Out of respect, I couldn’t write a Marlies article until after Rich Clune re-signed with the team. Now that he has, let’s get our feet wet with a potential roster if/when the season gets underway. The league is looking towards the new year for a start. The ECHL has some franchises starting in December, though the Growlers have opted out of the early start due to border issues. There’s a chance they opt out and don’t play a season for that reason. You can read about those plans and more at our sister site Raw Charge.
First up, there are a handful of players currently on loan in Europe. Mikko Lehtonen, Alexander Barabanov, Denis Malgin, Egor Korshkov, Filip Kral, Kristians Rubins. Lehtonen is expected to join the Maple Leafs once training camp starts, as is Barabanov and probably Malgin since they’ll be fighting for lineup spots. I’m less convinced that we’ll see Korshkov in North America before his KHL season finished in March. He’s doing well there right now with 11 points in 14 games, maybe the Leafs let him finish the year there and bring him in mid-season to potentially jump into the NHL.
Kral and Rubins are part of a very crowded Marlies defense group, which is currently a product of the very crowded NHL contingent. If they can stay in Europe and get playing time, that would be better, but there’s a chance the Marlies want Rubins with them and the rookie Kral in the ECHL. A note on that, the Growlers have not opted into the December start for the 2020-21 season, they can join in the new year if they can put together a team but by my calculations they only have about 12-13 players for that roster.
As I wrote about earlier, the Leafs look like they’re going to be putting about four defensemen in the minors from their current top-seven candidates. That list includes Martin Marincin, Calle Rosen, Timothy Liljegren, Rasmus Sandin, and/or Mikko Lehtonen. A lot of people in the media are asserting that Lehtonen will be in the NHL, so taking them at their word, it’ll probably be the first four in the Minors. That’s one heck of a top-four. Reminiscent of 2018 for sure.
Past them, there’s Teemu Kivihalme, Mac Hollowell, Joseph Duszak, David Warsofsky, and Rubins for a total of nine defensemen. Maybe the Marlies play them all, maybe Rubins stays on loan and they have a more manageable eight.
Calle Rosen - Martin Marincin
Rasmus Sandin - Timothy Liljegren
Teemu Kivihalme - Mac Hollowell
David Warsofsky - Joseph Duszak
This is a little more complicated since the Marlies don’t have enough left wingers, but too many right wingers depending on which Leafs roster you look at. There’s also a host of AHL prospects that the team has tended to put in the ECHL to start.
There will be a few battles for NHL jobs if the team can find space for 22 players (13F, 7D, 2G), fewer with 21 (12F, 7D, 2G), and fewer still if Robertson makes it. Semyon Der-Arguchintsev also has the possibility of going back to the OHL for an overage year, but considering he’s now too old for the World Juniors, he’ll probably start his pro career this year. He’ll likely be the only real young prospect on the team with Mikhail Abramov in the Q, and Filip Hallander probably spending the year in Sweden.
I see the fringe battles coming down to Brooks and Boyd at centre, but they’ll both have to either beat out Pierre Engvall or convince the team to have an extra forward on the roster. Anderson, Malgin, Korshkov, and Barabanov are all fighting for one RW spot that might end up being there or go to both Wayne Simmonds and Jason Spezza. If Robertson makes the team, all of them are in the AHL.
The team is also very weak on the left side (though Korshkov and Barabanov are left shots). Last year’s wingers like Tanner MacMaster, Matt Read, Garrett Wilson, and Matt Lorito are all still free agents and are probably waiting for a schedule to sign up somewhere.
As for some of the AHL prospects, I really hope we get to see Justin Brazeau with the team. He played a full season in the ECHL last year and should probably get a promotion in his second year. Colt Conrad is also in the mix. I doubt the new signings (Noel Hoefenmayer, Jeremy McKenna, Gordie Gree, Bobby McMann, and Riley McCourt) break the trend and start anywhere but the ECHL, especially if they have a season to play in. Rourke Chartier is an interesting player. He’s 24, so not a prospect, but has spent years suffering from concussions, including completely missing last season. He could have NHL potential now that he’s healthy so I definitely see him starting with the Marlies as a centre but playing left wing.
