It’s been a while since I supplied an update about the Toronto Marlies, but with roster turnover picking up the pace and the schedule released since my last article, it’s time for a recap to catch up on the latest state of affairs with the Leafs’ AHL affiliate.
I hope everyone is having a great summer and isn’t dwelling too much on the status of a certain unsigned restricted free agent.
Toronto Marlies Depth Chart
First, the departures: Kristian Pospisil (Lukko), Josh Jooris (Lausanne), Michael Carcone (Ottawa), Josh Kestner (Grand Rapids Griffins), J.J. Piccinich (San Antonio Rampage), Vincent LoVerde (Hartford Wolf Pack), Chris Mueller (Tampa Bay Lightning), Calle Rosen (Colorado Avalanche), Colin Greening (Retired), and Andreas Borgman (traded to the St. Louis Blues).
Current unrestricted free agents who are looking increasingly unlikely to return at this stage: forwards Gabriel Gagne, Nicholas Baptiste, Ryan Moore, Derian Plouffe, Griffen Molino, Tom Sestito; defensemen Jordan Subban, Steve Oleksy, Frank Corrado, Sam Jardine, and goaltender Eamon McAdam.
Toronto has re-signed forwards Giorgio Estephan, Tanner MacMaster, Scott Pooley, Matt Bradley, Hudson Elynuik, Brady Ferguson, Zach O’Brien, added Darren Archibald from Ottawa, and penned Marcus Power to an AHL deal following a strong season in Newfoundland.
On the blue line, Kristians Rubins and Alex Gudbranson both re-signed while Sergei Sapego (Prince Albert Raiders), Ryan Johnston (Mora IK) and Michael Kapla (Minnesota Wild) have been added from outside the organization.
Former Las Vegas Knights draft selection (96th overall in 2017) Maksim Zhukov is the lone addition to the goaltending ranks.
The recent flurry of signings and trades by Leafs management means there are a plethora of players that could be surplus to the roster in the NHL and sent down in September/October. Tyler Gaudet and Kalle Kossila (both on two-way contracts) are the most likely to join the Marlies after camp, but other possibilities on one-way deals include Kenny Agostino, Ben Harpur, Aaron Luchuk, Pontus Aberg, Nick Shore, Garrett Wilson, Kevin Gravel, and Jordan Schmaltz, although it goes without saying that some of the aforementioned are more plausible targets to be reassigned than others.
In the depth chart below, the names in bold are in contention for an NHL roster spot to begin the season.
|Left Wing:||Center||Right Wing|
|Mason Marchment||Adam Brooks||Jeremy Bracco|
|Dmytro Timashov||Pierre Engvall||Egor Korshkov|
|Kenny Agostino (C/LW)||Nick Shore||Pontus Aberg (LW)|
|Garrett Wilson (LW/RW)||Kalle Kossila (LW)||Darren Archibald (LW)|
|Rich Clune||Tyler Gaudet (LW)||Justin Brazeau|
|Trey Bradley||Aaron Luchuk||Zach O'Brien (Centre)|
|Brady Ferguson||Scott Pooley|
|Hudson Elynuik (not officially signed)|
|Riley Woods (LW)|
|Tanner MacMaster (LW)|
|Rasmus Sandin||Timothy Liljegren||Kasimir Kaskisuo|
|Teemu Kivihalme||Jordan Schmaltz||Michael Hutchinson|
|Kevin Gravel||Joseph Duszak||Ian Scott/Joseph Woll|
|Ben Harpur||Mac Hollowell||Maksim Zhukov|
|Kristians Rubins||Jesper Lindgren|
At this tentative stage of the year, the main takeaway is that Toronto has addressed the lack of depth at the center position with up to 14 players who can play down the middle. The Marlies remain deep on both wings, while goaltending is pretty much set in stone barring Michael Neuvirth earning a contract and Michael Hutchinson subsequently clearing waivers.
The shape of the defense will only become clear in late in training camp when Mike Babcock decides on his opening night roster, but Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren project to form the top pairing as of early August. However, with both Andreas Borgman and Calle Rosen moved out this summer, the left side appears to be an area of weakness (again dependant on reassignments) and there should be real opportunities for fringe players to make a mark in the exhibition games.
The 2019-20 Schedule
The most notable change for the 2019-20 Toronto Marlies schedule is that the Marlies will again head out for a Western Conference swing, where they’ll face off against old adversaries in the Grand Rapids Griffins, Rockford Ice Hogs, San Antonio Rampage, and Texas Stars. It brings a refreshing diversity to the schedule that I’ve been an advocate of for a while, helping to break up the monotony of a division-heavy schedule.
Speaking of the North Division, Toronto will face Belleville on 12 occasions, Laval and Cleveland eight times, and Rochester and Syracuse six games apiece, while a mildly surprising change is only matching up for four tilts against Utica and Binghamton.
A disappointing facet of the schedule is the lack of games slated against Atlantic Division opponents as the Marlies will only play four of the eight teams for a combined ten games — namely Bridgeport (2), Hershey (2), Lehigh (2), and Charlotte (4).
The summer expectation was that the American Hockey League would make a real effort to cut down on the number of three-in-three’s, but the Marlies have been handed five of those energy-sapping tests, an increase of one from last season.
The Marlies’ busiest months of the season will be February and March, with the team in action 13 times. Those two months also mark the best time to catch the team in action as they play a combined 16 games on home ice.
Scotiabank Arena will play host for four (home) games, which includes a Marlies and Leafs doubleheader (November 30) and games on Boxing Day (December 26), Family Day (February 17), and St. Patrick’s Day (March 17).