Ben Scrivens and Jussi Rynnas split a shutout in the Marlies‘ second and final matchup of their 2012 preseason last night. Scrivens held the Hamilton Bulldogs goalless despite facing 17 shots to the Marlies’ 6 in the first. A breakaway goal from captain Ryan Hamilton in the second proved enough to win as Rynnas preserved the shutout the rest of the way. Greg McKegg (assist) and Sam Carrick (scorer), two AHL rookies vying to remain on the Marlies roster when the cuts come down the pipe today or tomorrow, combined for an insurance marker and the Marlies walked out of Brantford with a 2-0 victory.
Dallas Eakins is expected to make his round of cuts today and pare his group down to the 26 or so players he’s going to keep on his roster to start the season. The indication is that Eakins is willing to carry as many as five forward lines (15), four pairings of defencemen (8) and three goalies, and based on the performances in the exhibitions and hints out of Eakins we can guess the 26 are:
Forwards: Nazem Kadri, Keith Aucoin, Greg Scott, Mike Zigomanis, Joe Colborne, Ryan Hamilton, Nicolas Deschamps, Jerry D’Amigo, Leo Komarov, Carter Ashton, Will Acton, Greg McKegg, Brad Ross, Kenny Ryan, Spencer Abbott (15)
Defencemen: Jake Gardiner, Mark Fraser, Korbinian Holzer, Paul Ranger, Mike Kostka, Jesse Blacker, Dylan Yeo, Simon Gysbers (8)
Goalies: Ben Scrivens, Jussi Rynnas, Mark Owuya (3)
Headed to Fort Wayne (ECHL): Sam Carrick, Andrew Crescenzi, Jamie Devane, Tyler Brenner
Update: Damien Cox reports the Marlies have sent Sam Carrick, Andrew Crescenzi and Tyler Brenner to Fort Wayne of the ECHL. That means Kenny Ryan, Greg McKegg and Brad Ross stay with the Marlies to start the season. No word yet as to the status of Devane.
It’s easy to see how, the longer this lockout goes on, the bigger the challenge gets for Eakins in distributing the ice time. He’s got to balance icing the best team he can against heightened competition with the individual development objectives of each of his players. Some might ask why GM Dave Nonis bothered adding Kostka, Ranger or Aucoin given the breadth of younger prospects looking for ice time, but – besides probably not foreseeing a lockout of any serious length – nurturing your young assets in a winning and internally competitive environment with veteran support remains important. The Marlies also needed a few players who both have experience and can provide mobility between the AHL and NHL. Ranger and Kostka fill out the 10 defencemen list Brian Burke likes to have on his depth chart going into the season and Aucoin gives a call up option up front with NHL time under his belt.
Fortunately these types of situations often look a little more convoluted on paper than they end up being; the AHL’s “play in bunches” schedule lends itself to player rotation to some degree, as opposed to playing the same group in triple headers back-to-back-to-back. Injuries and player performance also often make the decisions for you. Eakins isn’t totally unfamiliar with this game either as the Marlies carried Tyler Brenner and Kenny Ryan on the roster last season before assigning them to the ECHL a few months into the season.
One promising sign already for the Marlies’ prospects in 2012-13 is that they seem like a much better team than Hamilton, who they’ll play a whopping 12 times this season thanks to the AHL’s division-heavy, save-on-travel schedule.
Quick Highlights from last night’s win:
Last Night in Leafs Prospects:
Stuart Percy: pointless, -1 in Mississauga’s 4-3 OT win over Brampton; 4 points in 7 games on the season; Percy is captaining the new Steelheads, who sit at 3-3-1 through seven games.
Tyler Biggs: pointless, +1 in Oshawa Generals’ 4-3 win over Belleville; 8 points in 7 games on the season; his Generals are atop the OHL at 6-1 with a whopping 34 goals scored.
Greg McKegg: caps off impressive training camp and exhibition showing with an assist in the Marlies 2-0 preseason win over Hamilton.
Sam Carrick: scored his first as a Marlie in the win.