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A Win-Win Move For Leafs

by Mike Ulmer / Toronto Maple Leafs

Matt Frattin, welcome to the American Hockey League.

For the next two weeks, you will be on the bus.

You will play, Dallas Eakins willing, seven games in 15 days. You will see San Antonio, Houston, Austin  and Oklahoma City. There will be infinitely less glamorous, Adirondack, New York,  and Rochester.

Frattin was sent down Tuesday by the Leafs who swapped him even up for Joey Crabb. The 28-year-old Crabb more than earned his ticket to the big team with seven goals and eight assists, good for third in AHL scoring. Crabb provided the experience used by Joe Colborne to springboard to the top of the AHL scoring race and regain his status as one of the organization’s brightest prospects.

The move gives Eakins the choice of putting the team’s three most arresting future Leafs on one line with Colborne in the middle and Nazem Kadri and Frattin on either side.

Frattin has seen his ice time eroded from 16:17 on opening night to 9:52 against Ottawa.  Other than not scoring, his game has been commendable.  At 23 after nearly four full seasons playing Division I hockey at the University of North Dakota, Frattin brings a solid game based on strong skating, a solid stance with the puck, a hard shot and an excellent sense for the game. Frattin will score: he led NCAA Division I players in goals last year. He figures to be a Leaf for years to come.

It’s just that he hasn’t been able to score in 11 games and rather than make his season about not scoring, the Leafs have given him the chance to break his slide out of the spotlight.

But there is another reason why the move bears watching.

Sending Frattin down seals his place on the bus for the Marlies’ most grueling road trip.  Every season, the Marlies are evicted from Ricoh Coliseum in favour of the Royal Winter Fair. Frattin will learn the rudiments of the minors – and quickly. Desire has never been an issue with Frattin but for a player whose only pro experience is the NHL, two weeks on the road trip to end all road trips will serve as ample motivation to make it back to Toronto.

Meanwhile, Crabb is justly rewarded for his superior play. Crabb, who scored three goals and added 12 assists in 48 games last season, should bring some offence to the third line. At this juncture, at least, it looks like win-win.

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