Weâ€™ve taken a look at the front end of the depth on the Marlies. Now itâ€™s time to take a look at the back end. Defense is perhaps the strongest part of this yearâ€™s Marlies squad, mirroring the look of the Leafs in that respect. Letâ€™s take a look:
Bio: Holzer has more than just an awesome name. At age 22, Holzer has just come from an impressive DEL season in Germany, getting 22 points in 52 games. He has a sizable frame at 6â€™3â€ and 205 pounds and is not afraid to lay out a good check now and then. Holzer is likely the Leafsâ€™ D prospect closest to earning a NHL spot, with a few games in place of injured players likely this season.
Estimated totals if he plays the full season: 8 goals, 36 assists, 44 points
Bio: Mikus was a bit of an unknown going into the 09-10 season. He had received very little ice time in the top Slovakian league, earning just 5 points in 08-09. However, the now 21 year old surprised many fans, putting up a respectable 5 goals and 23 points for the Marlies last season in his rookie year in North America. Mikus needs to add muscle to his frame (6â€™4â€, 201 lbs.) and will be challenged to improve his totals this season if he has aspirations of being a powerplay quarterback in the future.
Estimated totals if he plays the full season: 9 goals, 29 assists, 38 points
Bio: Aulie was an understated but substantial part of the Phaneuf trade late last season. Drafted in the fourth round in 2007, Aulie plays the role of shutdown defenseman. Aulie is believed by many to have a long and fruitful career in the NHL ahead of him, so donâ€™t be surprised if heâ€™s on the Leafs sooner rather than later. Aulie is currently recovering from shoulder surgery and may get off to a slow start in 2010-11.
Estimated totals if he plays the full season: 2 goals, 11 assists, 13 points
Bio: Lashoff has yet to live up to his draft position, being taken 22nd overall in 2005 by the Boston Bruins. Lashoff has played 63 games in the NHL, but was unable to crack a bad defense core in Tampa Bay last season. Now in his third NHL organization, Lashoff needs to start showing improvement if he has hopes of being a full time NHL player.
Estimated totals if he plays the full season: 10 goals, 23 assists, 33 points
Bio: Gysbers was recently acquired as one of Burkeâ€™s â€œfree walletsâ€ in the NCAA. He’s a relative unknown, but plays a defense first style of game, similar to Luke Schenn or Keith Aulie. It is obvious that the organization has high hopes for Gysbers, as Burke made sure to mention his name as being a candidate for a roster spot on the Leafs this year. That may be a little presumptuous, but Gysbers could develop into a solid third pairing defender down the line.
Estimated totals if he plays the full season: 1 goal, 10 assists, 11 points
Bio: Paris is the only defensive prospect on the Marlies without a NHL contract. He went undrafted and unsigned in his QMJHL career, putting up decent offensive numbers. The 09-10 season was Parisâ€™ first pro year and he certainly made the most of it. He played 68 games for Gwinnett in the ECHL, putting up 12 goals and 45 points. This earned him a contract with the Marlies, where he played the final 2 games of the season, getting 1 goal and 2 assists. As is often the case with this type of defenseman, Paris is questionable on the defensive side of the game. If he continues to improve, donâ€™t be surprised if he earns a NHL contract with the Leafs at some point this season.
Estimated totals if he plays the full season: 12 goals, 23 assists, 35 points
Likely to spend time on the Reading Royals of the ECHL: Drew Paris
Veteran defenseman: Danny Richmond