As we take an all encompassing look at the Leafs free agent situation this summer, it’s necessary to also consider what the Leafs will do in the way of the Marlies free agents. A decision was already made around Antti Suomela, and he was brought back on an AHL deal. A decision was seemingly made on Martin Marincin, who is rumoured to be returning to Slovakia. Whether he spearheaded that decision or the Leafs, it doesn’t really matter, but he will apparently be gone from the Leafs organization next season.
That leaves a handful of others that need at the very least some brief consideration and some others that are no brainers.
We’ll start with the no brainers.
Joseph Woll is a restricted free agent without arbitration rights. In all likelihood the Leafs will make him a qualifying offer and he’ll sign it. That will be the last we speak of this for two years. And honestly, that could be where the no brainer decisions end. Every other Marlie player up for free agency either has arbitration rights or will be an unrestricted free agent. That complicates things.
Veini Vehviläinen might be the next closest thing to a slam dunk because the organization can certainly use goaltenders and needs to cross its fingers that at least one pans out in the next couple of years. Vehviläinen allows the Leafs another player who could be that guy, but with the addition of Erik Källgren, and the existence of Michael Hutchinson, and Ian Scott, the Leafs/Marlies/Growlers are seemingly all set in net and Veini might be deemed unnecessary.
Joseph Duszak might be the other strong possibility for being re-signed. He’s been making steady progress, and could be ready for at least a look at NHL spot duty in the near future. Giving up on him now that he’s getting close to the his peak probably doesn’t make a ton of season.
Moving from the no brainers into the “yeah, I could see him being back” category, the name that sticks out is probably Stefan Noesen. Having a big net presence who could be called up to the Leafs if needed or one that gets possibly developed into someone who could challenge for a regular 4th line role on the Leafs probably shows his value. It’s just a matter of if Noesen sees himself as having his best opportunity with the Leafs or elsewhere.
Kalle Kossila seems like another Marlie that Dubas might want to see more of. Injuries and international play limited the time we saw Kossila with the team, but he always seemed capable of being a callup you could tolerate in the bottom six and I’m not sure if Toronto is ready to move on. Kossila might be though.
Scott Sabourin is a facepuncher. The Leafs don’t seem to want a designated enforcer on their roster, even if they’ve opened up to the idea of adding some tougher players, but the Marlies are an entirely different beast. Keeping a facepuncher in waiting in the AHL might be a practice they want to continue.
That brings us to the players that are seemingly on their way out, and that most certainly begins with Nic Petan. There seems to be a frustration from Petan on his limited chances with the Leafs, and that even when he’s done something right he’s not given the opportunity to stick around. There have be whispers of trade requests, and it seems like Petan is either going to search for a team that will give him his NHL shot, or he’ll be heading overseas.
Speaking of heading overseas, that seems like the most likely outcome for Calle Rosen. Rosen would be nice continued depth on the Marlies, but with the young defensemen now being worthy of a look, the writing is on the wall for guys like Calle, and Marincin. Martin left early. Rosen might be checking his North America options first before heading home.
Finally Kenny Agostino. At times it seemed inevitable that Agostino would become a Leaf, but that never materialized and he couldn’t even establish himself near the top of the call up list despite looking like he would initially be brought in as a bargain NHLer. The NHL ship has likely sailed for Agostino and the Leafs will look for their next attempt at finding callup tier players in free agency rather than re-upping here.
Outside of Woll and maybe Duszak, there’s probably not a ton of concern around what becomes of the Marlies crowd. The Leafs might be better off with some fresh faces or finding players that will compliment the prospects they are looking to develop in the AHL, like Robertson and Der-Arguchintsev. The move towards using AHL contracts with greater frequency will probably benefit the team as well. Still expect a lot of new faces to slowly sneak into the organization in late August as the organizational depth gets finalized before camp.