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Rumour: Young Leafs’ absence sparks wild trade speculation

We know that Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello has been working the trade phones… does he have another move up his sleeve?

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According to a report from FaceoffCircle.ca’s Jeff Veillette, Toronto Marlies forward Andreas Johnsson is not in the lineup for his team’s matinee game today against the Binghamton Devils.

Johnsson is the Marlies’ leading scorer and is not listed as having any sort of injury, so his absence from the lineup has ignited a firestorm of trade rumours online.

Here’s the Marlies’ full lineup for today’s game:

Hmmmmm… very odd. Very odd, indeed. This could signal a trade, or it could signal absolutely nothing at all. As Veillette points out, Johnsson has been rotated out of the team’s lineup before, but this would mark the first time he’s been scratched since December. It also happens to come at a time when the young Swede is being mentioned in trade rumours… coincidence?

In his latest Quick Shifts column for Sportsnet, NHL analyst Luke Fox caught up with Leafs rookie Travis Demott to get his opinion on Johnsson, as the two played together with the Marlies earlier this season. Johnson, an AHL sophomore has been on absolute fire lately, rattling off 22 goals and 42 points in 44 games. He’s the Marlies’ leading scoring and is taking a healthy run at the league scoring title, as well.

“That’s a guy who could easily transfer into the NHL. He’s got the elite speed, elite hands, elite mind for the game. If he got thrown into a couple NHL games,” Dermott said, “he’d excel if not do just fine.”

Make no mistake, the 23-year-old Johnsson is not your average prospect. The former 7th round pick has been playing pro hockey in Sweden and the AHL for five seasons now. He’s not just some fresh faced kid off the street. He has experience and he’s proven that he can play a reliable, two-way game.

“He’s a guy you can rely on every time,” says Dermott. “If you’re breaking the puck out, you’re thinking, ‘If I can just get it to this guy, it’s going to get out.’ Or if you’re on a long shift and you really need to get it out of the zone, he’s the guy you look to.”

Sounds like a Mike Babcock type player if there ever was one. But, will he be in Toronto long enough to get his shot?