Semyon Der-Arguchintsev joined the Toronto Marlies this week for his first taste of AHL action. After three games, he posted four assists (three of which on the power play). He was joined by old friend Nick Robertson, who joined the team after the Toronto Maple Leafs made some changes around their Taxi Squad. The two former Peterborough Petes made a trio with Joey Anderson and had a lot of fun on the ice together.
It wasn’t a perfect reunion for the two prospects as the Marlies played two really good games, but also one real stinker against the Belleville Senators. That said, the four points out of a possible six lifted the Marlies up to second in the Canadian Division behind the Laval Rocket.
Kenny Agostino led the team with five points in three games (2g, 3a) along with 14 shots, followed by Nic Petan (2g, 2a), Joey Anderson (1g, 3a), and SDA (4a) with four points. Joseph Woll stopped 59 of 70 shots across three games for a .842 save percentage (the Belleville game bombed his numbers). The Marlies out-shot their opponents 86-79.
Monday @ Stockton Heat (4-3 W)
SDA made his debut in this game and promptly got his first career AHL point. It was a really nice assist on Adam Brooks’ game-winning goal on the power play early in the third. The Marlies took that lead and carried it the rest of the way to the win. Petan, Liljegren, and Gaudet all scored as well. Woll stopped 21 of 24 in the win.
I would watch the first three Marlies goals of this game. Petan’s goal was just a display of pure dominance. Liljegren launched a literal rocket past Artyom Zagidulin perfectly placed in the top corner. And Gaudet’s solo effort was incredible, sweetened by a great call from Todd Crocker.
Wednesday @ Stockton Heat (5-2 W)
The first half of this game was a tight-checking 30 minutes with both Woll and Garret Sparks making big saves on occasion. You could feel the game wanting to blow up, which is what it did in the second half. After the Heat opened the scoring on a blunder from Duszak and Woll, the Marlies came back with two. The Heat tied the game, but a goal from Nick Robertson set up by SDA put the Marlies ahead, and they rode that to a bigger margin than anticipated. The two youngsters won the game when the Marlies needed them. Woll stopped 22 of 24 in the win, Sparks 26 of 30.
Saturday @ Belleville Senators (2-7 L)
Throw this video out. The Marlies got the opening goal in the first period from Agostino and looked really put together, but suddenly in the second they came out flat and uninterested, giving the B-Sens four unanswered goals. Joey Anderson scored on the power play in the third, but by that point the game was already 6-1. Woll was in net for six goals on 22 shots, tanking his save percentage back down to .881, essentially what he had last year.
As of March 30th, 2018 pick Filip Kral is in Toronto quarantining for his debut with the Marlies. As of April 1st, NCAA product (not employee, they make that very clear) Brennan Kapcheck has a PTO with the Marlies and will join the team following his quarantine. It’ll be really interesting to see these people play for the Marlies to show what they can do.
Nick Robertson replaced Adam Brooks on the second line with SDA and Anderson as Brooks joined the Leafs on the Winnipeg road trip. The top-nine was static other than for that change. On the fourth line, Conrad and Sabourin got cycled out for Elynuik and Pooley in the second game, with Conrad coming back in next to Gordie Green making his AHL debut.
The defense saw a lot of people coming in and out. After the first game, Liljegren joined Brooks for the road trip with the Leafs, Rosen took his place for the two games. Rubins and Hollowell were a consistent pair across the week. Noel Hoefenmayer got the first game with Liljegren, but then moved next to Duszak on the third pair. Rosen was first paired with Sergei Sapego and then Riley McCourt came back for the third game; similar to Liljegren in the role of carrying his partner (I honestly didn’t notice Hoefenmayer once in the Monday game).
Woll was in net the whole week, with Ian Scott the third in the group to travel with the Leafs on their road trip (they took Campbell, Hutchinson, Vehviläinen, and Scott). Andrew D’Agostini, seemingly healthy from his injury, backed up Woll.
Petan - Kossila - Agostino
Brooks/Robertson - Der-Arguchintsev - Anderson
Chartier - Gaudet - McKenna
Clune - Conrad/Elynuik/Conrad - Sabourin/Pooley/Green
Hoefenmayer/Sapego/McCourt - Liljegren/Rosen
Rubins - Hollowell
McCourt/Hoefenmayer - Duszak
Forwards (SDA, Robertson, Anderson, Conrad)
Right off the bat, I could tell SDA was comfortable off the rush; he moves really well and knows how to make space and open lanes through the neutral zone. Defensively he played the centre position well and knew how to be an conduit for the defenders and forwards. He seems fine in his own zone, but I think being able to challenge physically for pucks on a regular basis will come when he fills out his frame. Yes, even short guys can do that and be good players in the corner. He has the brain for it — knows where to be and gets his stick in good places — but when it comes to the AHL, that kind of stuff comes with time. Robertson is still learning it too.
