Ryan Rupert has been one of the Toronto Marlies’ most pleasant surprises this year, producing at a point per game clip in his rookie AHL season while displaying an excellent two way game and showing exceptional positional awareness. Whether he develops into an NHL player remains to be seen, but for the time being, he’s fairing pretty well for a sixth round draft pick.
With that said, he was missing one key thing this season; his twin brother. Today, the Marlies rectified that, signing his brother Matt to an Amateur Tryout to finish the year, and a 1-year contract beginning in 2015/16.
Matt was born on June 2nd, 1994, in Gran Bend, Ontario. He lines up at 5’9 and weighs about 185 pounds, and is a left handed shot. These look a lot like Ryan’s stats, and that’s because the two are actually twins.
But despite being so alike, they have their differences. For one, Matt has fewer teeth, thanks to two on-ice incidents as a teenager. He also plays left wing full time, while Ryan typically sticks to centre. Playing the more valuable position and out-producing Matt lead to his eventual drafting by the Leafs in 2012, while Matt was passed on.
While the Leafs invited him to training camp a few times, they never ended up offering him an NHL contract. As such, when this year rolled along, Ryan made the jump to the pros, while Matt stuck with the London Knights to play an over-age year. In that year, he picked up 30 goals and 45 assists in 61 games, putting him fourth in team scoring, behind Mitch Marner, Christian Dvorak, and Max Domi.
Until the signing, it looked like the two would be separated for a full season for the first time since they were little kids. Be it AAA, Junior B, or the Ontario Hockey League, the two always played on the same teams, if not on the same line. Interestingly, Matt had a better points-per-game pace than Ryan last year, picking up 68 in 53 games well above his brother’s 73 in 68 spread.
Reuniting the twins aside, this seems to play into what Kyle Dubas has referred to as the “baseball strategy” by the Leafs. Toronto has all of the money on the planet, but only so many NHL contracts that they could sign. With this considered, they can probably offer a lot of unsigned prospects significantly better guaranteed money, with the understanding that strong performances can lead to NHL deals. This means stocked cupboards at the AHL and ECHL levels, and is something we’ve already seen with the likes of Byron Froese, Erik Bradford, Brady Vail, Brett Findlay and Jack Rodewald.
Rupert will make his debut with the Marlies tonight, playing on a line with his brother Ryan and Connor Brown.