Anton Stralman's work day started a little later than expected yesterday, but it wasn't the lazy Sunday the defenceman would have preferred.
The second-year Maple Leaf was excused from the team's practice at Lakeshore Lions Arena as he instead had to report to Ricoh Coliseum to join the team's AHL affilliate, the Toronto Marlies, for a game against Hamilton.
"He needs to get some minutes in, get some confidence and work on some of the things we've been talking to him about," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said yesterday.
"Sitting down and watching games and not getting a lot of minutes isn't the way to develop players. So we'll put him down to the Marlies and his recall will be entirely up to him."
Stralman has played in 21 of the Leafs' 29 games, scoring once and adding six assists while averaging 15:51 of ice time. The 22-year-old Swede was a healthy scratch for Friday's game against Buffalo and saw just 14 minutes and 18 seconds a week ago against the New York Islanders.
Wilson said he believes Stralman has a future with the team but the recent lack of ice time was hurting him.
With fellow Swede Jonas Frogren likely to return by the end of the week and another injured blueliner, Luke Schenn, also getting healthier, opportunities weren't about to increase.
It also was a convenient move for president Brian Burke to make, considering that Stralman didn't have to clear waivers before being sent down.
As well, the team has been impressed with Jaime Sifers play in his first two NHL games.
"We have a lot of confidence in (Stralman) being a big part of the future," Wilson said. "Some guys we can send down, some guys you can't. In his case, he doesn't have to clear waivers so it makes sense for him to (go down) and play in all situations.
"(Sifers) can't allow himself to get comfortable in the sense of 'I've made it,' " Wilson said. "We're getting numbers (of defenceman) back again."
Stralman was part of a Marlies defence that allowed just 16 shots on net yesterday. But goaltender Justin Pogge let two of those get by in a 2-1 loss to the Bulldogs.