Michalek was placed on waivers by Toronto on Monday, Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reports. The 31-year-old was placed on waivers to make room for Ben Smith, who was claimed off waivers himself. If Michalek clears waivers, he'll report to AHL Toronto.
Michalek will skate on the Leafs' top line beside Nazem Kadri to start the season. There was thought he might provide a veteran presence to Auston Matthews' line, but he gets the top gig with Nazzy instead. Michalek still has some gas in the tank and is eager to prove his injury-riddled 2015-16 isn't an omen for a decline in his career. Michalek may provide sneaky fantasy value in deep leagues, as he'll also get some power-play time.
Michalek potted a pair of goals in Thursday's 4-3 win over Team USA. The veteran also received the second most ice time (21:26) among Czech forwards in this one, trailing only Martin Hanzal of the Coyotes (22:54). Michalek's three points in three games at the World Cup is a nice omen for those considering utilizing his fantasy services in what will be his first full season with the Maple Leafs. He's expected to fill a top-six role -- potentially beside stud rookie Auston Matthews -- so the 31-year-old (and former 35-goal scorer) appears to have an outside shot at cracking the 20-goal plateau for the sixth time in his career.
Michalek (knee) is healthy and ready to play with the Czech team in the World Cup of Hockey this fall, Sportsnet reports. Michalek is the elder statesman on a team littered with skaters vying for consistent NHL roles. Included in the Dion Phaneuf trade with Ottawa last February, the winger will look to get off to a strong start to the 2016-17 campaign after he was limited to 45 games last season; since he's on track to participate in the World Cup, it appears that fantasy owners will have a chance to evaluate his performance before deciding whether to draft him. Even though Michalek is past his prime, he's adept on the power play and projected for second-line duty with James van Riemsdyk and Nazem Kadri, a pair of heavy point producers. Consider buying low on Michalek.
Michalek will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. Michalek sustained the injury in Thursday's game against Buffalo, but he still managed to log 17:15 of ice time in the loss. The savvy veteran has had trouble with injuries, as he was traded to the Leafs in early February with the club knowing he was dealing with a fractured finger. With the Leafs having been eliminated from playoff contention for some time, he has plenty of time to get over this latest ailment for 2016-17. Replacing Michalek on the roster is Frederik Gauthier, who reportedly was called up from the minors Saturday.
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