In order to clear roster space for Colby Armstrong and John-Michael Liles, both of whom are returning from injury, the Toronto Maple Leafs have assigned Nazem Kadri and Keith Aulie to the Toronto Marlies of the AHL.

Kadri and Aulie are both waiver-exempt, and each will benefit far more from increased ice time at the AHL level than playing minimal minutes or being a healthy scratch in the NHL. While the decision to send Aulie to the AHL does not come as a particular surprise, some may question why another player wasn’t sent down instead of the ever-improving Kadri. The fact of the matter is, the only realistic options to be sent down would be the Leafs‘ 4th line role players (Brown, Boyce, Crabb, Rosehill), a role for which Kadri is not at all suited.

Considering the depth of the roster, and the limited waiver eligibility of its members, the choice of players to be sent down to create the necessary roster space for Armstrong and Liles was logical.  It would be a mistake to view this move as an indictment of the play of either Kadri or Aulie; rather, they are victims of the numbers game, nothing more and nothing less. With the return of Armstrong and Liles there is, at the present moment, simply no room at the inn.