The Leafs stash their prospects all over the place, junior hockey, college and all over Europe as well. But they also have a bunch of draft picks and signings right in Toronto on the Marlies. We talk about the Marlies as a team all the time, but today I’m going to just look at the prospects on that team.
Included are players on NHL contracts that aren’t or haven’t been regular NHL players. Byron Froese was a close call, but I’m leaving him out for now. His results in the AHL this year are interesting, however, and can teach us something.
The prospects so far this season (Even Strength Points % is the percentage of that player’s points that aren’t on the PP, the PK or into an empty net.):
|Name||Pos||GP||G||A||PTS||PIM||Even Strength Points %||Shots on Goal||SH%|
To add some context, Leipsic is leading the AHL right now, while the team is doing much better at limiting goals against than they are at scoring them.
I included the percentage of points that are not on the power play because the Marlies have a good one, and it might skew some regular point numbers into looking better than they are.
Nielsen, for example, is obviously very good at playing the point on the power play, and he has an excellent shot, but his five-on-five play needs work. He’s not ready for prime time yet.
The top two scorers are a different story. Both Leipsic and Kapanen have a nice mix of points, they both shoot a lot, and they are not just riding puffed up shooting percentages. None of these players have an absurd percentage for the AHL, and Kapanen’s is about the same as his was last year.
These two, in particular, need to show that they can drive the play against the toughest opposition in the AHL, and so far the jury is still out on that. News that the Marlies were dominating the AHL was a little premature. They are currently in eighth place in points percentage.
Beyond the top two wingers, you would be right to ask who else scores for this team. Some of that seeming lack of ability from elsewhere is an illusion. Johnsson has been very effective, playing some of the best five-on-five hockey of his career so far, but he’s just not getting the points yet. Rychel is right in there with a lot of shots and good play as well. Both of these players are likely going to climb the points chart and soon.
Troubling is Gauthier, who looks so much more mobile and active in the play, but even after a long stretch with Kapanen on his wing, there are no points coming.
Also troubling is the lack of scoring from defence. There is no replacement here for T.J. Brennan, not even in aggregate. Of Nielsen’s four goals, two are on the power play.
The most interesting thing revealed, though, might be Timashov’s shots, which is a very high number for the very few games he’s played. He’s been struggling to get ice time, competing with Leivo on his conditioning stint, Milan Michalek and all those other prospects. He looks like he should get more minutes.
About those veterans, though, and I’ll throw Froese in with this group, since he played a full year in the NHL, and I’ll put in the two defenders on NHL contracts as well.
|Name||Pos||GP||G||A||PTS||PIM||Even Strength Points %||SH||SH%|
Froese is third on the Marlies in scoring. And while he’s both riding the only inflated looking shooting percentage on the team and getting good power play time, it’s a good reminder of just what sort of player succeeds in the AHL.
Which makes Michalek, Greening and Laich look a little weak in comparison. They have had a lot less ice time, and don’t play the power play much, but they are scoring at the rate Soshnikov put up while rehabbing a nagging injury.
The goalies in the system are Antoine Bibeau, who has played most of the games for the Marlies, Garret Sparks, and Kasimir Kaskisuo, who is in the ECHL.
Their stats are:
As you can see, Kaskisuo is struggling, and while the team in front of him is not as good as what Bibeau gets, neither is the competition.
At this point, I’m not sure what Sparks would have to do to take the number one spot back. It’s not clear how injured he was, or why he has played so little. Sheldon Keefe does not talk about him like he thinks he is their number one goalie, however.
This is not the same calibre of team as last year, and yet there are some very exciting prospects working hard at development. Kapanen is playing the PK, Rychel, Johnsson and Leipsic are all playing top minutes, and they get to write their own future to some extent. You can’t say they aren’t getting a chance, because they are the backbone of this team. If they make enough noise on the Marlies, they will be in the NHL.