SDA is very focused on passing, not just the time he sent back a point-blank chance with Sparks for Robertson who wasn’t close to the net, but I noticed an overall tendency of passing being the number one and number two options. I have to think the Marlies are telling him to be more greedy and take more shots, even if he feels like he’s forcing it a little bit. SDA has great mechanics for a shot, he just needs the confidence. That said, I get the impulse to send it to Robertson, he has one of the best prospect shots in the game (no, I’m not just saying that because he scored 50 in the OHL, his shot is incredibly hard and accurate).
I really like the line with SDA, Robertson, and Anderson. Robertson and SDA are pretty lethal from the wings, especially with a good puck-moving defenseman like Duszak or Hollowell between them. Anderson made a really good net-front guy who could find open spaces at the right time, or tip pucks and get dirty in front of the net. All three are fast, agile players who work extremely hard and can move fluidly in all three zones. It means they can cover for each other, create outlets for passes up the ice, or seams in and around the net. They play a real Leafs system; always moving, always attacking in from the outside with a priority on owning the top of the zone but also being there to win board battles.
Robertson still feels a little, I want to say jittery, when he’s on the ice. His movements are really quick, but it’s almost like his instinct is not quite calibrated to work on an AHL defender. He’s close. I wouldn’t try to change him in any way, but I think having him learn the system a little more and be a bit more on top of it, rather than chasing like I’ve seen so far, will help him greatly towards using his speed and skill to beat defenses.
Similar to the Leafs, the Marlies can sometimes turn into globetrotters in the offensive zone. Using shots from high to create pressure down low, with the forwards and defensemen cycling to retain the puck and using speed to get the puck first and tire the defense out. There was one shift in Game 1 where almost two pairs and three lines got out there, hemming one Heat unit in their own zone. The shift produced some really good chances, I was especially impressed with Riley McCourt as a calm puck-mover who can cover up for other defensemen getting a bit too carried away with the whole “total hockey” thing.
Defense (Hollowell, Rubins, McCourt)
Hollowell plays like he wants to be 6’1” but isn’t. He definitely needs to get on the inside of players when fighting for pucks more. He makes a lot of motions but doesn’t quite move to where he needs to be until the last second. A more simple game without the puck wouldn’t hurt. He reminds me very much of Travis Dermott, in both his pros and cons. I think there’s NHL potential here, but whether he ends up better or worse than Dermott as a third pair guy is up to minutes at the NHL level. I think there’s a fight between him and Rubins for a first pair job. Whichever gets to play with the real boys (Sandin, Liljegren, Rosen, Marincin) will be on a good track. I should mention I saw both of Rubins and Hollowell get shifts with the top guy fairly regularly, whether it was Liljegren or Rosen. I don’t have access to TOI but I would guess they played the second- and third-most minutes at even strength.
At the moment, they’re paired together with Riley McCourt with Liljegren or Rosen. McCourt has been really dependable as a two-way defenseman for the Marlies this season I think he’s fully earned the assignment to wingman the top guy that’s there on the day for now. I don’t think the top-four the Marlies have this season is the best in the AHL, but they’re floating along at a decent top 10-15 clip. I’m excited to see them develop because they’re all quite young. I’m also excited to see how Filip Kral mixes this group up.
I’ve said it before, but Woll is that kind of really boring goalie that can play well when there’s a controlled environment around him. He can be the guy to help win a game or two, but once in a while, he’ll lay an egg. He doesn’t have the dynamism you sometimes need in a goalie, and he can sometimes get lost in the movements and be a bit too slow for a fast play going on around him. He seemed to get deflated when the rest of the team did in the Belleville game and it spiraled into an awful performance. I have to admit I saw this last season but tried not to make too much of it, I even did the no-no of taking out his stinkers and saying he’s not so bad, but I’m seeing it this year too.
I did forget he made this one save, though.
Monday @ Stockton Heat (4-3 W)
Nic Petan (3) from Kenny Agostino (9) and Riley McCourt (1)
Timothy Liljegren (2) from Kenny Agostino (10) and Noel Hoefenmayer (1)
Tyler Gaudet (6) unassisted
Adam Brooks (4) from Semyon Der-Arguchintsev (1) and Kalle Kossila (7) (PP) (GWG)
Wednesday @ Stockton Heat (5-2 W)
Kalle Kossila (2) from Semyon Der-Arguchintsev (2) and Joey Anderson (4) (PP)
Tyler Gaudet (7) from Jeremy McKenna (3)
Nick Robertson (3) from Semyon Der-Arguchintsev (3) (GWG)
Kenny Agostino (4) from Nic Petan (3) and Calle Rosen (5) (PP)
Nic Petan (4) from Kenny Agostino (11) (ENG)
Saturday @ Belleville Senators (2-7 L)
Kenny Agostino (5) from Nic Petan (4) and Joseph Duszak (5)
Joey Anderson (7) from Joseph Duszak (6) and Semyon Der-Arguchintsev (4)