Welcome to the Playoffs, Awards, and Injury Ward edition of the Leafs Prospect Update!
Starting with the bad news, Erie Captain and surprise statistical standout Connor Brown suffered a head injury (read: concussion) against London on the 18th and missed this weekend’s games. Erie is well out of the playoff mix and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Brown sit out the rest of the year to recover — it’s probably what’s best for him in the long run.
On a positive note, Matt Finn is expected to make his long awaited return to the Guelph this weekend after missing his second string of games as a result of mono. Finn has been good while in the lineup but it seems like he’s been fighting this illness for most of the middle of the season. Guelph has already clinched a playoff spot in the OHL so it’s all about getting up to game speed for the Guelph Captain.
Morgan Rielly has turned on the offense for the Moose Jaw Warriors and was the WHL Player of the Week for the week of February 11th to February 17th. There isn’t much left to say about Rielly, whose offensive acumen is undeniable. The question with Rielly, as ever, is whether he’ll be able to be effective in his own zone at the pro level and we should get a glimpse into that sooner than later. Moose Jaw’s regular season comes to an end on March 16th and barring a minor miracle, they’ll be outside of the WHL’s playoff picture. Once Moose Jaw’s season is over, Rielly will be able to join the Toronto Marlies as they close out their regular season and (likely) get ready for the AHL playoffs.
Another potential reinforcement for the Toronto Marlies is Mississauga Captain Stuart Percy. After a great start to the year, the Steelheads have been playing horrible hockey lately and are actually at risk of falling out of the playoff picture in the OHL’s Eastern Conference. This team is no match for the top teams in the conference and will probably be an easy out unless they can turn things around pretty dramatically. Like Rielly, Percy will be a nice addition for the Marlies, who have lost most of their defense to the Leafs roster.
I’m really looking forward to the end of the Marlies’ season with two of the Leafs’ better prospects in Percy and Rielly looking likely to get some pro experience under their belts. Percy played a handful of games with the Marlies last year, so this will be his second go around, but the team is a little bit more thin on the blueline this year. There will probably be more opportunities for a couple of guys with an NHL future in their sights.[table “63” not found /]
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