— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) October 4, 2013
Not at all surprising, Mark Fraser was placed on long-term injured reserve Friday morning, allowing Toronto a little bit of salary cap breathing room (it’s sort of disgusting that it’s gotten to the point where player injuries can become advantageous). Rather than call up a defenceman to replace Fraser and keep a seven-man unit going, the Maple Leafs instead decided to call up Jamie Devane.
There was a move that had to be made, and neither was ideal, but the Leafs chose to go with 13 forwards rather than 7 defenceman, at least for the time being, which is a ticking time bomb if somebody gets hurt in warmups. It’s easier to go without a 12th forward than without a 6th defenceman for a full game whether you’re at home or on the road, especially in Randy Carlyle’s system where he tends to pay no attention to his fourth line wingers during the later stages of a game.
Then again, Carter Ashton played with a broken nose in Philly and could probably stand to sit a week, and Carlyle has yet to run seven defenceman in a lineup since taking control of the Maple Leafs. Morgan Rielly will leap into Fraser’s spot and probably get a few looks there before he’s inevitably sent down to Moose Jaw and John-Michael Liles gets recalled.
One would assume, anyway.
Six defencemen is fine as long nobody gets hurt after 5 p.m., or during the morning skate on the road where calling up a player becomes insanely difficult. Swapping Fraser for Devane doesn’t have to be the only move made, and the team can *gasp* make another one tomorrow or on the 9th or 10th when they go off to Nashville. I wouldn’t suspect the team is going to put itself into a position where playing with 5 defencemen for at least a game is a possibility.
Then again, the Maple Leafs Player Personnel Decision Tree indicates that Devane is up simply because Ashton physically can’t fight due to a broken nose. When in doubt, consult the tree. In the short-term though, this does mean Rielly’s first NHL game will likely come Saturday against Ottawa, which is always fun.