The resolution to the NHL lockout combined with the commencement of the second half of the CHL season has predictably stirred up some player movement in the NHL’s development leagues.
As far as Leaf property, third round pick in 2011 Josh Leivo was traded to the Kitchener Rangers in a deal that saw the Sudbury Wolves move their top forward in Leivo, top defenceman in Frankie Corrado and starting goaltender Joel Vienneau in one swoop.
Leivo makes the move from a lacklustre Sudbury team to a Kitchener Rangers squad that has won despite struggling to score goals. Kitchener added former Peterborough Pete Matt Puempel in an attempt to shore up their offense headed into the season but Puempel hasn’t taken the next step that many expected, netting only 28 points in 27 games so far this year. Leivo instantly assumes the scoring lead on Kitchener (16 points ahead of Puempel) and there’s a very real chance that he’ll supplant Puempel on a line with Radek Faksa and Tobias Rieder.
One of my primary concerns with Leivo will be keeping himself out of Steve Spott’s doghouse. Under Spott, the Rangers have traditionally been one of the least penalized teams in the OHL and Leivo as an aggressive, powerforward-type can take some penalties from time to time. His production could vary dramatically if he were dropped to the second unit as there’s a pretty substantial gap between the scorers and non-scorers on this team. Recently, Leivo has seen an increase in his time on the penaltykill with somewhat mixed results but he does create a lot of chances there and could provide Kitchener with an interesting dynamic on their penaltykill if they choose to use him in that capacity.
If nothing else, Leivo’s on a team that should make a decent run in the OHL playoffs which is probably the best place for him to be from a developmental point of view. He’s unlikely to get the same amount of icetime that he was getting in Sudbury but he’ll be skating alongside a higher calibre of player which should help him round out his offensive game.
The Toronto Marlies, meanwhile, are preparing for the loss of some of their key personnel to the Leafs. Matt Frattin and Ben Scrivens are the sure bets as of now (both are sitting and not risking injury tonight vs. the Bulldogs), while Kadri and a few others will receive invites to camp and could be lost for longer with impressive showings. Evident in their moves today was that the Marlies are anticipating the loss of at least one of their defencemen to the big leagues. Jake Gardiner will be with the Leafs when he’s back from injury and one of Korbinian Holzer, Mike Kostka or Mark Fraser could make the top seven.
The Marlies signed 21-year-old defenceman Ryan Grimshaw of the ECHL’s Trenton Titans and Cory Syvret, a 23-year-old defenceman and former Panthers draft pick who had been playing for the Alaskan Aces, to Pro Tryout Contracts. Grimshaw and Syvret were at the Marlies camp back in September. Mark Owuya was brought back to the AHL to back up the scorching hot Jussi Rynnas, who takes over the reigns for the Marlies.
Two big forwards also got the recall from the ECHL in 6’5 center Andrew Crescenzi and tough guy Jamie Devane.[table “63” not found /]
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