Breaking: Leafs make two AHL call ups

Leafs fans finally get their wish…

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The Toronto Maple Leafs have announced that they’ve recalled forward Andreas Johnsson from the AHL’s Toronto Marlies in advance of tomorrow’s game against the Dallas Stars.

Additionally, the team also announced that defenceman Calle Rosen has also been recalled on an emergency basis.

Leafs fans have been calling for a Johnsson call up for awhile and there are some analysts who believe the 23 year old Swedish winger could be a potential replacement for pending unrestricted free-agent James van Riemsdyk, if JVR elects to leave the team this upcoming offseason. Overhyped? Maybe, but the smooth skating Johnsson does have an impressive AHL pedigree. In 54 games for the Marlies this season, Johnsson has an outstanding 26 goals and 54 points, good enough for the team lead.

He’s an intriguing prospect in the Leafs’ pipeline and represents a MAJOR draft score for former Leafs general manager Dave Nonis. Johnsson was selected in the seventh round (202nd overall) of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, chosen behind players like Frederik Gauthier, Carter Vergaeghe, Fabrice Herzog and Antoine Bibeau.

It remains to be seen whether or not Johnsson finally makes his NHL debut when the Leafs take on the Stars tomorrow night, but you can bet that Leafs fans will be watching regardless.

As for Rosen, the 24-year-old defenseman has been recalled likely due to an injury or illness to Leafs defenceman Nikita Zaitsev. No word yet on the full extent of Zaitsev’s injury or illness, but he’s not expected to play tomorrow against the Stars.

The financial implications of Matthews’ injury could put Leafs in serious salary cap trouble

In case you missed it, Toronto Maple Leafs superstar Auston Matthews skated in a full practice with his team yesterday morning, but continued to wear the vaunted red jersey rather than his usual blue or white. 

For those not aware, red jerseys are reserved for injured players and are meant to signal “no contact” for teammates when running through drills. So, while it looks like Matthews isn’t yet ready to test out his injured shoulder with some physical contact, Leafs head coach Mike Babcock did offer up some encouraging news regarding Matthews’ health after practice.

That Dallas game, as TSN’s Mark Masters points out is this Thursday at the Air Canada Centre:

This means that the earlier Matthews could be back in the Leafs’ lineup would be Thursday against the Buffalo Sabres, but don’t count on it says Sportsnet reporter Chris Johnston.

“… next Tuesday’s visit to Tampa as the earliest No. 34 might play, and even then, there’s an argument to be made about the wisdom in holding him out for road games against the Lightning and Nashville Predators on March 22.”

More interestingly, Johnston reports on a potentially devastating financial development for the Leafs as it pertains to Matthews moving forward. According to Johnston, Matthews has a bonus clause in his contract that stipulates that if he finishes in the NHL’s top 10 forwards for goals-per-game, he cashes a banks a cool $2 million. With 28 goals in 53 games Matthews is currently on pace to earn his bonus, but what if he comes back in the final stretch of the season and falls out of the race? 

It’s a win-lose situations for the Leafs, as obviously they want to see their superstar get back into the lineup and light the lamp heading into the postseason, but with Matthews’ other bonus’ it’s likely that the team could be faced with a $4.55 million cap hit ding for 2018-19. Oh… and the team will need to cough up money for William Nylander as he becomes a restricted free-agent.

Now, it’s never a bad problem when you have to pay out money to players who have earned the money, but it’s still a problem that Leafs management will have to plan for regardless. That extra $4.55 million could come at the expense of one of the Leafs’ pending unrestricted free-agents like James van Riemsdyk or Tyler Bozak. It will also limit what the teams options in free-agency, as well.

For now though, the team isn’t worried about the financial details. Sure, behind the scenes I’m sure there’s a plan in place, but for now all the Leafs are worried about is getting their superstar centre back to peak performance for a lengthy Stanley Cup Playoff run.