The Newfoundland Growlers have announced their training camp roster today for the 2021-22 season. On it includes a few interesting cuts from the Toronto Marlies camp that has been running for about a week up to this point. Let’s have a look at the initial 22-man roster.

Forwards (14)

AHL contracts: Ryan Chyzowski, Gordie Green, Jeremy McKenna, Bobby McMann, Zach O’Brien, Ty Pelton-Byce, Marcus Power

ECHL contracts: Orrin Centazzo, Marc Johnstone, Nathan Noel, Derian Plouffe, Todd Skirving, Brendan Soucie

Tryouts: Kyle McGrath

Defense (8)

AHL contracts: Noel Hoefenmayer, Brennan Kapcheck, Riley McCourt, Matteo Pietroniro, Tristan Pomerleau

ECHL contracts: Garrett Johnston, James Melindy

Tryouts: Kyle McGrath

Goalies (2)

AHL contracts: Keith Petruzzelli

ECHL contracts: Evan Cormier (newly signed from his Marlies PTO)

Notable Cuts

Jeremy McKenna

I was quite surprised to see Jeremy McKenna not stay on the Marlies roster. He’s from that area in Summerside, PEI, but I really thought he had done enough to earn an AHL job for this season. The Marlies were quietly overhauled over the summer as the team brought in a lot more NHL-contracted talent in to boost up the dismal roster from last year. But despite that overhaul, I thought McKenna had a really good rookie season and would be fighting for a job among the big boys this season. The Marlies were obviously deep at forward this year so I guess they just ran out of spots.

There is a Kyle Dubas silver lining to this demotion as McKenna will be able to play first line minutes for the Growlers and really improve his offensive game rather than hunting for ice time and opportunities on the fourth line. The Leafs were the first to run a three-tier development system so McKenna playing ball in AA doesn’t mean he’s out of hope.

Noel Hoefenmayer

Similar to McKenna, I thought Hoefenmayer separated himself from the bottom pair calibre chuff that was the Marlies defense last season. I would argue he even out-did Kristians Rubins, whom you all know I have a fondness for. Again, maybe this is a chance for big minutes in the ECHL, but I really did think he earned a bigger look. Riley McCourt, too, to a lesser extent.

Unfortunately, the Marlies added Biega, Dahlstrom, Kral, and Menell and a nine-deep defense ballooned up to 12 players and some had to go to the Growlers. That said, where I think Hoefenmayer has a better case than McKenna is when it comes to who is currently on the Marlies roster that I didn’t expect would still be there: Matthew Hellickson. A rookie we saw at development camp scoring some goal from the blueline, I thought he was a shoe-in for Growlers duties in his first season. Maybe he still gets sent down in the next group as the Marlies get to know him more, or maybe he’s jumped Hoefenmayer in camp so far. It’ll be curious to see how this all plays out.

One thing is for certain, the Marlies are a better team this year and that’s good for my mental health if nothing else. Plus, we’re definitely going to see a Growlers win this season! So glad they’re back to playing hockey in the building and city they belong.

Updated Marlies Camp Roster

In no particular order:

Forwards (13)

NHL contracts: Brett Seney, Alex Steeves, Semyon Der-Arguchintsev, Joey Anderson, Pavel Gogolev, Nick Robertson, Mikhail Abramov

AHL contracts: Antti Suomela, Rich Clune, Curtis Douglas, Marc Michaelis, Jack Kopacka, Josh Ho-Sang

Kirill Semyonov and Kurtis Gabriel have not been assigned to the Marlies yet

Defense (8)

NHL contracts: Teemu Kivihalme, Filip Král, Mac Hollowell, Joseph Duszak, Kristiãns Rubīns, Carl Dahlström, Brennan Menell

AHL contracts: Matthew Hellickson

Alex Biega has not been assigned to the Marlies yet

Goalies (2)

NHL contracts: Michael Hutchinson, Erik Källgren

Joseph Woll and Ian Scott are injured and on the Leafs roster as far as we can tell. It’s unclear whether they will be on SOIR (season opening injured reserve) or sent to the Marlies.