Milan Michalek

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Leafs waive Michalek, claim Smith from Avs

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.

Hemsky, Faksa and the Michalek brothers added to Czech Republic’s World Cup roster

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Team Czech Republic announced their full 23-man roster for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey.

Like every other team, the Czechs named 16 players to their roster back in March. Joining the likes of Jakub Voracek, Tomas Plekanec, Ondrej Palat and David Krejci are Milan Michalek (Toronto), Dmitrij Jaskin (St. Louis), Ales Hemsky (Dallas), Radek Faksa (Dallas), Jakub Nakladal (Calgary), Zbynek Michalek (Arizona) and Michal Jordan (Carolina).

Hemsky posted 13 goals and 39 points in 2015-16 and added a goal and four points during the Stars’ postseason run.

Milan Michalek has represented his country a number of times, including in the last Olympics where he had no points in five contests. The 31-year-old was traded from Ottawa to Toronto as part of the Dion Phaneuf trade, but he didn’t have a good season, as a finger injury derailed his year. He finished the season with seven goals and 16 points in 45 games.

Milan’s older brother, Zbynek, has also represented his nation a number of times at the international level. He took part in each of the last two Olympics.

Nakladal completed his first season in the NHL in 2015-16. The 28-year-old had two goals and five points in 27 contests with the Flames.

Former St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Sobotka, who was named to the team back on Mar. 2, is the only player on the roster who isn’t currently in the NHL.

Here’s the full roster:

G Petr Mrazek, Detroit Red Wings
G Michal Neuvirth, Philadelphia Flyers
G Ondrej Pavelec, Winnipeg Jets

D Radko Gudas, Philadelphia Flyers
D Michal Jordan, Carolina Hurricanes *
D Michal Kempny, Chicago Blackhawks
D Zbynek Michalek, Arizona Coyotes *
D Jakub Nakladal, Calgary Flames *
D Roman Polak, San Jose Sharks
D Andrej Sustr, Tampa Bay Lightning

F Radek Faksa, Dallas Stars *
F Michael Frolik, Calgary Flames
F Martin Hanzal, Arizona Coyotes
F Ales Hemsky, Dallas Stars *
F Tomas Hertl, San Jose Sharks
F Dmitrij Jaskin, St. Louis Blues *
F David Krejci, Boston Bruins
F Milan Michalek, Toronto Maple Leafs *
F Ondrej Palat, Tampa Bay Lightning
F David Pastrnak, Boston Bruins
F Tomas Plekanec, Montreal Canadiens
F Vladimir Sobotka, Avangard Omsk (KHL)
F Jakub Voracek, Philadelphia Flyers

Earlier this week, Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr announced that he wouldn’t be taking part in the World Cup event.

In a surprising move, Jagr’s teammate in Florida, Jiri Hudler, was left off the roster. The 32-year-old had 16 goals and 46 points in 72 games with the Flames and Panthers in 2015-16. Radim Vrbata (Canucks), Tomas Fleischmann and Andrej Nestrasil (Carolina) also didn’t make the cut.

Leafs forward Milan Michalek’s season is over

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Since being acquired from the Senators earlier this season, Milan Michalek hasn’t been able to make an impact with the Maple Leafs. The 31-year-old’s scored a goal and six points in 13 games and now, a knee injury will put an end to his 2015-16 season.

Michalek was injured in Thursday’s loss to Buffalo. He’s missed two long stretches because of a finger injury this year, but he’s also struggled with knee injuries in the past.

In a corresponding move, the Maple Leafs recalled former first rounder Frederik Gauthier on an emergency basis. Gauthier made his NHL debut back in March. He has no goals, no points and two shots on goal in his first two NHL games.

The Leafs aren’t in the playoff chase, but they do have something to play for (or not play for). Toronto still has a chance to land the best odds at the first overall pick, as they’re tied with Edmonton for the bottom spot in the standings. The Oilers have two games in hand.

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Brown to become 10th Leaf to make NHL debut this season

AP

Byron Froese, William Nylander, Brendan Leipsic, Kasperi Kapanen, Zach Hyman, Viktor Loov, Garret Sparks, Rinat Valiev, Nikita Soshnikov and now, Connor Brown — those are the 10 Toronto Maple Leafs that’ve made their NHL debuts this season.

Well, almost.

Brown, lucky No. 10, has yet to technically make his — but it will happen tonight, as the Leafs take on Florida at the ACC. The 22-year-old’s debut is well deserved, as Brown, a sixth-round pick in 2012, made the AHL All-Star Game last season (his first year of professional hockey) and came back from a broken ankle this year to rack up 24 points in 28 games for the Marlies.

“He was our best kid in training camp for sure, could’ve made our team,” Leafs head coach Mike Babcock said, per the Globe and Mail. “He’s going to be a good NHL player for a long period of time.”

Brown’s debut comes at the expense of Leo Komarov, who’s banged up and will sit tonight. Brown is expected to skate on a line with Milan Michalek and Ben Smith.

Related: Leafs recall another — this time, defenseman Valiev

Dion Phaneuf traded to Senators

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And this is why we listen when Bob McKenzie says something.

The Ottawa Senators have acquired defenseman Dion Phaneuf, forwards Matt Frattin, Casey Bailey, and Ryan Rupert and undrafted defensive prospect Cody Donaghey from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for defenseman Jared Cowen, forwards Colin Greening, Milan Michalek and Tobias Lindberg, plus Ottawa’s second-round pick in the 2017 draft.

No salary will be retained by either team.

From the Leafs’ perspective, the trade provides even more cap flexibility for their rebuild. Phaneuf is signed through 2020-21 for a cap hit of $7 million; he’s entirely on Ottawa’s books now. As for the guys coming to Toronto, Michalek, Cowen, and Greening are only under contract through next season, for a combined cap hit of around $10 million. And according to the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch, both Cowen and Greening could be bought out by the Leafs this offseason.

The Sens, meanwhile, get to add a workhorse defenseman to a blue line that already includes Erik Karlsson. Plus, they rid themselves of some onerous contracts.