With the Toronto Maple Leafs seemingly finished with adding players this offseason (can anybody see them being able to afford much else after signing RFAs?) there’s been a lot of talk about what the roster will look like this year and how it stacks up to the one that was used throughout last year. After all, there have been a decent amount of changes to the team. But hold on. What’s happened to the Toronto Marlies? After all, the team draws heavily from players throughout the Leafs organization, and the development of some of these players is crucial to the future NHL success. Let’s take a look:
..since Opening Night
- Usually, and especially in cases where the parent club is the owner as well, one of the NHL assistant GM’s takes the side-role of day to day GM of their AHL affiliate. Dave Nonis had that responsibility, but as he replaced Brian Burke with the Leafs, Dave Poulin has taken his place here. Eakins
- Head Coach Dallas Eakins was due for a shot at the NHL. Many thought he could have made the leap last offseason, but did so this year, joining the Edmonton Oilers as head coach. Eakins leaves the team as its most successful coach in franchise history, tallying 153 wins, back to back over-0.600 seasons, and a 2012 appearance in the Calder Cup Finals.
- Gone with Eakins to Edmonton is team Captain Ryan Hamilton, who has set just about every offensive record in team history. Beyond having a career year (30G 18A in 56GP) under Eakins, Hamilton also played 12 regular season and playoff games with the Maple Leafs.
- Also headed to Edmonton is Will Acton. Coached by Eakins and the son of assistant coach Keith, Acton has made significant strides in his development over the past few years to become a very dependable bottom six forward. Whether it’s enough to get him into the NHL this year is up for debate, but he’ll at least see solid time in Oklahoma City
- MINOR PLUG: I’ll be going into more detail on Hamilton and Acton on OilersNation in the very near future
- Keith Aucoin, with 37 points in 34 games, earned a spot in Leafs training camp before the NHL season started, and was swiftly claimed on waivers, ending one of the more productive seasons from a Marlies forward in recent memory.
- Ben Scrivens and Matt Frattin both graduated to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and it was almost guaranteed that they would never return beyond a conditioning stint. To seal the deal, however, they’ve been traded to the Los Angeles Kings.
- Jake Gardiner will never have to be freed from anything other than the press box when Randy Carlyle inevitably goes crazy again. He’s done with the AHL.
- Also graduated to the Leafs, but currently Restricted Free Agents are Nazem Kadri and Mark Fraser. Kadri may not have a year like he did with the Leafs this time around on a regular basis, but it’s evident that he’s never playing in the AHL ever again. Fraser, on the other hand, is slightly above being a tweener and could be waived down. Whether anybody claims him depends on the contract he either signs or gets awarded via arbitration.
- Greg Scott took his late season hot streak and rode it all the way to a deal with Brynnas of the Swedish Hockey League.
- Nicolas Deschamps was traded to the Washington Capitals for Kevin Marshall.
- Mike Kostka turned out to not be as good in the NHL as his 34-in-34 AHL pace implied, and is an unrestricted free agent, joining Jussi Rynnas.
- Leo Komarov graduated to the Leafs, and swiftly won the hearts of everybody except the Leafs, who left him to sign in the KHL for a year, though wanting to return. He won’t be in the AHL again when he does.
- Mike Zigomanis has yet to sign with the team. the 31 year old veteran signed an AHL-only deal last year. Whether that was due to the Leafs being close to 50 contracts or Zigomanis wanted to ensure he was near home for personal reasons is up for debate, but what isn’t is that he hasn’t signed a new deal yet. I still think it’s rather possible that he will; but as of this second, one shouldn’t hold their breath.
- Also yet to return from an AHL only deal, with a chance of coming back, is Paul Ranger. That said, he too has been connected with Edmonton as a possible destination, though there’s a belief that he’d like to stay close to home in Whitby.
- Joe Colborne isn’t definitely a goner, but he’s shown himself to be back on the right track with his late-season AHL performance and looked good in a bottom six role with the Leafs. This one depends on whether they want him to play on the wing.
- I don’t feel that Carter Ashton or Jerry D’Amigo have shown NHL readiness just yet, but Toronto has a glaring hole on third line right wing (4th too if they decide that a lineup doesn’t need Clarkson, Orr, and McLaren in it every single night) that may need to be filled internally.
- Korbinian Holzer could either benefit from more seasoning, or sheltered NHL minutes, depending on who you ask. The end result will be figured out at training camp, but I think he’ll see at least a little bit of time with the Marlies this coming year.
- Both assistant coaches, Gord Dineen and Derek King, appear to be back for next season, unless Spott decides to change personnel.
- Jesse Blacker will no doubt see a prominant role on next season’s team, in what will likely be his last year before making the jump to the NHL.
- Greg McKegg likely sees a minute increase in what will be his second AHL season.
Regular Season Finale
- Mike Mottau, Ryann Lasch and Dylan Yeo are all UFAs.
- Morgan Rielly, who apparently was a fetus when drafted by the Leafs, is too young to play in the AHL full time, and will either join the Leafs or return to junior.
- Josh Leivo, David Broll, Tyler Biggs, and Stuart Percy could all theoretically go back to junior as overagers. That list is in descending order of likeliness. I’d say they all have a chance to stick with the team next year, though.
- Jamie Devane and Sam Carrick will probably bounce between the ECHL and AHL this year.
- Garrett Sparks has outgrown the OHL and will play in the pros this year. Whether it’s with the Marlies as a backup or in the ECHL as a starter depends on who Toronto signs next, if anybody.
- Simon Gysbers is unrestricted, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him take an AHL deal to stay with the team next year.
- After essentially saving the team from collapse at the mid-season mark, it’s no shock that Drew MacIntyre was rewarded with a new 2-way contract. He’ll almost assuredly be the Marlies’ starting goalie.
- Brad Ross will get much more than 40 games next year, barring injury, and will possibly see some top six minutes.
- Kenny Ryan will also get more opportunity to play this year, after playing 59 games under low minutes.
- Andrew MacWilliam will play his rookie year in Toronto. He could fall back to the ECHL, but he’ll at least get a chance to stay up.
Even with all of these players already involved, some players managed to play in neither the first or last game of the regular season.
- Mike Komisarek has found a home in Carolina, signing a $700,000, 1-year deal.
- Tim Connolly is a UFA, and Leafs nation is trying to forget his appearance ever happened. I can’t see him getting a role in North America.
- Corey Syvret was let go from his pro-tryout midway through the year, as was Ryan Grimshaw.
- Andrew Crescenzi will bounce between the ECHL and AHL again.
- Kevin Marshall signed an extension with the Leafs on Friday afternoon, and will no doubt be on the Marlies for the bulk of the year.
- Spencer Abbott is an RFA, but he’s a slam dunk to be one of Toronto’s most productive wingers, if not the most productive.
A lot of players played for the Toronto Marlies last year. A little under 50, to be exact. But with big rosters comes big turnover, and a lot of the team is still up in the air, with few guarantees to stick around. No major immediate talent sticks out in the group that will stay; but it looks to be a very young group. It’ll be interesting to see how the roster begins to shape up as we get closer to Leafs training camp.
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