Today the Maple Leafs have emptied their Taxi Squad into the Marlies roster, and filled it back up with two players who aren’t prospects, but have NHL experience.
Defenceman Martin Marincin and forward Scott Sabourin have been reassigned to the Maple Leafs taxi squad.— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) February 13, 2021
Forward Adam Brooks, forward Nick Robertson and defenceman Rasmus Sandin have been loaned to the @TorontoMarlies.
Marincin and Sabourin
Martin Marincin is our old friend, so you don’t need me to tell you who he is, but Scott Sabourin is a different story.
Sabourin is 28, and a veteran of 35 NHL games and 308 in the AHL. His entire NHL career was last season in Ottawa, where he had six points in those 35 games, and while his reputation in the AHL trends towards “tough guy”, he only had 33 PIM. His average AHL season has about the same points as his NHL season, so he’s not there for his sick hands. He is by all accounts, a good player in the AHL, and has played on some top-ranked teams, which is always a good sign.
He plays wing, and is not even remotely in the class of Wayne Simmonds, even though fans of Simmonds toughness will think the Leafs need to replace that when it’s actually his hockey playing the Leafs are missing.
Nonetheless, as an emergency fourth liner, Sabourin in competent enough. I’d be hard pressed to imagine playing him ahead of Nic Petan or Travis Boyd, unless hard hits were the end goal. But we’ll see if he does more than drive cab on the squad for the next few weeks.
Sandin, Robertson and Brooks
Rasmus Sandin, who played in one token NHL game, needs to be in game action, so seeing him sent to the AHL should not be that much of a surprise. Adam Brooks is also not winning an NHL job ahead of Boyd or Petan, and Nick Robertson on the Marlies is exactly what I expected to see until the OHL season begins. With the need for rehab from injury, the AHL just makes even more sense for him right now.
The OHL is in the planning stages right now, but they hope to have some kind of hub-based season in March or April. At that time, the Leafs will either have to send Robertson to the OHL or promote him to the NHL. The Taxi Squad is not the NHL for these considerations. He would need to be on the 23-man roster.
Robertson officially cleared to play:
Sheldon Keefe says Nick Robertson was cleared to play so was loaned to Marlies— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) February 13, 2021
Joe Thornton not cleared yet, but still trending in the right direction ... Leafs have another practice tomorrow
The Marlies are about to head west to begin their season with four games in five days in Winnipeg against the Moose. Their first game is Monday night, and after they play those four, they have four more in Calgary before the month is over.
The Ontario government gave the Marlies and the Senators permission to play just yesterday, and we know the Belleville Senators will actually play out of the NHL arena in Ottawa. We don’t yet know where the Marlies will play home games.
Over the last few days, the team has been adding to their roster, and today we have several new faces on ATOs to report on. Of note, the goalie Tristan Lennox, who was listed as a member of the team, has vanished. So that plan seems to have fizzled.
The five players added are all OHL players who are ageing out of junior hockey but are undrafted.
Kai Edmonds is a 20-year-old goalie who has played in Barrie and Mississauga in the OHL. The Marlies now have three goalies (with the assumption that Joe Woll is going to be kept with the NHL team for now) and none of them have actual AHL experience. Edmonds was the starter for the Steelheads last year, but certainly didn’t set the world on fire. With a packed schedule in the AHL, he will have to get starts.
James Hardie is just 19, and a LW. He played in the Barrie organization and then in Mississauga in the OHL. His most recent OHL season, saw him put up 63 points in 59 games, and he drew some attention as a potential NHL draft pick. He’s likely the most interesting of the Marlies crop of young tryouts.
Cole MacKay is a 19-year-old winger from the Soo Greyhounds. He had 51 points in 64 games last year, after 61 in 65 the year before. He never got serious draft buzz, but he’s very close to the level of Hardie.
Keegan Stevenson is a centre who just turned 20, and he’s played for the Guelph Storm for three years. You’ll be surprised to hear he played his early years in the Soo Greyhounds organization. He is American, but his father, former NHLer Jeremy Stevenson, grew up in northern Ontario, finishing his own junior career on the Greyhounds. Jeremy was a brawler, and the apple fell a very, very long way from the tree. Keegan Stevenson is the sort of centre who scores about as many goals as he has assists, and he takes as few penalties as possible. If he can translate junior success of about .5 points per game to the AHL in a depth role, he’ll be a great addition to the team.
Zack Trott is a 20-year-old forward who even looks like a zippy little winger in his photographs. He was over a point per game in his final year in the OHL ... guess where, come on, guess... and his points progression shows exactly the sort of thing a smaller player usually experiences in junior hockey. If he played an overage year like Adam Brooks did, he might hit almost two points per game. But will that translate to the pros like it did with Brooks? We’ll see how he does.
All these players are on tryouts, and can be returned to the OHL and/or released to find other pro opportunities if they don’t work out. But the AHL schedule demands a big roster so the opportunities are real.
The full roster is being kept up to date at the Marlies site, and once we get a feel for who is actually playing regularly, we’ll have more to say about the team.