Photo Credit: Christian Bonin

The Monday Marlie: Grundstrom En Route To Becoming Dominant AHL Player

Despite being third amongst all Toronto Marlies in scoring–with 11 points in 10 games (8 of which being primary points)–it appears the best is yet to come for Maple Leafs prospect Carl Grundstrom.

“He wants to be a dominant player, at this level,” Marlies head coach Sheldon Keefe said on Wednesday. “He believes that he can be. He’s working his way toward that.”

During the Marlies 8-2 thumping of the Belleville Senators on Saturday–in which Grundstrom potted two goals and was inches away from recording a third—we saw the Leafs 2016 second round pick’s game hit another gear as he skated alongside Pierre Engvall and Sam Gagner on the second line.

“He’s one of the real finishers that we have,” said Keefe. “When he gets the puck in the right areas, he’s going to score.”

Not only was Grundstrom producing offence, but the Umea Sweden native was a nuisance around the net, in the corners and between whistles.

Grundstrom’s outing on Saturday was exactly the type of game that the Leafs hope to see him deliver at the NHL level, some day. But, taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture of things–you can’t expect Grundstrom, 20, to deliver like that, game-in and game-out;

Not yet, at least.

People can oftentimes forget that despite the fact he’s had two previous pit stops with the Marlies, Grundstrom is still a rookie by AHL standards.

It takes time to become a game-changing player at the AHL level.

For reference, look no further than the case of Andreas Johnsson.

Johnsson, the 2018 Calder Cup Final MVP, didn’t evolve into a dominant player until January of last year. Through his first 29 games last year, Johnsson put up a respectable 21 points (0.72 p/pg). Then, when the new year hit, he hit an extra gear–scoring 33 points in 25 regular season games (1.32 p/pg), topping his season off with a spectacular playoff, with 24 points in 16 games (1.50. p/pg).

To put things into perspective, Johnsson put up that miraculous AHL campaign as a 23-year-old AHL sophomore. Grundstrom is three years younger and is in the midst of his first full AHL season.

The thing that makes Grundstrom so intriguing, though, is that he produced quite well at the AHL level in his 18 and 19-year-old seasons.

2016-2017 Playoffs (AHL) 4 PTS in 6 GP
2017-2018 Regular Season (AHL) 3 PTS in 2 GP
2017-2018 Playoffs (AHL) 14 PTS in 20 GP

While his start to the season has been impressive, it should be noted that Grundstrom is still going through somewhat of an adjustment period this season.

He’s not playing with Miro Aaltonen and Andreas Johnsson, his regular line mates from last years playoffs, anymore and Keefe has shuffled his lines around quite a bit this year, as he tries to find a combination that works for Grundstrom. His performance with Gagner and Engvall this past weekend was promising, and it’ll be interesting to see if that trio sticks together.

Once he starts to build some chemistry with linemate(s) (for the record, I think it’s going to be Gagner), the AHL should be on notice, as Grundstrom could really take off.

“Any time you have a player like Carl—with his skillset and the physicality and competitiveness—you have a lot of confidence it’s going to come,” said Keefe.

And Leafs fans should be excited at the possibility of someone like Grundstrom joining the bottom-six in a year or two. He’s got the grit component to his game that could make him a favourite of Mike Babcock’s, along with a rifle of a shot and offensive toolbox that could help make him an effective middle-six winger.

Marlies Offence Shines Against Belleville

Over the weekend–when the Marlies split their weekend series against Belleville–The Toronto Marlies tallied 14 goals.

Through 12 games this season, the Marlies have scored 55 goals (4.56 GF/PG), tying them for second amongst the entire AHL. Alike their NHL affiliate, the Marlies have three lines that are legitimate scoring threats, along with a fourth line built to give other teams headaches in their D-zone.

Leafs prospect Mason Marchment, currently playing on the Marlies third line, recorded three goals and one assist this past weekend. Colin Greening and Josh Jooris, two veterans helping form a strong fourth line for the Marlies, chipped in offensively this weekend, too. Greening recorded a pair of assists and Jooris scored a goal on Saturday.

Plus, the Marlies have been getting some big-time offensive contributions from their blue-line, just like the Leafs have gotten from defenceman Morgan Rielly, their leading scorer.

Calle Rosen recorded 4 assists this past weekend, vaulting his point total to 12.

Rosen’s 11 assists pegs him third amongst all AHL defenceman.

Timothy Liljegren put up a goal and an assist this weekend, bringing his point total to 7 points. Albeit a small sample size, his 0.58 p/pg is a promising sign. For reference, the sophomore defenceman recorded 0.38 p/pg last season in 44 games.

Frank Corrado debut

For his first time since tearing his ACL nine months ago, Frank Corrado played in an AHL game.

It was one to remember.

Corrado–who was paired with Andreas Borgman and appeared to have very little rust in his game–scored a goal and an assist in Friday’s 7-6 loss to Belleville.

Corrado didn’t play in the back-to-back and that’s to be expected as the Marlies aim to accustom their former prodigy back to the AHL grind.

Adam Brooks Back on Injured List

After missing the first nine games with an undisclosed injury, Adam Brooks returned to game-action on November 2nd. Brooks had a fantastic season debut, recording a goal and an assist while providing the last puzzle piece to the teams deadly trio of Marchment-Brooks-Moore.

“It was hard not to keep putting him over the boards because he looked very comfortable and was playing very well,” Keefe said ahead of last weekend. “He gives a lot of speed to the middle of the ice and a guy that plays in all situations.”

For Brooks, one step forward–returning to the ice– has been quickly countered with two steps backwards.

After Saturdays game, Keefe told Marlies TV that Brooks was having issues with his heart and heart rate, the day prior.

“He’s going to be evaluated back in Toronto and [sort out] exactly what is happening there,” said Keefe. “He’s going to be out for a little bit until we get that sorted.”

News and notes

  • The Marlies are currently 5-5-0-2, sitting 6th in the North Division.
  • Toronto was 30% on the power play this weekend, they’re season average is 21.8% (10th)
  • The penalty kill struggled a bit over the weekend, going 62.5% (5/8). The Marlies penalty kill is currently operating at a 76.1% efficiency rate (T-25th)

Next Up

The Marlies will close out their lengthy road trip this week as they travel to Laval on Tuesday and Belleville on Friday. Then, the Marlies return to the Coca-Cola Coliseum to host Binghamton on Saturday and Sunday


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