Jeff Finger will not have to take a hard right turn to the Marlie dressing room Friday morning when Maple Leafs’ training camp opens.
Though a summer of speculation has the veteran defenceman and his $3.5-million US contract getting demoted for cap relief, Leafs senior vice-president of hockey operations Dave Nonis said nothing has been decided.
“That would be unfair to players who have spent the summer working hard (to make the main roster),” Nonis said Thursday.
Finger is a good reserve defenceman, but has had a target on him since then-GM Cliff Fletcher overpaid $14 million for four years back in 2008. The Leafs enter camp about $200,000 over the NHL cap of $59.4 million.
“We’ll have to do something, make a roster move or put someone on waivers, but there is not a great deal of issues at this point,” Nonis said.
Most teams do like to have a couple of million dollars in cap ceiling in case they have to add someone in a pinch.
No camp contact
Three players will be held out of contact drills for a few days, forwards Fredrik Sjostrom and Robert Slaney as well as defenceman Keith Aulie, all coming off shoulder surgery.
They all should play some of the nine exhibition games that begin Tuesday with five in five nights. NHL rules frown on playing anyone more than three games on consecutive nights, but that would give the Leafs a chance to give fringe players more starts early on. They include goalies Jussi Rynnas and Ben Scrivens, save the final four contests for projected starters Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Jonas Gustavsson.
“Nothing is written in stone,” Nonis said.
“Ron Wilson and Francis Allaire will talk to the goalies when they get in and they have a ball park number of starts they’ll want to discuss.”
Versteeg at centre?
Though acquired as a left winger from Chicago, Kris Versteeg can play right wing and centre, the latter a position up for grabs on the first and second lines.
“That’s the great thing about Kris, he’s versatile,” Nonis said. “Using him at centre is an option for Ron, but we don’t really see him there now.”