Leafs waive Michalek, claim Smith from Avs

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The Maple Leafs continued their early roster tweaking on Monday, with a pair of moves — veteran winger Milan Michalek was placed on waivers, and the club claimed forward Ben Smith from Colorado.

First up, Michalek.

The 31-year-old — acquired, along with other spare parts, in the Dion Phaneuf-to-Ottawa trade — had appeared in all five games for the Leafs this season, scoring two points while averaging 14:16 TOI per night.

So needless to say, he was a fairly regular contributor.

Today’s transaction is clearly a move to give younger players a bigger opportunity on the team. Michalek was a veteran presence on a club filled with kids, but that apparently wasn’t enough to justify his roster spot any longer.

Per head coach Mike Babcock, Michalek will report to the AHL Marlies if unclaimed. He’s in the last of a three-year, $12 million deal that carries a $4M average annual cap hit.

As for Smith, he joins the Leafs after signing a one-year contract with Colorado in mid-August, then appearing in four regular season contests. He averaged just under 11 minutes per game for the Avs, without doing much of anything — no goals, no assists, one shot on goal and two attempted.

Babcock said Smith will draw into the lineup tomorrow against the Lightning, and will bolster Toronto’s penalty kill and faceoff prowess.

Another of Toronto’s early-season waiver claims, former B’s forward Seth Griffith, is still waiting to make his team debut.

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