The Toronto Marlies are heading into a very interesting summer following their 2021 pandemic season. It wasn’t a great year, for a multitude of reasons, with the team being shut down due to COVID protocols and another disappointing season in the standings.
There were reasons to be optimistic, as a lot of players who normally wouldn’t have been given such a prominent role on the team, got to play a season in the AHL and did really well. On the flip side, some players didn’t, and with a heap of contracts having come off the books in the last two seasons, it’ll be interesting to see how the roster is constructed as a result. Let’s not forget, the Newfoundland Growlers didn’t play so a whole team of players on AHL and ECHL contracts need to be brought back.
The first bit of business came today when the Marlies announced that they have brought back trade acquisition Antti Suomela (C, 27) on a one-year AHL deal, as well as signing captain of the WHL Medicine Hat Tigers, Ryan Chyzowski (LW, 21).
Suomela was on an NHL contract last season, making $350k in the AHL and $700k in the NHL. The Marlies now get to retain him on an AHL-only deal that doesn’t count towards the Leafs 50 roster spots for next season. Suomela was acquired from San Jose in the retained salary portion of the Nick Foligno trade.
Chyzowski went undrafted in 2018, but was at the Winnipeg Jets rookie camp in 2019 before going back to Medicine Hat. He scored 69 points in 2019-20 and 29 points in 23 games last season.
Marlies re-sign Antti Suomela to an AHL contract, as well as WHL overager Ryan Chyzowski https://t.co/Ehp50uqDWp— Hardev Lad (@HardevLad) June 15, 2021
With them accounted for, let’s go through all the players on NHL and AHL deals and see how the team shapes up heading into the summer.
The following players are still under contract with the Maple Leafs. I’ve specified players who might get promoted to the Leafs next year, there’s only a couple.
- Nicholas Robertson (19, LW) — Leafs, maybe
- Mikhail Abramov (20, C) — Marlies rookie
- Semyon Der-Arguchintsev (20, C)
- Filip Hallander (almost 21, C)
- Joey Anderson (almost 23, RW) — Leafs, probably
- Timothy Liljegren (22, RD) — Leafs, probably
- Filip Kral (21, LD)
- Mac Hollowell (22, RD)
- Kristians Rubins (23, LD)
- Teemu Kivihalme (26, LD) — happy belated birthday
- Ian Scott (22, G)
- Michael Hutchinson (31, G)
Draft prospects Amirov and Holmberg got ELCs this spring. They’ll spend their final seasons in Europe before coming to the Marlies in 2022, sometime around March or April.
- Rodion Amirov (20, LW) — Loan to KHL
- Pontus Holmberg (22, LW) — Loan to SHL
- Alex Steeves (21, C)
- Kirill Semyonov (26, C) — Leafs, probably
- Erik Kallgren (24, G)
Semyonov is a KHL signing from Avangard Omsk, signed to a one-year deal. He’s the new Mikheyev, Barabanov, etc.
Kallgren, the goalie, comes from Vaxjo of the SHL and is on a two-year deal.
Steeves is an NCAA free agent who got a whopping three-year ELC.
NHL Free Agents and Who’s Gone
Per Katya’s article that Leafs free agents are already leaving, here is a list of the UFAs and RFAs and where some have already found greener pastures. We’ll miss you, MarMar.
- Stefan Noesen (RW, 28)
- Nic Petan (C, 26, RFA)
- Kenny Agostino (LW, 29) — Gone, Torpedo (KHL)
- Kalle Kossila (C, 28) — Gone, Jokerit (KHL)
- Scott Sabourin (RW, 28)
- Denis Malgin (RW, 24, RFA)
- Antti Suomela (C, 27) — signed an AHL contract, details below
- Martin Marincin (GOD, 29) — Gone, HC Ocelari (Czech)
- Calle Rosen (LD, 27)
- Joey Duszak (RD, 23, RFA)
- Veini Vehviläinen (G, 24, RFA)
- Joseph Woll (G, 22, RFA)
Petan, Malgin, Duszak, VV, and Woll make up all the RFAs the Leafs have apart from Travis Dermott. We’ll see later in the summer if they all get qualifying offers. Duszak is on the bubble for one to me. Among the list, only Woll doesn’t have arbitration rights.
It’s sad to see some of the veterans go. Marincin is a legend who needs no introduction and is welcome back anytime. I really liked Agostino, and I hope he has lots of fun playing competitive hockey in Russia. Kossila as well, and a fully healthy season to boot.
The following players are on the second of their two-year AHL contracts:
- Jeremy McKenna (RW, 22)
- Gordie Green (RW, 24)
- Bobby McMann (C, 25)
- Riley McCourt (RD, 21)
- Noel Hoefenmayer (LD, 22)
McKenna was a revelation this season, jumping right into the top-six and staying there with his speed, tenacity, and talent. McCourt and Hoefenmayer also got regular minutes on defense and are good prospect to have, especially if there are changes to the NHL-contracted defensemen above them.
Where Did Gogolev Go?
We have every reason to believe Marlies prospect Pavel Gogolev will be back next season. However his contract status is very much unknown. The Marlies never formally announced they had signed him beyond an “AHL Contract” on the AHL’s Transactions page. We don’t know if it was a one- or two-year deal, but the team would be silly to not bring him back after scoring six goals and 12 points in 13 games to end the season.
We might never hear about an extension simply because it was a two-year deal all along, or we’ll get the news that he’s signed again. Either way, I fully expect him to randomly show up on the Marlies camp roster in October.
AHL Free Agents and Who’s Gone
The following players were on the Marlies last season, they are now free agents who have yet to sign for next season.
- Rich Clune (LW, 34)
- Tyler Gaudet (C, 28)
- Rourke Chartier (C, 25)
- Justin Brazeau (RW, 23)
- Hudson Elynuik (C, 23)
- Scott Pooley (RW, 27) - gone to Lukko (Liiga)
- Colt Conrad (C, 24)
I hope to see Clune, Gaudet, and Chartier back at the very least. They were all excellent, Chartier was an especially welcoming breath of fresh air and energy in the top six. Brazeau and Conrad didn’t quite have the seasons many were hoping for at the start of the year as they faded into the bottom six rather than assert themselves into a higher position in the lineup. I’d still stick with them for another year to see what they have.
Rebuilding the Growlers
There are also three core players from the Newfoundland Growlers who stayed home for the season, including local captain James Melindy, who are free agents this summer. It’s a good bet they’ll return to the Growlers for next season.
- James Melindy “C”
- Todd Skirving
- Mark Tremaine
This is all the contract and roster information I can get my hands on. The Marlies have a lot of work to do, as they’ll need to sign several players to fill out both the Marlies and Growlers. The Maple Leafs will need to retain some of their depth that hasn’t left already, but also fill the cupboards with prospects because things are pretty thin up front and on defense.
There’s also the question about the Marlies as a team and whether this group is capable of being competitive in the newly reformed North Division. I know you all have questions about roster construction and coaching, but that needs to be a topic for another day.