Where it’s been positive information overall coming out of the CHL when it comes to Leafs prospects, the same can’t be said for the NHL hopefuls currently plying their trade with the Marlies one month into the AHL season.
While the Marlies came back in resounding fashion last night, finally finding some offense to the tune of four third period goals, it was no thanks to the prospects we were hoping to take the next step or at least challenge for it in Joe Colborne, Nazem Kadri, or Ben Scrivens (no disrespect to Carter Ashton, who it was nice to see make an impact last night).
Playing on a line together, Kadri and Colborne were up to absolutely nothing last night and were pointless in a game featuring six Marlie goals. Kadri has just 3 assists in 9 games this season, while Colborne has four assists and also hasn’t scored yet. Ben Scrivens’ numbers are less than flattering through six games and I wouldn’t describe him as playing well in any game since the season opener.
Let’s turn this over to Anthony Petrielli, with some thoughts on the Kadri and Colborne scratching and the Marlies’ struggles:
Nazem Kadri and Joe Colborne played on a line together last night, and are both being healthy scratched for the Marlies game tonight. Itâ€™s early in the season, and wouldnâ€™t be getting this much attention if the NHL season was on like it should be, but itâ€™s still noteworthy.
This is a time when Kadri and Colborne have management and coaches full attention, and due to that they should be taking advantage of it and showing everyone why they are both NHL ready. Instead, both have struggled out of the gate. It is worth pointing out that most players on the team are underachieving too, but at the same time, most players donâ€™t have the potential or expectations that either Kadri or Colborne do. Thatâ€™s just the reality of the situation.
Both have been placed on a variety of different lines, whether it be Kadri playing with Aucoin, McKegg or Zigomanis on different units, or Colborne centering wingers like Komarov, Ashton, and even Kadri too. On one hand, itâ€™s understandable why Eakins has been moving pieces around because he needs to find line combos and his team has largely been in a funk. Conversely, it can make it tough for players to find consistency and build rapports with their line mates. Itâ€™s an age old debate in hockey.
The weight of not scoring has clearly gotten to Kadri as heâ€™s gotten back to being a little too
individualistic. At one point last night against Houston, he tried to go through three opposing players at the offensive blueline. When a player is struggling, the best thing to do is usually just keep it simple, get in on the forecheck, put pucks on net, go to the net, etc. Kadri tends to hold onto the puck more when he isnâ€™t scoring. Instead, Kadri should be doing things like this.
Heâ€™ll snap out of it though, heâ€™s too good not to. He did have a nice hit against Abbotsford, by the way.
Joe Colborne simply hasnâ€™t been getting dirty enough. Heâ€™s losing puck along the wall, not getting to the front of the net enough, and has only 11 shots in nine games. Thatâ€™s not nearly good enough for a player of his talent and size. Maybe weâ€™ll see something when Colborne returns that suggests when he gets pissed off he uses his size effectively and dominates, but to this point, we have rarely seen that from him and it definitely leaves something to be desired. I would be remiss, however, if I didnâ€™t point out against Abbotsford I saw him put the puck between a defenderâ€™s legs, dance around him to the outside, then get robbed by the goalie on a wraparound attempt.
More than anything, as you can probably gather, both players have been too cute. They have each been getting some chances, but the Marlies rightfully expect more, and right now they are benching them because of that. The Marlies have a deep team, but these two should still be leaders on it. Gardiner is clearly just that on the backend, and you can plainly see heâ€™s an NHL player in a lower leagueâ€¦ Kadri and Colborne havenâ€™t shown that kind of dominance or superiority yet, this year.
One player I did want to point out quickly is Spencer Abbott. Signed out of Maine last year,
Abbott has found himself watching a lot of games so far this year due to Torontoâ€™s depth, but heâ€™s gotten some chances lately to play and he has looked very, very good. In the first period alone against Houston, he setup Aucoin and Komarov for one-timers in the slot that both missed, and also had a ridiculous behind the back pass to Aucoin in the second. Even with none of those passes being buried, he still notched two assists. Abbott hasnâ€™t shot much yet, but man can he really move the puck. He thinks the game at an extremely high level and is someone to definitely keep an eye on.