The Skinny: Is Andrew Nielsen a better prospect with more of a future with the Leafs than Martin Marincin? I’d have to think so, but that’s merely my opinion. The real question here today is if you are the GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs who do you have higher on this seasons depth chart. I don’t want to sway voting but do you want Nielsen playing in the NHL in a limited reserve role or is big minutes in the AHL the best thing for him. Marincin seems more suited to fill the role of extra man or the 6th D. However, many would like to move on from Marincin completely and it’s reasoning is understandable, as you’ll read below. So the question to ask now has evolved into who is best suited for a roster spot with the big club in 2017/18, Nielsen or Marincin. The winner moves on the the Finals and a chance to be slotted in by LeafsHub.com and its readers as the 6th defense.
Tale of the Stick Tape
20 years old
Toronto Marlies – AHL
74gms 14g 25a 39pts
Nielsen’s summary I mentioned last round I can draw on more personal experience. I’m rooting for him. From first viewing on and holding firm with that today, I’ve predicted big things for the 65th pick overall in the 2015 draft. After the Maple Leafs and Mark Hunter took somewhat of a flyer on Nielsen and he showed the hockey world why, putting up 70pts in 71gms for Lethbridge in his draft year + 1. Beyond the viewings I’ve spoke with Andrew on a couple occasions during rookie camps and with the Marlies and got to know his off ice persona through others he’s stayed with while training. In my findings the word which comes to mind is driven. Nielsen has worked hard on his physical frame and incorporating it into his play. As a junior he was criticized at times for not using his size and has made a conscious effort to add an element of nasty to his game. Now the expectations I put on the defenseman and his path of getting there will be determined or made more clear based on this upcoming season and his summer. For Nielsen, though I didn’t get to zero in as much as on his play I would’ve liked to, his first campaign with the Marlies was very much the pattern of a rookie blueliner with offensive upside.
Skating is the area of improvement most associated with Nielsen when discussing him taking the next step. While I do agree this is something that needs work, I chalk it up to processing as much as anything. The pro game happens fast and often times thinking quick is an equal asset to being quick. And more often than not if you are just a little behind the action you can find yourself either chasing the play or forcing actions. If Nielsen can slow it down, let the game come to him, and be assertive in his defensive decision making there’s a huge jump there to be had. Basically, all Nielsen has to do is gain experience, use it, and not be a rookie. Something he had no control over. I think Nielsen is being overlooked a little based on the rounded-ness and readiness of his fellow draft classmate in Travis Dermott. But you can talk about the natural stumbles and learning curve all you want. What’s undeniable is the massive, massive potential for production in Nielsen. His cannon from the point is high to elite level NHL caliber and only going to get harder. The best part about that fact is the complimentary seeing eye wrist shot he carries along with the bomb. He gets shots through and makes very heady passes from the top as well. As good as the Leafs PP was the one thing it lacks is a true point threat. Andrew Nielsen can be that threat. 14 goals as 20 year old defenseman in the AHL is extremely noteworthy, with 25 assists to throw in. Those are the kind of numbers I project for him as a full time member of the Maple Leafs if he finds his way onto the already lethal powerplay. When that day will be I’m not sure. Will he make the jump or is it another year with added responsibility for the Marlies? Whichever it is, at some point in the not so distant future, bank on Nielsen getting a real shot to prove his worth and show off his offensive acumen. With a little more work don’t be surprised if he shows you a new found menacing side as well.
6’4 (not including 11′ stick)
Toronto – NHL
2016/17 25gms 1g 6a 7pts +3
Advanced stats per @HockeyAnalysis
Where to begin with Martin Marincin. Originally a 2nd round pick in the 2010 NHL entry draft by the Edmonton Oilers, Marincin was acquired by Toronto for a 4th round pick in 2015. Polarizing is the word oft used to describe players who are appreciated by one group and criticized by the other, and by definition that might as well make Marty the North Bean Pole. Marincin has long been a point of reference in the analytics community as a defenseman who doesn’t always pass the eye test but has strong underlying numbers. What the numbers show is that Marincin consistently is on the ice for more shots for and goals for than against. His long stick makes entry into the zone extremely difficult. With the importance of the neutral zone today I think that’s one area Marincin doesn’t get his recognition by detractors. It’s a low event area of course but breaking up plays under attack is a nice attribute. And I should mention Babcock called Marincin the team’s best penalty killer. He’s shown at times like the end of 2015/16 and at times in the playoffs this year the dude can play. But, and here’s the but, there’s more to the numbers. So that was the good.
For the Leafs #52, to be quite honest, well there’s a bit of a rain cloud following him around. We talk about luck a lot these days and bad luck sticks close to the Czech born blueliner. After a while it’s more than chance. There’s a propensity to make the wrong play at an inopportune juncture and eventually it becomes intrinsic. That’s the fear here and as for the stupidly named “eye test”, Marincin’s intensity level can bring tears to them. There’s a frustration about him that’s hard to ignore. You can’t deny no matter who you are there’s a softness to his play. Now could Marincin develop into a quality player the coach says when he has his confidence is a fine defender? Maybe. But at this point are the Leafs really going wait to see? It’s go time right now for the franchise and yes, Marincin’s numbers are whatever they are, good. But what isn’t all that grand is his vibe in general. The Buds are measuring at a record high in the mojo department and Marincin is a little lacking, everyone’s not warm. I’m trolling a few of you with the mojo stuff but not necessarily. There were two plays in Game 6 you can’t hide behind. Could’ve happened to anyone. But it didn’t. So what’s the feeling in the room? Is this gonna be a guy players end up rolling there eyes at if turnovers mount? What’s the coach’s thoughts, is he willing to keep working with the lanky Marincin. It’s hard to shake your previous errors sometimes and I hope that he does get the clouds away because there’s decent qualities. If he plays well people will come around. On the flip side, when do you cut bait and just kinda go in another direction. If you’ve seen enough of him in Toronto you are more than entitled. I’m where I should be here as moderator, right on the fence. Do you keep him around as good depth with still a chance to toughen up a bit and settle into a shutdown type role, or do you just say I’ve had my fill with Marty. Beauty of this is it’s up to you.
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