Before you get too far into this article no it’s not meant to update you on Khloe or Kim, this is to update you on the best team in the AHL, your Toronto Marlies.
Due to the simple fact that the Ricoh Coliseum has been flooded for the last two weeks for the annual boat show, the beloved Blue and White (baby edition) have been on the road over that period of time.
Road or Home, it doesn’t really matter to this Sheldon Keefe coached team….they just keep winning. Currently sporting a 31-8-2 record (.780 winning percentage) the Marlies are coming off of a 5 game road trip and looking to get back into the win column this evening at the Ricoh Coliseum taking on the Syracuse Crunch.
The continuing goaltender carousel got a welcome return from Garret Sparks last game. While he took the loss as the starting goalie, it was a positive step back in his progression to return to the Toronto Maple Leafs. If a trade deadline deal were to occur for one of the ‘starters’ on the big club, Sparks would be looked upon to get more minutes in the NHL as the season winds down. Having used six different goalies on the Marlies team this season, some continuity between the pipes would go a long way towards a Calder Cup run in the spring.
The hottest player for the Marlies continues to be AHL leading point getter (all skaters) T.J. Brennan. With all of the fancy new players on the roster, and the dreams of the upcoming Draft not many people are talking about the solid scoring from this Marlies defenseman. Nominated to the AHL All-Star game, Brennan has 38 pts in 40 games. If (and when) trades take place in Leafs land it wouldn’t shock me to see Brennan get a few starts in the NHL as a reward for his solid play. Low maintenance and a solid leader, I truly wish he could have an opportunity in the NHL, defensive miscues aside.
Brendan Leipsic has been on fire over the last two months of play for the Marlies. Now 5th in scoring on the team, Leipsic recorded a hat trick last week while in St. John’s and never takes a shift off during a game. The diminutive Marlies forward, plays a similar game (less edge) to another Brendan, Gallgaher of the Canadiens. When a forward is required after the deadline or based on injuries, I believe Leipsic should get the call up to the Air Canada Center.
Newest addition to the team, Jeremy Morin (Panik trade) continues to play well with 4 points in the five games he has dressed for the Marlies. With two goals and two assists the 6’1 200 pound Native of Auburn New York is the size of player the Marlies need off of the wing. With a club of smaller hockey players, it is essential to get a bigger framed player into the dirty areas of the ice and this is what Morin provides.
Similar sized to Morin, Zach Hyman is opening eyes around the organization and with the Marlies faithful followers. Hyman has accrued 21 points in his 39 games as a rookie this season and is a solid plus 17. Strong play during 5 on 5 ice time, is the calling card of Hyman. Energetic and a smart player, it is easy to see why Coach Keefe is starting to challenge Zach with increased playing time and more difficult assignments. Hyman is another Marlies player who is flying under the radar, but is one to keep an eye on for the future. With a very limited run, it is hard to predict what the potential upside is for Hyman but hard work and the right attitude goes a long way with this organization. Future updates to follow.
The next month should be interesting times down the Ricoh due to a solid Calder Cup contending team on display at the arena. Kyle Dubas and the management team always have a watchful eye on the Marlies and this fan wonders just exactly what the next move is. Do you continue to roll the 1 year UFA deals on a nightly basis or do you start to give the youth of this organization a taste of what the NHL pace, speed, physicality is like? Would it be prudent to call up a guy like Nikita Soshnikov at some point after the deadline? Do you keep the entire team on the same page so they can get even more focused on the Calder Cup?
On the injury front, William Nylander has started skating again with the Marlies and according to Leafs GM, Lou Lamoriello the young swedish star will be back playing the game ‘sooner than later’.
Exciting times ahead, do not take your eyes off of the Toronto Marlies as I have said before it’s the best ticket and hockey in town. Get your posterior down the Ricoh and embrace the future of this organization.
ICYMI Kapanen with an incredible effort to get the puck to Soshnikov pic.twitter.com/aneSFOtrAu
— Leafs Hub (@LeafsHub) January 17, 2016
Some Player Stat Updates