Happy May! Finally, we can get that dumb Justin Timberlake meme off of our collective social media timelines and get back to what matters: talking about an eliminated hockey team in a quiet stretch. Let’s dive into the mailbag and see what’s on everybody’s minds this week:
— Alex (@BarDownBrown16) April 30, 2017
Absolutely not, and that’s okay. I wrote about Kaskisuo’s massive run of form a few days ago; he’s currently giving the Marlies 0.940-950ish goaltending after being below the ECHL league average for much of the year.
Saying that this isn’t typical Kaskisuo isn’t saying that he’s bad. This was his first full pro season, and he has a little bit more time to adjust. But what the Marlies are getting right now are results that would lead you to believe that he could be a Top-10 starter in the NHL today. That’s probably not the case.
Should you enjoy the run while it lasts and hope that he evolves into a 0.915-0.925 AHL goaltender, and possibly even an NHLer down the line? Absolutely.
— bradley sharp (@sharp_bradley) April 30, 2017
I can’t imagine that we’re going to see much more a growth spurt from the youngster. NHL-level conditioning will probably make him a bit stronger (William Nylander’s sudden jacked-ness every summer is a great example of that), but even his “huge” jump in size brought him up 18 pounds in 2 years. There isn’t a need for these guys to become the “heavys” from the NES Ice Hockey games; having core strength and leg strength is huge, but so is maintaining mobility. Too big and you become slow, and this team plays its best when its fast.
At 6’3, 216, I wouldn’t expect too much more out of Auston as far as bulk goes.
— Ryan K (@rjkerr1993) April 30, 2017
It would be far too complicated to do a run-down list, especially given that there won’t be a ton of spots. Depending on what you’re looking for, though, your go-to “kids” are Kasperi Kapanen, Brendan Leipsic, and Kerby Rychel. Kapanen is your catch-all utility guy, Leipsic is your forechecking pest who can control the neutral zone like few others when he has the puck, and Rychel is all the non-intangibles of Matt Martin with better hands for a third of the price.
Seth Griffith obviously deserves a nod too, but he’s a few years older and not really considered in the conversation by many these days.
— Rambling Exposition (@RamExposition) April 30, 2017
There’s still a chance at seeing an NHL deal or two. Nikita Korostelev is the one that most are looking at right now; if the Leafs don’t sign him soon, he’ll be re-eligible for the draft. The 20-year-old has had some highlight reel moments, but the jury’s out as to whether his 75 points in 67 games is impressive enough to be worth the contract.
— Osman Amjad (@OsmanAmjad7) April 30, 2017
This is such a tough one. Sparks has routinely put up elite developmental numbers, crushing the league averages in the ECHL and AHL. Health has been a concern, though; he’s missed time due to injury three times this year, and there’s a real chance that he rushed back to play through injury with the Leafs last year in hopes of solidifying a spot (if so, it didn’t go so well).
Lower body issues have plagued Sparks since he’s come to the pro ranks. If he can shake those off, I have no doubt that he’s a legitimate NHL goaltender; an elite backup or a decent 1B, at least. But you need to be able to dress to play those games, and he hasn’t shown that as much as the team would like him to.