Canucks claim Travis Boyd off waivers from Maple Leafs

Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe talks about losing Travis Boyd on waivers to the Canucks, says he'd rather have kept him on the team, but there's tons of good depth on the Marlies and taxi squad to fill his void.

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs' forward depth took another hit Monday when they lost Travis Boyd on waivers to the Vancouver Canucks.

Boyd is the second player inside the last week that the Leafs were unable to slide through the waiver wire, following Jimmy Vesey’s claim by Vancouver on March 17.

Toronto would have preferred to hang on to both Boyd and Vesey, but it is seeking more roster flexibility ahead of the April 12 trade deadline. Had either player cleared waivers, he could have been assigned to the taxi squad on any day where he wasn’t playing a game — allowing the Leafs to maximize their available cap space leading up to the deadline.

That was deemed more valuable than the risk of exposing two off-season free-agent signings to the waiver wire, especially with Alex Galchenyuk’s emergence and waiver-exempt players like Nick Robertson and Alexander Barabanov already waiting in the wings.

Plus general manager Kyle Dubas is in the trade market for a middle-of-the-lineup forward, saying last week: “In the summer we had to move out some forwards that were good forwards for us in order to add on the back end and thus we feel like that’s an area where we may want to look at a little bit more.”

Boyd was signed to a league-minimum $700,000 contract on Oct. 10 — the second day of free agency — after spending his first five pro seasons with the Washington Capitals organization.

He’s been an in-betweener through much of his career, but has managed to produce offence at a decent rate in limited NHL opportunities. That continued with the Leafs, as Boyd had three goals and eights points in 20 games while averaging just 9:40 per night.

“For me I’ve thought that I should have been or could be an everyday NHL player for a few years now and that opportunity just kind of didn’t pan out in Washington,” Boyd said in February. “Coming here my mindset was to come in and earn that spot, but know that I’ve had experience at this level. Obviously I’ve played a decent amount of NHL games.

“Just to kind of believe in myself a little bit more and go out there and know that I can be an everyday player.”

The 27-year-old should find more of an opportunity with the Canucks.

Meanwhile, in Toronto, it’s simply next man up while Dubas continues to work the phones with an extra $125,000 in available cap room now at his disposal.

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