Live from the MasterCard Centre of Excellence
For the past two days, the Toronto Marlies held their annual training camp in Etobicoke, ON. Led by new Marlies Coach, Sheldon Keefe, the Marlies players worked through a myriad of drills on day one and then into a scrimmage. The game itself provided little action but players were working on getting themselves acclimated to each other and these new systems that are most certainly working their way down from the NHL parent club and that of Coach Mike Babcock.
Day two began with similar drills, Coach Keefe was working on gap control and attention to detail within those drills. Occasionally stopping the drill to reinforce what Sheldon did not like, it is easy to see who is in charge. Toronto Maples Leafs Assistant General Manager Kyle Dubas watched both days of the practices, and clapped encouragingly when goals were scored during the games (he cheered for both Blue AND White, not taking any sides and showing his politically correct prowess).
‘Notables’ from both days of the camp were somewhat limited due to a lack of cohesion and true high end talent but there were a few. Josh Leivo had an excellent two days. Skating was efficient and got him to the right places on the ice where his passing was extremely accurate which led to a couple goals in the second scrimmage.
Scott Wamsganz also stood out in a positive manner with a couple of goals over the two days. Large frame and skated well, Wamsganz took that body to the front of the net where he deposited the puck into the net on a solid pass from Leivo.
On the blueline Eric Baier looked like he may return to Orlando for extended minutes of play, but an early call up to the Marlies could come to fruition if the need should arise due to injuries.
Heavyweight addition, Justin Johnson looked eager to take the body. There were several glass rattling hits thrown by the entire group on Day 2, but none more apparent than Johnson. The tough left hander looked to be playing slightly above his 220 pound player guide listing but surprisingly got around the ice reasonably well but will have to work on conditioning and endurance if he hopes to get extended minutes with the Marlies.
The Marlies will head to St. Johns for a three game series with the Ice Caps in Newfoundland this week. The team might be getting some players back from the NHL Camp very soon (especially after the game in Buffalo on Tuesday evening). When I talked to a member of the Marlies management team, it was uncertain when the cuts from the Maple Leafs parent club were coming and they would go with the players assembled to the east coast early on Wednesday morning.
Before leaving the rink, the Toronto Maple Leafs announced they had signed Andrew Campbell to a two-way contract. Campbell is 27 years old and had agreed to an AHL contract with the team in July.