With the return of John Tavares possible for tomorrow night, the Leafs have taken the necessary step of demoting one of their players.

Nic Petan has been returned to the Marlies. You might ask, why Nic Petan? Why not Spezza or Shore? Well, the answer is pretty simple in that Petan had previously taken a ride on the waiver wire, and getting sent down today meant he was returning at the last possible moment before requiring waivers again. It’s a reasonable move and since he’s primarily been a press box fixture, this is a great opportunity for him to get back in some games.

How long will he be with the Marlies?

Well, as the Leafs get healthier and they still have tough decisions to make on at least two other forwards, it’s unlikely that he will be returning to the Leafs anytime soon. That being said, if we take a look at the ultra accurate TSN Trade Bait Board, we see that Petan is listed at #7 on the list, behind the forever rumoured Chris Kreider, Travis Hamonic, and Ryan Murray, the known trade demands of Julius Honka and Jesse Puljujarvi, and fellow Leaf, Martin Marincin.

Personally I want to commit many hours to connecting the dots between Petan and Marincin’s names and other names on this list like Puljujarvi, Honka, Ho-Sang, Roslovic, and Morin, but that may be a lot of wishful thinking, even if a Petan for Honka trade would teach me how to love again.

Petan to the just the Marlies is good

As interesting as trades are, we probably shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that having a player like Nic Petan kicking around on the Marlies is pretty darn good as well. The Leafs aren’t short on depth and plug and play options that can perform at the bottom of their roster and some of these guys even might present themselves a short term fixes to the top six as well.

In fact, one of the drawbacks of Petan is that he seems like he’s a top six or bust player, and unless he finds a situation where some team is desperate enough to run with him on their second line, we’re not going to see what he can do at the NHL level. Ultimately that will probably be the same story for Jeremy Bracco.

In short, this move allowed the Leafs to retain their depth asset, and signals the return of John Tavares. Any reaction to this move beyond being pleased would be confusing.