Leafs make room for youth to shine

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs have sent a clear signal over the past 24 hours with the trade of Matthew Lombardi and the decision to put Tim Connolly on waivers.

It’s time for the young guys -- like Nazem Kadri -- to get more of a shot on the big club.

On Wednesday evening, the Leafs dealt 30-year-old Lombardi to Phoenix and, on Thursday, placed 31-year-old Connolly on waivers.

Connolly, once an exciting player in Buffalo, just hasn’t had the impact the Leafs hoped for when they signed him in the summer of 2011.

It was a tough decision to waive him, but it was done to give coach Randy Carlyle the best possible tools at this disposal to start the season.

"First of all, Tim has done nothing wrong," new Leafs GM Dave Nonis told ESPN.com Thursday. "He came in, in good shape. There hasn’t been a fit in terms of top-six forward positions. That may change, he’s still part of our organization if he clears [waivers], he could be a viable asset. But there has to be some transparency and accountability for players who come here and try to earn positions. Even though it’s a short camp, there’s certainly players that fit better at this point in Randy’s system. We had to make a decision about which group would begin the season and give us the best chance of winning and which players have shown that they fit better in certain positions. We don’t have the luxury of doing it any different."