The Toronto Maple Leafs have an important decision to make on the future of young forward Nikita Soshnikov before the clock strikes noon ET tomorrow.
Soshnikov has been playing with the Leafs’ AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies, on a conditioning stint loan the past while, but here’s the thing: technically the 24-year-old should require waivers for such a demotion. Because the Leafs went the conditioning stint route however, they were able to bypass the NHL’s rules regarding AHL demotions. Well… at noon tomorrow that all changes.
Soshnikov will be returned to the Leafs tomorrow and, as a result, the Leafs will be pushed over the NHL’s roster cap of 23 players. That means they’ll either need to put Soshnikov on waivers, trade him or move another player off their active roster.
For Leafs president Brendan Shanahan and GM Lou Lamoriello, the time has come to make a decision.
Several prominent Leafs insiders have reported that the reasoning for Soshnikov’s AHL conditioning stint was to essentially showcase him for a future trade. With his AHL stint ending tomorrow, Leafs fans will know one way or the other whether or not the team’s plan worked. If there’s interest out there for Soshnikov, you’d have to imagine that an interested party would pay a premium in order to skip the waiver wire queue and land the young Russian sniper.
Alternatively, the Leafs could elect to keep Soshnikov and demote one of Kasperi Kapanen or Travis Dermott. But, given how those two young players have played as of late, that would be a tough pill to swallow.
With the options for Soshnikov in Toronto limited, Lamoriello has just over 24 hours to decide - waive him, or trade him?