With only a couple weeks left in the OHL season, Mitch Marner and his London Knights are putting it all together at the right time. Riding a seven-game winning streak they have caught Erie in the Western Conference standings and are looking like the juggernaut everyone expected them to be at the beginning of the season. With Marner, Dermott, Korostelev, Desrocher and Bracco, the Maple Leafs now have prospects on 5 of the top-6 teams in the OHL It will definitely make for a very entertaining OHL playoffs fo Leafs fans as they all play key roles on their team and it’s looking like an almost certainty that we will have at least one Leaf prospect to watch at the Memorial Cup in May.
Today’s CHL Games
- The lone OHL game on the schedule today that features a Leafs prospect is Kitchener visiting the Soo Greyhounds. After a bit of a slump, Jeremy Bracco broke out last night with a 4-point game in Kitchener’s win over Flint.
- For our Leafs Nation friends out West, Andrew Nielsen and the Lethbridge Hurricanes will host the Edmonton Oil Kings at 4pm MST.
- In the QMJHL, we get to see two Leaf prospect faceoff against each other as Dmytro Timashov and his Shawinigan Cataracts visit Martins Dzierkals and the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies.
Getting Back On Track
Speaking of Nikita Korostelev, it has proven to be a tough season for the forward that many were calling a steal when the Maple Leafs got him in the 7th round last June. A slow start coupled with a nagging injury that forced him out of the lineup has led to many wondering if he’s a legitimate prospect or not. Since returning to the lineup in mid-February Korostelev has looked a lot better and with the Sarnia Sting looking great recently, Korostelelv has looked like the player we were hoping to see. With six points in his last five games, he’s helped balance the scoring on a team that could all too easily rely on their superstars. After a few big trades near the deadline, Korostelev has some more talent around him than at the start of the season and that could be contributing to his improved production but beyond the points, he looks a lot more engaged than earlier in the season. Those who follow me on twitter know I think Sarnia is poised for a very deep run in the playoffs and Korostelev will have to be a big part of that.
— Pavel Barber (@HeyBarber) March 9, 2016
It’s been well reported that Auston Matthews had his season end this week when his Zurich Lions team was swept out of the playoffs in the first round. Along with Matthews, this means that his linemate and Maple Leafs prospect Fabrice Herzog is also finished for the season. Herzog continued to grow this season, and while he didn’t light the league on fire, he improved in his second season playing pro hockey. At 21-years old, Herzog is a long shot to ever play with the Leafs and is likely destined for a long pro career in Europe but the controls his rights for another season. Management doesn’t have to make a decision on him so it’s likely he will stay in Zurich in hopes to drastically improve next year and work his way into a pro contract. We might see Herzog get the call for the Swiss team in the upcoming IIHF World Championship if anyone wants to watch him play.
Over in Sweden, 2014 seventh round pick Pierre Engvall had his season end when his team was eliminated from the playoffs. Playing in the second-tier pro league in Sweden, Engvall had a decent year but nothing that stood out. Like Herzog, the team retains his rights and we’re likely not to hear much about him this summer beyond a couple mentions at rookie camp and the news that he’s been sent back to Sweden for the 2016-17 season. He’s another guy that is likely to just fade into the abyss as so many Burke/Nonis draft picks have.
In the NCAA post-season, the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs are officially the team for Leafs Nation to cheer for. With both Tony Cameranesi and Dominic Toninato playing a big role for UMD, the Bulldogs swept the University of Miami this week in the first round of the NCHC playoffs and are going to be in tough as they draw the top-ranked University of North Dakota in the semifinals. As a senior, Cameranesi is in his final few games and if he signs an ELC when his season ends, we could see him in the Marlies lineup for the stretch run to fill the holes created by all the NHL callups.
Odds and Ends
- Dakota Joshua and the Ohio State Buckeyes start the Big Ten Tournament this week with a quarterfinal matchup against Michigan State on Thursday.
- Andreas Johnson is another guy we could see come over to help out the depleted Marlies during the stretch run depending on how his Frolunda team does in the playoffs that start next week.
- Nolan Vasey Had his season end last weekend as his Main University team was swept out of the first round of the Hockey-East tournament.