Breaking: Leafs have about 24 hours to make a critical decision

Trade or waivers? They are forced to make a decision by tomorrow.

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The Toronto Maple Leafs have an important decision to make before the clock strikes noon on Saturday. Nikita Soshnikov has been playing for the Toronto Marlies on loan, in the form of a conditioning stint.

It's what allowed him to go back there waiver-free to get his legs going again, and according to the top reporters around the league, in order to showcase him for a trade.

Well, the time has come to make a decision.

Today is the last day for Soshnikov to play in the AHL. If they don't immediately put him on the active roster, which at this point seems impossible, he must go through waivers if he isn't traded. At that point, he will likely be claimed for free by another team.

The only reason for anyone to give up an asset for him is to beat the line on the waiver wire.

Toronto currently has all 23 roster spots filled. With Soshnikov back, they'd be at 24. Kasperi Kapanen and Travis Dermott are the only two players not named Auston Matthews or Mitch Marner who can be sent down to the AHL without passing through waivers.

But there's almost no chance of that happening. Dermott has been a revelation, and Kapanen is finally showing Mike Babcock that he deserves to stay.

With the option of putting him on the active roster all but inexistent, Lou Lamoriello has just over 24 hours to decide - waive him, or trade him?