Training camp starts this week. How does this all work again? It seems like it's been months since the last one, so a refresher is in order.
Who is on the Leafs roster?
Preseason is part of the offseason. And every single player signed to an NHL contract is on the NHL roster until they are loaned to somewhere else. Loan is the correct term, and some loans are obvious. Easton Cowan will go back to the Knights at some point, but may spend time in Leafs camp.
Some loans to the AHL are also obvious but at the moment, there is no AHL. You won't see official AHL rosters until the season starts. Some loans have already happened – Artur Akhtyamov is already loaned back to Ak Bars Kazan, who have already loaned him to a VHL team.
You can look at the roster on the Leafs site above, and see the full roster as it exists. Sites like CapFriendly and Elite Prospects often show you a projected in-season roster. One fun thing this year is that the NHL redesigned their websites, and decided users in Canada would want to see height and weight in metric. Try to use this as an opportunity. Now when you want to complain about a really extremely short player and compare him to a proper sized player, the difference seems much more meaningful. "He's 5 cm shorter!!" sounds like a much more reasonable outraged complaint than one about two inches.
NHL websites are dynamically updated when the NHL data changes, so as camp progresses and players are actually measured, you will see the kg values change, and you need to be ready to change your player evaluation along with them. Unfortunately kilos crawl up at a slower pace than pounds, so they seem like much less exciting changes.
At time of writing Jake Muzzin and Nick Robertson are both listed as injured. Once camp medicals happen, we should expect Robertson to be healthy. But you never know what surprises are in store if players have been hurt in offseason training.
There will be a camp roster which will be formed out of the main roster described above. It will also include players on PTOs, some of which will go to people signed to AHL contracts to play with the Marlies (AHL-contracted players must be on an NHL PTO to participate in the Maple Leafs NHL camp). Some PTO players will be like Noah Gregor, free agents with no other contract.
Eventually the Leafs camp roster will split into two and the majority of the AHL-level players will form their own camp. The players going back to junior or other leagues will depart, and the numbers will come down quickly to something large enough for split-squad rosters for preseason games, but not unwieldy.
Waiver period and Cap Compliant Rosters
Even more eventually, 12 days before the regular season begins on October 10, the waiver period opens, and players on NHL contracts who are not waiver exempt can be loaned to the AHL once they clear.
There is no need for any salary cap calculation until October 9 at 5 pm, when cap-compliant rosters of no more than 23 players are filed with the NHL.
The exhibition game schedule is on the calendar on our mainpage for you, but the important thing to remember is that the games run from September 24 to October 7. There is an entire off day between the final home-and-home games with Detroit, and the final one is in Detroit this year.
Teams cooperate with each other in preseason. If a team wants to ice their prospects and they don't want them to get stomped by a real NHL team, they'll ask the visitors to send a squad of prospects themselves.
The Leafs usually use the final game to put something very like the opening night roster on the ice. They may do that at home on October 5 this year.
All games the Leafs play are in NHL arenas, and will have NHL scorers – stats will be produced and distributed in real time – except the game on September 27 in St. Thomas.
We might see some of the younger prospects in preseason action before they are loaned to their junior teams, making this year's preseason... likely as painfully bad as most years.
The Veteran Rule
The CBA (in Article 15, paragraph 4) says teams must dress at least eight “veterans” for each preseason game. A player is considered to be a “veteran” if they meet any one of the following criteria:
- Skaters who played 30 NHL games the previous season
- Goalies who dressed in 50 NHL games, or played in 30 NHL games the previous year
- Any player who has played 100 or more NHL games
- A current year first round pick
Of note, this means Easton Cowan is a veteran and Joe Woll isn't and making it almost certain that Cowan will come to Leafs camp and play in some early games.
Preseason is the time to listen to the player interviews to get to know new people and to hear them talk about what great shape they are in. Expect to see a lot of video content produced by the Leafs and on SN and TSN.