In an ABSOLUTELY SHOCKING TURN OF EVENTS-
No, haha, I’m just kidding. In a move that was only a matter of time, the Leafs announced today that they have returned forward Josh Leivo to the Toronto Marlies. Leivo played a trio of games with the club on emergency recall in the wake of injuries to Leo Komarov, Peter Holland, Nikita Soshnikov, and Brad Boyes. That means with Leivo being sent back down, one of them appears set to return.
I suppose there was somewhat of a decision to make here given that Connor Brown is also currently playing with the team on an emergency recall designation. So, the Leafs could’ve sent Brown down instead. But he scored a huge game-tying goal for the Leafs last night and has 3 points in 4 games. Plus, Leivo’s now played 12 games for the Leafs this season and 28 in his NHL career. Brown’s last four games for the Leafs have also been his first four games for the Leafs, so the management team likely wanted to get more of a look at him regardless of who they think is playing better right now.
As for the future of Leivo, part of me wonders if that’s the last we’ll ever see of him in a Leafs jersey. Don’t get me wrong, he’s played great for the Marlies, and he had 5 goals in 12 games for the Leafs this season. And obviously he’s still fairly young. So if the team brings him back I wouldn’t give it a second thought – in fact, given what he’s proven so far in his development and given that he’s eligible for waivers next season, I’d be a little disappointed if Leivo wasn’t on the Leafs next season if he’s still in the organization.
But will he still be in the organization come next season? He’s a decent prospect, but he’s also one in a slew of young forwards within the organization that are coming up through the pipeline. I think the Leafs are certainly at a point where they need to start making decisions on some of these guys in order to make room for everybody both at the NHL and AHL level. Leivo for my money makes more sense than some others as far as trying to ship out in a trade in return for other assets.
Now I’m not under any delusions here, I recognize Leivo’s trade value likely isn’t overly high. But given his contract status and the state of the organization’s prospect pool up front, trying to get something in return for him – whether that’s a mid-round draft pick or maybe the equivalent of a Leivo-level prospect on defense or in net, might make sense. And you could always try throwing him in a bigger deal in an attempt to sweeten the pot a little bit. Again, he’s not gonna sweeten that pot too much, but he does a little bit. At least a lot more than a guy like Stuart Percy does, who for some reason the sort of people who read Eklund think can be used to swindle another team.
Anyways, I suppose it’ll be a sort of, kind of, maybe vaguely interesting storyline to watch in the off-season. As for right now, Leivo heads back to the Marlies, Connor Brown stays with the Leafs, and we await to see which Leaf forward is set to return.