The clock struck zero on Nikita Soshnikov’s conditioning stint with the Toronto Marlies on Sunday and… wouldn’t you know it, the man they call “Loop Hole Lou” managed to find a way around trading his young forward. Toronto Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello was facing a potentially difficult situation with Soshnikov returning to the Leafs’ lineup, but he managed to buy himself a bit more time by placing the 24-year-old Russian on the team’s IR, despite playing five games for the Marlies. Injured? Apparently that’s a matter of opinion…
“There's no illegality to this,” Lamoriello said on Monday morning. “We're not doing anything that isn't the normal process.”
When asked if Soshnikov is in the team’s longterm plans, Lamoriello brushed at the assertion. “When he's healthy, yes,” Lamoriello said. “When that comes about, but we have to get him in with the NHL practices and make those determining factors with everyone. This is not something uncommon. I don't know what the question is.”
Still, the Leafs will have to make a decision on Soshinkov’s future in short order. He cannot be assigned back to the Marlies without having to clear waivers. In fact, only rookies Travis Dermott and Kasperi Kapanen can be re-assigned without needing waivers, but both players have earned their spot with the Leafs. That leaves Soshnikov, Josh Leivo and veteran Matt Martin as the most likely targets to be on the next flight out of town.
Leivo, despite previous reports to the contrary, has not requested a trade according to Lamoriello.
That leaves Martin as the odd man out. The veteran enforcer has been a healthy scratch as of late and with the Leafs on a real hot streak, it would practically take a miracle for him to get back into the lineup. His former team, the New York Islanders, have reportedly expressed interest in acquiring him via trade. Could this be the solution to the Leafs’ lineup log jam?