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2021 Toronto Marlies Season Preview: Robertson, Sandin headline roster

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The Marlies have also adopted about half the OHL.

Toronto Maple Leafs v Columbus Blue Jackets
TORONTO, ONTARIO - AUGUST 06: Nicholas Robertson #89 of the Toronto Maple Leafs is congratulated by his teammate Alexander Kerfoot #15 after scoring his first career NHL goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets during the second period in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Qualification Round prior to the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on August 06, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario.
Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images

Welcome to another AHL season, please keep your masks on at all times.

The Toronto Marlies are set to begin the 2021 season in Winnipeg tonight at 7pm. Here is an overview of the schedule we have so far, and a roster that is full of new, young faces.

The Schedule

So far we have eight games on the schedule. Four in a row against the Manitoba Moose in Winnipeg, and four in a row against the Stockton Heat in Calgary. I assume now that the Ontario Government have allowed the Marlies and Senators to play at home we’ll get more games for the Canadian Division soon.

Four @ Moose:

  • Game 1: Tonight! Feb 15th, 7pm ET @ Manitoba Moose
  • Game 2: Tuesday, Feb 16th, 8pm ET @ Manitoba Moose
  • Game 3: Thursday, Feb 18th, 7pm ET @ Manitoba Moose
  • Game 4: Friday, Feb 19th, 5pm ET @ Manitoba Moose

Four @ Heat:

  • Game 5: Sunday, Feb 21st, 4pm ET @ Stockton Heat
  • Game 6: Tuesday, Feb 23rd, 8pm ET @ Stockton Heat
  • Game 7: Wednesday, Feb 24th, 8pm ET @ Stockton Heat
  • Game 8: Friday, Feb 26th, 4pm ET @ Stockton Heat

The first two games of the season are free to stream on AHL.tv. I recommend giving it a shot, it’s a really good service now. A single-team package for the full season is $35 USD right now. $20 USD for one month of games.

The Roster

I made some choices with order and position, but this is everyone on the Marlies roster as of Sunday night.

The players in bold are on NHL contracts. Of them, those with (E) next to their names are waivers exempt for this season. If those without an (E) are called up and are on the NHL roster for 10 games/30 days, they’ll need waivers again. The rest are AHL contracts and try-outs.

  • Left Wing: Nick Robertson (E), Kenny Agostino, Pavel Gogolev, Rich Clune, James Hardie, Zack Trott
  • Centre: Adam Brooks, Kalle Kossila, Tyler Gaudet, Rourke Chartier, Hudson Elynuik, Bobby McMann, Keegan Stevenson
  • Right Wing: Joey Anderson (E), Scott Pooley, Justin Brazeau, Colt Conrad, Jeremy McKenna, Gordie Green, Cole MacKay
  • Left Defense: Rasmus Sandin (E), Calle Rosen, David Warsofsky, Teemu Kivihalme (E), Kristians Rubins (E), Riley McCourt
  • Right Defense: Timothy Liljegren (E), Mac Hollowell (E), Joseph Duszak (E), Sergei Sapego
  • Goalies: Ian Scott (E), Kai Edmonds, Andrew D’Agostini

The Leafs obviously have a logjam at left defense. Kivihalme was a first pair defenseman for the Marlies last year and he could very easily be a scratch this season. The Leafs have eight NHL-contracted defenders on the Marlies, but at forward it’s much more shallow.

There are only five forwards with NHL contracts on the roster at the moment. Robertson, Brooks, Anderson, Agostino, and Kossila. We expect to see Semyon Der-Arguchintsev and Yegor Korshkov (and maybe Filip Hallander and Denis Malgin?) later in the season when their European years end. At the very least, once the Leafs get fully healthy (Campbell, Thornton, and Simmonds) the Marlies should get one more player from them (Joseph Woll, Scott Sabourin, etc).

In net, there are three goalies with little-to-no AHL experience. It’s Ian Scott for now with OHL graduate Kai Edmonds (MIS) and ECHL veteran Andrew D’Agostini. Edmonds and D’Agostini are local to the GTA.

