If there was any doubt that Trevor Moore is on the cusp of being a Toronto Maple Leaf in the near future, look no further than his performance on Sunday in the teams 3-2 win against Utica.
Moore recorded two goals (both of which were in the first period) and accumulated seven shots in the game. He was hard on the forecheck, he made clean zone entries, he cradled the puck as smoothly as he usually does–and he generating plenty of scoring chances.
Moore’s performance last game was a testament to just how close Moore is to cracking the big leagues.
“He was outstanding today,” said Keefe. “Right from his first shift it was pretty clear he wanted to leave his mark on this game here today. That’s what he’s capable of doing and that’s what we’re looking forward to having more of–he is a real difference maker for us.”
Moore’s off to a strong start this season, recording eight points in his first seven games. The former University of Denver Pioneer has been on a roll dating back to last spring when the Marlies lost Andreas Johnsson and Kasperi Kapanen to the Leafs, and Keefe made a point to make Moore a bigger part of the offence.
Keefe let Moore know just how important the team thought he was, and he emphasized how the team needed him. The message was received and Moore would go on to have a massive playoff outing for the Marlies–recording 17 points in 20 games–albeit limited ice-time.
Moore gained plenty of confidence from last springs Calder Cup Championship and he’s carried over to this season.
“[Moore] is a guy that is a strong player and also has a lot of speed. As he’s become more and more confident, he’s gotten his body involved that much more in winning those types of puck battles,” said Keefe. “He’s got the speed to get there. He’s got the strength to get underneath guys. Then he’s got the confidence to get really involved.”
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Playing with confidence has been huge for Moore this season, as a lack of such has hindered his performance in the past.
“Moore has a chance to play in the NHL [but] he has a tendency to get in his own way and not have as much confidence as he should,” Leafs head coach Mike Babcock told the Toronto Sun before he placed Moore on a line alongside John Tavares and Mitch Marner for a pre-season tilt against the Canadians. “That’s what I’ve tried to talk to him about as much as possible.”
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At the AHL level, at least, it appears Moore now understands just how good he can be. And while offensive production at the AHL level is what catches eyeballs from casual prospect observers, the ability to produce offence isn’t the only pre-requisite to cracking a Leafs lineup that’s coached by Babcock.
You’ve got to know how to kill penalties.
“If you watch the Leafs, that power play’s pretty tough to get on. So, you’ve got to find a different way to kind of make yourself useful,” said Moore.
And Moore has certainly made himself useful when the Marlies are a man short, evolving into a staple on the team’s penalty kill.
“[Penalty killing is] one of those things that you need reps at. It’s nice to get those reps early here. I think I’ve gotten better at it as times gone on and [Marlies assistant coach] Rob Davison’s helped me out a lot.”
If Moore continues to produce offensively, prove to be reliable in his own zone and on the penalty kill, and the Leafs sustain an injury, Moore would likely be the first call-up for the Leafs.
Mason Marchment Returns To The Lineup
Mason Marchment’s made his season debut for the Marlies this past weekend and the 23-year-old winger made an impact right out of the gate, impressing Keefe in the process.
“He was able to step right in this weekend and play the way he played in the playoffs,” said Keefe. “He’s on the puck. He’s winning loose pucks. He’s generating lots of shots and chances.
“Lot of really good signs [this weekend], the way he just jumped right in to it this weekend was really nice to see and obviously makes a big difference to our team.”
Despite being sidelined with an upper-body injury for just over a month, there appeared to be hardly any rust in the Uxbridge Ontario natives game. After a strong showing on Friday against Rochester, Keefe promoted Marchment and reunited him with Moore, his linemate from last year.
“It was huge. [Marchment’s] a really good player. Really good shooter and he works really hard. He brings a physical edge to our line and I think you could see that on our line tonight,” said Moore.
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Marlies High-Flying Offence Continues to Keep Team Afloat
If the Marlies weren’t scoring as well as they have been, the narrative surrounding the club would be very different.
With the Leafs’ AHL affiliate scoring 29 goals through their first six contests (tied for second most in the league), it’s overshadowed the 33 goals they’ve allowed in that span, also the second most in the league.
While the saying is “defence wins championships,” the 2018-2019 Marlies play their best hockey when their offence leads the way.
“As your offence gets better it just makes you better defensively. Because all of the sudden, the other team isn’t coming at you full blast, they’re coming at you on the second half of their shift,” said Keefe. “We’ve been wanting to clean up a lot defensively for sure, but we also need to make sure we’re more efficient with the puck and we can hang on to it and spend more time putting the rest on the other team so that they’re not countering in transition with as much gas in the tank.”
The Marlies top-line–Carl Grundstrom, Chris Mueller and Sam Gagner– has been a big part of the teams surging offence, accounting for 31% of the teams goals.
Grundstrom, 20, has benefited from playing alongside two premier players in Mueller and Gagner, recording seven points through his first five contests.
“Me and [Sam Gagner] try to get him going,” said Mueller. “Once he gets going, you [see] what he did in the playoffs last year with [Andreas Johnsson].”
Marlies Add Another Defenceman
The Toronto Marlies added an 11th defenceman to their roster when they announced the signing of Frank Corrado to an AHL contract.
Corrado, 25, spent parts of two seasons with the Marlies from 2015-2017. The Leafs traded Corrado to the Pittsburgh Penguins at the 2017 deadline, and he played with their AHL affiliate, Wilkes-Barre Scranton, up until this year. Last February, Corrado sustained a knee-injury that sidelined him for the remainder of the season.
Signing Corrado is a low-risk, high-reward ploy by Marlies management.
With all the bodies the team has on the backend, there’s hardly any rush to get Corrado in the lineup. The main concern is to get him to tip-top shape as he recovers from a serious injury.
There’s also a familiarity aspect to the signing–as Keefe coached Corrado when the Toronto native was last with the club.
Here’s what the Marlies defensive depth chart looks like with Corrado in the fold.
This week, the Marlies host the Laval Rocket on Tuesday (7:00 pm ET) and Syracuse Crunch on Friday (7:00 pm ET).