Maple Leafs Demote 23 Players

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The Toronto Maple Leafs, prior to this afternoon, were running one of the biggest training camps in hockey: 70 players, all ostensibly vying for NHL jobs.  With a single press release, all of that changed, as the club axed 23 hopefuls and brought their roster down to a more manageable total of 47.

Who got sent out?

We’ll start by looking at the longest shots: the players who entered training camp on tryout deals and needed to show really well to even earn a minor league contract.  Unsurprisingly, a bunch were sent out, but not all of them were consigned to the dustbin of Maple Leafs’ history.

In late August, we profiled seven of those players that entered camp without a contract, and of that group four were let go while three will enter camp with Toronto’s AHL affiliate:

  • Garrett Clarke – Pesky defenseman  with high skill but an occasionally problematic attitude was released by Toronto.
  • Dave Cowan – Big defensive defenseman was assigned to the Marlies.
  • Mitchell Heard – Heard made waves with an offensive outburst while playing against the rookies, but couldn’t cut it in the main camp; he was released.
  • Kyle Neuber – Former Columbus property is an enforcer; he was assigned to the Marlies
  • Mike Schwindt – 6’4” defenseman has passed through the NHL Draft twice now, and he also failed to stick with Toronto. Released.
  • Matt Stanisz – A defenseman with average size and above-average offensive skills, Stanisz didn’t show enough and was released.
  • Dennis Urban – Small offensive defenseman got a shot last year with Toronto’s ECHL affiliate; he’s been assigned to the Marlies.

Also sent out were a ton of junior age players, all of whom will report to their respective CHL clubs:

  • David Broll – left winger was drafted late in 2011; it is extremely unsurprising that he was sent out.
  • Sam Carrick -  2010 draft pick isn’t old enough to play in the AHL as of yet and didn’t put in an overly impressive season in the OHL last year.
  • Andrew Crescenzi – undrafted 6’5” forward isn’t old enough for the pros.
  • Josh Leivo – as with Broll, a 2011 draft pick who had no chance of playing professional hockey this season.
  • Josh Nicholls – despite a nice year in the WHL, Nicholls isn’t old enough for the professional level yet
  • Sondre Olden – 2010 draft pick will play his first season of North American major junior with the Erie Otters.
  • Stuart Percy – another 2011 draft pick.
  • Brad Ross – didn’t step forward offensively last year; he’s clearly been passed by Greg McKegg, taken 19 picks later in 2010.
  • Garret Sparks – another 2011 draft pick.

Finally, seven others were sent to the Marlies:

  • Will Acton – versatile college forward will try to catch on with the Leafs’ organization.
  • Tyler Brenner – college defender played eight games with the Marlies last year, recording six points; he must be disappointed to be sent out so early.
  • Matt Caruana – split time between ECHL and AHL last season; he had no chance at a job with the Leafs.
  • Jamie Devane – OHL tough guy is entering his first professional season.
  • Brayden Irwin – had a disappointing season with the Marlies last year and it isn’t surprising to see him cut early.
  • Kelsey Wilson – veteran AHL enforcer is an unsurprising demotion.
  • Josh Engel – 27-year old is a minor-league journeyman.

No major surprises among the departures, although it is a little disappointing to see Brad Ross shipped out so early.  However, there were some surprising survivors of this first round of cuts:

  • Richard Greenop – split his second professional season between the AHL/ECHL; he’s a tough guy who would have seemed a logical choice to auto-send to the minors.
  • Ryan Hamilton – journeyman has never put up big numbers in five full AHL seasons.
  • Dale Mitchell – pint-sized forward has yet to prove he can be an AHL regular.