The Toronto Maple Leafs have had a busy Saturday morning.
On Saturday the Leafs announced that they would be sending three of their players down to the American Hockey League, those players being forwards Adam Brooks and Nick Robertson as well as defenseman Rasmus Sandin. The American Hockey League season kicked off just a few days ago and it seems likely that this move means that the Leafs are still hoping to see these players get more ice time, and more development time, at the AHL level.
Although the Leafs have been making a number of moves throughout the course of this season in order to remain cap compliant, this does not appear to be the case here given that the option of sending these players to the taxi squad would have effectively produced the same result. Speaking of the taxi squad, the Leafs also assigned two players to that squad on Saturday with those being defenseman Matt Marincin and recently signed forward Scott Sabourin.
Initially I suspected that the moves may have been related to the Leafs getting some players back from injury, notably the aforementioned Robertson and veteran forward Joe Thornton, but that won't be the case today. Although Robertson has been cleared he will be heading down to the AHL as I just mentioned, and Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe confirmed just earlier today that Thornton has still not been officially cleared to play.
It does sound like Thornton is getting close to making his return however, with Keefe indicating today that the 41 year old is trending in the right direction. The Leafs practice again on Sunday before facing off against the Senators on Monday, and although this is purely speculation that could be where we see Thornton return.
On a final note, no doubt the news that Robertson is once again being sent down will come as a disappointment to his many fans. If you do find yourself in that camp I've got some good news however, as per Maple Leafs beat reporter Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun, it sounds like you may not have to wait for long to see him in a Leafs uniform once again. Koshan reports that Sheldon Keefe expects that it won't be very long before Robertson get another shot with the Maple Leafs.