May 11 2014 12:02PM
It's an all-Marlies mailbag today! I guess once you say "I suck at talking about the draft" and we can't talk about coaches anymore, there isn't much else in terms of topics, is there?
I think the Marlies 1st line would make an ideal Leafs 4th line. Agree or disagree? Now fuck off, I got work to do.
I respectfully disagree with this. I think from a cap dollars point of view, you're right, but these aren't fourth line players. Carter Ashton and Peter Holland wasted away on that line in their stints this year, and Spencer Abbott has a wealth of offensive skill. Now, if you're walking away from Bolland, Raymond, and Kulemin, that's a great way to turn a $8 million third line into a $3 million line. It'd be a slight downgrade, but it would give the money to make a significant upgrade to say, the first defensive pairing.
Hi Jeff. On more than one occasion, you have written that you were not expecting the Marlies to be contenders this season. Are there any reasons for that?
It's an extremely unripe group. first and foremost. The Marlies had 14 players that were 1991s or younger play at least 20 games. Two of their three goalies started the season unable to drink in the United States, and their second defensive pairing were both rookies. I didn't expect so many rookies to pan out the way they did.
On top of this, I assumed that TJ Brennan and Jerry D'Amigo were going to spend most of the season with the Leafs. Brennan lead the Marlies in points and played in every game. D'Amigo was down there for two thirds of the year and had the highest goals/game of anybody who played more than 25 games.
I also wasn't sure if the goaltending was going to hold up. Drew MacIntyre had career numbers the season prior but fizzled in the playoffs, so I wasn't sure if regression would occur. He wasn't as lights out, but still was the backbone of the team this year. Garret Sparks and Christopher Gibson also performed above my expectations (though Sparks started the season below).
A significantly amount of good things happened to make it work. It's a bit like the Leafs of last year, in that there was great goaltending, high shooting percentages, and games where the team got outshot, but even with the "luck" factor stripped, these players are playing better than expected.
Peter Holland has put up AHL numbers over a couple years that are very similar to Nazem Kadri's numbers - almost point per game. Do you think Holland is capable of having a break out next season with the Leafs next year (assuming he plays more minutes with better linemates)?
There isn't likely to be a top six spot for him, with Bozak and either Kadri or an acquisition being assuredly ahead of him. In that respect, he won't be in the position to have a true breakout year. But can he be effective? Like I mentioned in the first question, there's definitely wiggle room. He had a stellar first half to his NHL season and, matching the stats, looks visually dominant at the AHL level.
What are your thoughts on Andrew MacWilliam? Do you see him making it to the NHL?
MacWilliam is being groomed to be what Korbinian Holzer is/was. So much so, that they've had him skating next to Holzer the entire season. He's been one of the team's best penalty killers and an immense physical presence, and at 23 years old, is playing like Holzer did in the 2011/12 run.
I think he's going to make the NHL. He's not the best of the rookie defencemen in this team, but he plays Randy Carlyle hockey, which should earn him a call up at some point next year. That's not me saying "he'll get there without deserving it", because he will, but I also believe that Stuart Percy and Petter Granberg are even better. They're also younger, so if this scenario lets them over ripen, it's good.
with Nonis talking about bringing guys up from the Marlies next season who do you think has the best shot? Outside of the obvious guys like Holland, D'amigo, Ashton who've already been called up.
I just mentioned the three rookie defencemen in the question above, but beyond them, I think that we'll see one vet, one tweener, and one kid get significant time next year.
The vet will be Drew MacIntyre. I don't see James Reimer staying, whether he deserves to or not, and MacIntyre has paid his dues with this organization. With Sparks and Gibson looking like they can play significant games, I wouldn't be shocked if the Leafs bump MacIntyre up and let the kids split the load next year.
The tweener has to be Spencer Abbott. He's too gifted as a playmaker to not be at least given a shot. There's perhaps the chance of him becoming one of those "AHL Superstars", but being above a point per game at 25 years old with your only other major offensive weapon being a defenceman is impressive.
The kid will throw some people off, but I'm hoping that it's David Broll. The Leafs could use an enforcer who can actually play hockey at a solid level, and Broll is a perfect fit in that regard. Despite playing in the bottom six, he or his linemates seem to always keep the puck in the offensive zone, even if they don't end up doing much with it. I think there's potential for him to become an effective fourth line player.