TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs have placed defenceman John-Michael Liles on waivers as their opening-night roster begins to come into focus.
Liles looked like the odd man out on the blue-line during the pre-season, something that became even more clear after Cody Franson signed. If he's not claimed by another NHL team, Liles could be assigned to the AHL's Toronto Marlies.
The 32-year-old has a US$3.875-million salary-cap hit. If he's sent to the minors, $925,000 of that would come off the Leafs' cap under the new collective bargaining agreement.
Liles said after the Leafs' pre-season finale Saturday night that he would just "hang out" while waiting for an update on his status.
"It's management, it's not something that you control as a player, whether it's me, whether it's one of the young guys," he. "It's the nature of the game we're in and the business that we're in."
Liles acknowledged the spotlight was brighter in Toronto than in other places he has played. Still, he has tried not to let speculation bother him.
"You're still a professional and you're still doing a job and that's ultimately why we're here," Liles said. "The business side is the business side, and my job is to take care of playing."
Liles scored a goal and added a primary assist against the Detroit Red Wings in the Leafs' final exhibition game.
In addition to Liles, the Leafs put forwards Trevor Smith and Troy Bodie, defenceman T.J. Brennan and Korbinian Holzer and goaltender Drew MacIntyre on waivers with the intention of sending them to the AHL. They sent Jamie Devane, Jerry D'Amigo, Andrew MacWilliam, Josh Leivo, Spencer Abbott, David Broll, Stuart Percy and Greg McKegg to the Marlies, leaving 22 players on the roster.
One of those players is 19-year-old prospect Morgan Rielly, who could be one of seven defencemen on the opening-night roster. Rielly could play up to nine games in the NHL before Toronto burns a year of his entry-level contract.
Coach Randy Carlyle was noncommittal when asked Saturday night about Rielly being ready to play at this level.
"I think Morgan Rielly's very close," Carlyle said. "To say that, unequivocally, he's ready to play in the NHL is a tough question to ask and a tougher question to answer at this point. We know he's played very well for our hockey club, he's a talented young man and he's only going to get better. Those are the tough decisions that you're faced with."
Right-winger David Clarkson's 10-game suspension, and enforcer Frazer McLaren's broken finger make things tougher. The Leafs must be under the $64.3-million salary cap by the roster deadline of 5 p.m. Monday, and Clarkson's $5.25-million hit will continue to count.
If the Leafs stick with the 22 players currently on the roster, counting McLaren and Clarkson, right-winger Carter Ashton could be the final forward. Assuming Rielly sticks around, Toronto would open the season Tuesday in Montreal with 11 forwards and seven defencemen in the lineup.
Rielly said Saturday night he "won't have any complaints" if sent back to junior, but he feels like he's ready to play in the NHL.
"I feel like I am there, but that's up to the coaches if they want me to play this year or not," he said. "They have a goal to reach, which is to play in the playoffs again. That's what they ultimately want."
With teams needing to get their training camp rosters down to a maximum of 23 players by Monday afternoon, a number of NHL players found themselves placed on waivers Sunday.
The players must now wait 24 hours to find out whether they have been claimed by another club or will be re-assigned Monday afternoon. NHL rosters must be set by 5 pm et Monday with all teams needing to get their payrolls under the $64.3-million salary cap.
Other notable players on waivers from Canadian teams include Winnipeg's Patrice Cormier and Edmonton's Philip Larsen.
The 23-year-old Cormier is on a one-year, $575,000 deal with the Jets. He has scored just one goal in 40 career NHL games with the Jets and Thrashers despite once being a highly-touted prospect and a key piece in the trade that sent Ilya Kovalchuk to the New Jersey Devils.
Larsen, also 23, was acquired by the Oilers in the trade that sent captain Shawn Horcoff to the Dallas Stars. He scored two goals and three assists in 32 games with the Stars last season and has five goals and 19 assists in 95 career games, all with Dallas. He is currently in the second year of a two-year deal he signed with the Stars worth an average annual value of $1.025 million.
Sunday's waiver list is as follows:
Calgary: Blair Jones, Derek Smith, Ben Street.
Edmonton: Philip Larsen, Ryan Hamilton.
Toronto: Korbinian Holzer, T.J. Brennan John-Michael Liles, Trevor Smith, Troy Bodie, Drew McIntyre.
Winnipeg: Patrice Cormier, Adam Pardy.
The Oilers also claimed Luke Gadzic from the Dallas Stars.
Other waiver placements on Sunday include:
Anaheim: Nolan Yonkman, Boston: Nick Johnson, Buffalo: Alexander Sulzer, Carolina: Chris Terry, Chicago: Ryan Stanton, Colorado: Guillaume Desbiens, Detroit: Cory Emmerton, Florida: Joey Crabb, Colby Robak, Los Angeles: Jeff Schultz, New Jersey: Cam Janssen, NY Islanders: Joe Finley, NY Rangers: Stu Bickel, Brandon Mashinter, Darroll Powe, Pittsburgh: Andrew Ebbett, Chris Conner, San Jose: Bracken Kearns, John McCarthy, Matt Pelech, Tampa Bay: Dana Tyrell, Mike Angelidis, Matt Taormina, Washington: Joel Rechlicz
Additionally, first round picks Jonathan Drouin and Bo Horvat were returned to their junior teams by the Tampa Bay Lightning and Vancouver Canucks, respectively, while the Los Angeles Kings released goaltender Mathieu Garon from his professional tryout.
All other players placed on waivers Saturday cleared on Sunday.
- with Files from TSN.ca Staff