We’ve been lucky, we’ve had a lot of good teams in (Nashville and Anaheim as part of this home stand) and this will be a fun week for us.
“Bottom line, we feel we can get better.”
The Leafs are heading back to their ancestral home at Maple Leaf Gardens, which is now Ryerson University’s Mattamy Athletic Centre, for an open practice on Tuesday morning at 11 a.m. Tickets were to be distributed through the team’s website with a small amount of walk-up seats in the 2,300-seat facility.
“I can still remember going to a Detroit game in the ’93 playoffs (as a 13-year-old),” said Toronto-born centre Dominic Moore. ‘We didn’t get tickets very often, but my dad got some through work. I’m sure he had to push hard for them because he knew what a passionate fan I was. I was speechless to find out I was going on the day of the game.
“The atmosphere at The Gardens was incredible. I skated on it once, through a (skills) contest Wayne Gretzky ran, though I couldn’t have been older than 12.”
The Gardens was the home of the team from, 1931-99 and as part of the reno job that Ryerson and Loblaws undertook in the early 2000s, a gym and new rink were created on the upper floors beneath the famous dome.
Defenceman Travis Dermott was a Newmarket toddler when the Gardens closed and has seen games there only on old televised highlights.
“It’s going to be cool to go back and see where the origins are,” he said.
DANE FLAME BURNING
Frederik Andersen tried to help Denmark’s hockey team get in the Olympics, but even if they’d made it, no NHLers are in South Korea. So the goalie has taken on the role of cheerleader.
“We have a couple of curling teams and some skiers,” Andersen said. “I try and have some of the Olympics on TV when I’m at home, but the time difference makes it a little tough. I’ll cheer if I catch some of them.”
Michael Blunden of the Belleville Senators has been suspended two games by the AHL for an elbow to the head of Marlies Andreas Borgman last week. It was Borgman’s first game on the farm after the Leafs demoted him, but he came back a couple of days later.
Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies