The Toronto Maple Leafs are in quite the peculiar situation. Loaded with depth in the forward position, players like Josh Leivo have been left by the wayside trying to find a way to get into the lineup, without any success.
Impending free agents fill out the roster, and until Lou Lamoriello decides if he's going to keep them or not by the trade deadline, guys like Leivo have to sit and wait for their turn.
Despite playing nearly no games by November, Leivo signed a one-year contract extension with the Leafs, believing that he would eventually find some game time. But we are in February now, and he's played only 12 games - a healthy scratch for over 40 games.
Hence the reason for the reported trade request on Saturday night by Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos.
Ian Pilver, Leivo's agent, spoke out following that breaking news.
"Josh is a player who would stand in front of a train for the Toronto Maple Leafs,” Pulver said according to The Athletic's Jonas Siegel. "Josh was drafted by the Leafs and he wants to be a long-time Leaf. He would love to be in the lineup? Monday night, and every night thereafter. Having said that, he hasn't been in the lineup for a long time, and hasn’t played much in the past two seasons. He has reached a point in his career where he simply needs to play regularly.
"Lou Lamoriello has had open lines of communication with Josh on this issue. Not unexpectedly, the Maple Leafs in general and Lou in particular have been nothing but first class."
Pilver would not confirm the report that his client requested a trade, but he did not deny it either - he emphasized that Leivo loves playing for Toronto and would want to retire in the blue and white uniform. But at this stage of his career, he needs to be playing hockey, and he isn't getting that opportunity with the Leafs.
If Leivo had his way, he would never leave Toronto. The trade request was not about his unhappiness with the organization, as most suspected. Rather, it's purely about his desire to lace up his skates and earn his paycheque.
Should Lamoriello decide to trade one or two of James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak, and Leo Komarov, then a lot changes. Spots are all of a sudden open.
Now does Mike Babcock reinsert Matt Martin into the lineup instead. What about Nikita Soshnikov, who's on a conditioning stint with the Toronto Marlies?
Kasperi Kapanen has all but surpassed all these players on the depth chart, so he has first dibs on a permanent spot in the lineup.
One must suspect that if Lamoriello ultimately ends up deciding to keep all his impending UFAs, that Leivo will be traded in consequence. The only issue becomes: who takes him? A player who can barely get a dozen games in and is made a healthy scratch for more than triple the amount of games is hard to sell. His value to a team is relatively unknown, because he hasn't been showcased.
If Lamoriello truly intends on trading him, Babcock will likely have to insert him into the lineup within the next few weeks to let teams see what he can do.
Let's see what happens.