Where are they from

Leafs/Taxi Squad Tweeners:

The Leafs have a deep roster of tweeners this season. It’s likely we’ll see the following players moving between the NHL, Taxi Squad, and AHL a lot this season. All of these players are either waivers exempt or have shown they can clear:

  • Forwards: Pierre Engvall, Alexander Barabanov, Jason Spezza, Scott Sabourin, Nic Petan Travis Boyd, Adam Brooks, Nick Robertson, Joey Anderson
  • Defense: Mikko Lehtonen, Martin Marincin, Rasmus Sandin
  • Goalies: Michael Hutchinson, Joseph Woll

Returnees:

  • Forwards: Adam Brooks, Kalle Kossila, Kenny Agostino, Tyler Gaudet, Hudson Elynuik, Scott Pooley, Colt Conrad, and Rich Clune
  • Defense: Rasmus Sandin, Timothy Liljegren, Calle Rosen, Teemu Kivihalme, Kristians Rubins, Mac Hollowell, Joey Duszak, and Sergei Sapego

Michael Hutchinson and Joseph Woll will both be returning goalies for this season.

Conrad and Sapego didn’t spend much time on the Marlies, they were on the Growlers mostly. As you probably know, Ian Scott was on the Marlies injury list all season rehabbing a hip injury.

Graduating Prospects:

Within the Leafs stable, Robertson and Scott are the biggest and newest faces that should make a splash this season. Justin Brazeau on an AHL contract is also in the mix.

I’m hoping to see SDA, Hallander, and Kral later this season.

AHL Signings:

With the lack of money available in the AHL, contracts have been hard to come by. Rourke Chartier signed with the Marlies early and seems to be the only new face familiar with the AHL here. Scott Sabourin was set to join him, but he was given an NHL contract with the Leafs and is expected to play for them against Ottawa this week. We might see him later.

Junior Free Agents:

There’s a lot of 20/21 year old players fresh out of the OHL on this roster. The Marlies needed to fill out their forward group over the past week and with COVID, finding local guys was the best option. Here’s a list of all the OHL graduates. There are a couple guys from Guelph, Mississauga, and of course The Soo.

  • Forwards: Pavel Gogolev (GUE), Cole Stevenson (GUE), James Hardie (MIS), Zack Trott (SSM), Cole McKay (SSM),
  • Defense: Riley McCourt (FLI)
  • Goalies: Kai Edmonds (MIS)

And there are three prospects the Marlies signed from the NCAA and QMJHL earlier in 2020: Jeremy McKenna (MON), Gordie Green (NCAA), and Bobby McMann (NCAA). Noel Hoefenmayer is in the ECHL with Wichita right now playing lots of minutes. He’s still under contract with the Marlies.

Why you should care

This AHL season is going to be tryouts for next year’s training camp. Joey Anderson, Nick Robertson, Rasmus Sandin, Timothy Liljegren, dare I say Ian Scott and Joseph Woll? And if later in the season the likes of Hallander, Korshkov, SDA, and Kral come over, it’ll be a chance for them to make an impression. I have high hopes for Hallander, in an ideal world I would love to see him in the AHL and see what he can bring to the Leafs in 2021-22.

UPDATE:

The Marlies seem to have read this preview and said, wow, that’s not enough goalies.

They have signed Jeremy Link to an ATO. Link is 23, and very conveniently from Winnipeg, so it seems they’re adding him when they arrive there. He is Marlies winger size, which makes him an unusual goalie in this day and age. He played in the Winnipeg area Junior A system, never in the WHL. He was a member of the University of Manitoba team last season getting one start.

This seems very much like an EBUG sort of acquisition, “out of an abundance of caution”.


UPDATE PART TWO:

The Marlies have released their official roster:

Sorry for the format, but that’s just how they do it now.

Notable is the “travel quarantine or injured list, which includes Ian Scott as well as players who were called up from the ECHL in the USA or who have arrived from Europe.. But not, crucially, Jeremy Link.