Quick thoughts on a couple youngsters:
– Joe Colborne has been different player this season. After getting a brief taste of NHL calibre action, he has integrated that knowledge and experience into a more well-rounded and flat out dominant offensive game. He’s taking the rush hard to the net, he’s displaying impressive puck protection ability down low and quicker instincts in tight. He has 3 goals and 4 assists forÂ 7 points through 4 games with the Marlies thus far.
– Stuart Percy hasn’t missed a beat since dominating at last year’s Memorial Cup tournament. The young blueliner has garnered glowing reviews for his maturity and poise. Thus far, he’s demonstrated an improved offensive game marked primarily by increased confidence to be more aggressive, particularly on the Majors’ top powerplay unit. He boasts a robust 7 points and +12 rating through the first 9 games played.
– The Maple Leafs’ other 2011 first round pick, Tyler Biggs has had a sub-par couple of months: first with getting cut from the American World Junior team evaluation camp and then getting off to a slow start for Miami University. Power forwards traditionally take a longer time to mature, so it’s much too early to make any sort of conclusions here.
– Keith Aulie’s mediocre preseason saw him demoted in favor of the slick, puckmoving Gardiner and the young defenseman may have had his confidence rattled just a little bit. He’s looking a little tentative on the Marlies’ blueline, sometimes getting caught flatfooted because of his indecisiveness. Aulie needs to regain that assertive, physical game that earned him a big role with the NHL club last season.
Players to Watch:
– Garrett Sparks appears to have solidified some regular playing time with the Guelph Storm. He’s been inconsistent at times but flashes some intriguing potential and the ability to make key game-changing saves. The Storm defense hasn’t exactly been rock solid in front of him, but it’s certainly looking like Sparks can successfully wrestle the starting job away from Brandon Foote.
– Sondre Olden’s transition to the North American game has gone smoothly thus far, playing with Greg McKegg for the Erie Otters. The team has been beyond atrocious thus far, but Olden has certainly been one of the bright spots with 8 points through 8 games played. The lanky Norwegian forward possesses immense offensive potential and has been a force with his speed in the open ice. The Erie coaches have enough confidence in the youngster to run the offense through him as the team’s point man on the powerplay.