Nic Petan - Brooks/Boyd - Barabanov/Anderson
Kenny Agostino - Kalle Kossila - Malgin/Korshkov
Tanner MacMaster? - Hudson Elynuik - Scott Pooley
Matt Read? - SDA - Justin Brazeau
Rourke Chartier - Colt Conrad - Dicky
In net, it’s Aaron Dell, Justin Woll and Ian Scott. Maybe Scott starts in the ECHL after missing all of last season, but that’ll depend on whether they’re playing games. That said, maybe the Leafs will want to keep all their goalies close, just in case.
We think the AHL will follow the NHL in terms of schedules and their potential changes in divisions. We’ll likely have an NHL and AHL Canadian Division, with those teams playing each other exclusively (fun!), so the Marlies can become somewhat of a B-team taxi squad with all the team’s spares. If the Growlers opt out of the season as a result of the border staying closed, the Leafs will have almost a large army travelling to Belleville and back 40 times in the year (hopefully?).
Various Leafs Branches
Rich Clune is back - Katya
“I’m not leaving.”
The NHL season is over — Now what? - Katya
What we know and what we expect next steps to be to get a 2020-21 season underway.
Here is Craig Button talking about Mikko Lehtonen.
"I think Mikko's ready to come in and contribute to the Toronto Maple Leafs"— Leafs Lunch (@LeafsLunch1050) October 15, 2020
TSN Director of Scouting @CraigJButton provides an update on #MapleLeafs prospect Mikko Lehtonen and whether he's ready to make the jump to the #NHL next season. pic.twitter.com/1LTleno4cu
Here is Mikko Kokkonen playing on the left side in the Liiga on his team’s second pair.
Interesting second pair! Note that Mikko Kokkonen is on his natural left side this season. https://t.co/07zfC0wItA— Pension Plan Puppets (@PPPLeafs) October 15, 2020
Pontus Holmberg says hi.
Another old prospect says don't you forget about me.— Pension Plan Puppets (@PPPLeafs) October 15, 2020
He's added a second since. https://t.co/mT5IxKXAaG
Jimmy Vesey is going to light his hair on fire.
Jimmy Vesey said last season in BUF was "disappointing in my eyes" and he's eager to correct his game with #Leafs: "I'm going to come out with my hair on fire. I'm excited to get going. It's been a long time since I've played hockey."— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) October 15, 2020
I don’t know what the kids are using these days, but it looks like Mitchell Marner, Morgan Rielly, Auston Matthews, Kyle Dubas, Brendan Shanahan, Lanny McDonald, and Darryl Sittler used some internet invention to talk to each other for our entertainment. PSG with the ICYMI thread.
the stars of the draft are back pic.twitter.com/Hb4TNZ3VNg— Platinum Seat Ghosts (@3rdPeriodSuits) October 15, 2020
the CDC published a report on an outbreak of COVID-19 from a rec hockey game in Florida in June. Daily reminder that a lot of the physical aspects in hockey make it really easy to transmit airborne viruses.
An adult rec hockey game in Tampa in June.— Rick Westhead (@rwesthead) October 15, 2020
The U.S. CDC notes no cloth masks in locker room or on team benches, where players come off ice while still breathing heavily.
Five days after game, 13 players test positive for Covid-19. https://t.co/13Ys3XwZ9r
Matt Martin definitely had seven teams knocking on his door. Mhmm.
Hearing UFA Matt Martin and the #Isles are working towards a new deal. Believe as many as seven teams inquired about Martin when free agency began last week but sounds like he wants to stay on the Island.— Arthur Staple (@StapeAthletic) October 15, 2020