A roundup of Thursday morning’s Toronto Maple Leafs news.

Richard Clune Signed to NHL Contract

Wherein Mike Babcock, the champion of possession who hasn’t used a fighter in eons, realizes the Leafs are a little on the soft side of the ledger…

Kidding side, the difference between Clune and the FML-ORR days is that Clune was able to go down to the Marlies and put up five points in eight games — meaning he’s somewhat of a competent hockey player. Orr, for the record, had one point in 40 games with the Marlies; McLaren, one point in 28 games.

And while his HERO chart is nothing to get to excited about, he’s been able to post third-line level possession rates during his time in the NHL. Meaning, he can probably complement a line with two more talented players than he, get in on the forecheck and whatnot, and not do too much in the way of damage.

At the moment, Clune is expected to be the extra forward for tomorrow’s game.

For those counting: After the Leafs shed all of those SPCs in the Michael Grabner deal, they’ve since used three on Andrew Campbell, Frank Corrado, and Rich Clune. That brings them to 48 of 50.

On a personal level, Clune — whose Instagram suggested he spent the entire summer training like an animal — guaranteed he’d earn an NHL contract from the Leafs back in the summer, and by the end of October he’s gone and done it. Pretty impressive individual.

He’ll get a significant raise even when he winds up back on the Marlies:

Michael Friisdahl to Replace Tim Leiweke as MLSE President in December

Friisdahl is a travel leisure executive from Air Canada with no track record in the sports world. It’s not particularly surprising though, considering the combination of bad teams and the sketchy Rogers-Bell marriage ownership situation attracted next to no decent actual “sports CEO” candidates that were willing to even interview for the job.

Larry Tanenbaum on the hire:

Given our unparalleled sports executive and team leadership, MLSE’s CEO search focused on the appointment of a seasoned Canadian business executive to lead the organization and we’ve found exactly what we were looking for in Michael,” said Mr. Tanenbaum. “As both an entrepreneur and a C-level executive in consumer-facing businesses at the Canadian and international level, Michael has shown an unwavering commitment to delivering for the customer. His focus will be on supporting our fans and our teams while maximizing the potential of MLSE’s iconic sports, entertainment and real estate assets.


Jake Gardiner, Tyler Bozak set to Return

The good news here is that Gardiner and Phaneuf looked quite effective together prior to Gardiner’s injury, and that pairing has been a long overdue for a “set it and forget it for 10 games” situation. It looks like Babcock is going to roll with it, although things can change quick with an ugly loss or two.

Hunwick and Rielly seems to round out what’s a reasonable top four with Gardiner back in the mix.

Marincin and Polak were given 100% offensive zone starts versus Montreal and finished as the worst possession players on the team that night. There is an absence of mobility on this pairing that makes it more than a little concerning. Few would disagree Scott Harrington has outplayed Marincin for the bottom-pair left side spot.

On the right side, the Leafs are in a spot here because a superior puck mover and skater in Frank Corrado seems to round out a more Babcockian top six, but Polak has been a well-liked veteran and, more importantly, they’re hoping to deal him by the deadline as he’s on an expiring contract.

Byron Froese is staying up for now, and with Clune up and Bozak returning it meant one of Mark Arcobello or Peter Holland was bound for the waiver wire. The smart move was Arcobello, simply because he’s a 27-year-old journeyman, currently pointless, and far less likely to get claimed than the 24-year-old Peter Holland, who it would be unwise to give up on fully before the end of October. Holland has a couple of points and has had more than his fair share of chances, even if he’s got to be tougher to play against as a centerman.