Leafs down another winger; lose Kulemin, recall Abbott; Reimer gets the start vs. OTT

Leafs down another winger; lose Kulemin, recall Abbott; Reimer gets the start vs. OTT

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Nikolai Kulemin broke a small bone in his ankle blocking a shot in yesterday’s practice and will miss 2+ weeks of action.

With Clarkson still on the shelf for 8 more games due to suspension, the Leafs are looking paper thin at right wing all of a sudden. They’ve called up Spencer Abbott to replace Kulemin in the top 9 forwards. Jamie Devane was recalled in wake of Mark Fraser’s injury, as the Leafs have opted for 14 forwards and 6 defence for the time being. Morgan Rielly will step into Fraser’s place, and is expected to play alongside Cody Franson tonight.

Fraser was moved to the long term injured reserve yesterday, freeing up $1.275 million in cap space, which Spencer Abbott ($650,000) and Jamie Devane ($701,000) are now occupying.

An undrafted signing out of the University of Maine who tallied 13 goals and 33 points in 50 games for the Marlies last season before adding 5 points in 5 games in the playoffs, the 25-year-old Abbott didn’t look out of place in his preseason appearances. At 5’9, 170-pounds, Abbott does not bring the same physical and penalty killing elements Kulemin offers night in, night out. He’ll be missed, and the Leafs are going to have to find a way to cope without the depth of their two best two-way, grinding wingers.

The lines seem to be shaping up along these lines for tonight’s Battle of Ontario (just a guess):

JvR – Bozak – Kessel
Lupul – Kadri – Abbott
Raymond – Bolland – Bodie
Ashton – McClement – Orr

Phaneuf – Gunnarsson
Rielly – Franson
Gardiner – Ranger

Reimer
Bernier

James Reimer is expected to get the start in net against Ottawa, an opponent he holds a lifetime 8-1-1 record against.

Alec Brownscombe is the founder of MapleLeafsHotStove.com, where he has written daily about the Leafs since September of 2008. He was also the editor of the 2009-12 Maple Leafs Annuals. You can contact him at [email protected]