Carl Grundström is back. He had three goals and one assist in six playoff games last year, and here’s hoping he gets a lot more games in this season.
It’s a truism that the Toronto Marlies run an overstuffed roster. While there are no roster limits in the AHL, and the last two seasons on the Marlies have had a lot of extra bodies, this year, the truism isn’t true. For most of the season, the team has been a little on the thin side on depth, particularly forward depth. This got worse, of course, when Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson moved up to the Leafs.
With the spring signing of players on ATOs, that’s changed, and the current roster has ballooned up to around 30 on any given day. There are enough forwards to rest players in the upcoming season-ending three-in-three, which runs this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The Marlies also have nothing to prove as a team. They’ve won the Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy for finishing first in the AHL, and they can’t get any better or worse than that. So, the focus should be on the two-way AHL-contracted players who need to prove themselves at the AHL level, and the free agents on tryouts.
The interesting thing is that the revolving door between Toronto and Orlando has been spinning all season, particularly since January. Everyone, it seems, has been up for a look, sometimes more than once, but often never getting in a game. Hunter Fejes, on an ECHL contract, was up twice on PTOs, and got in four games.
Now, with the Solar Bears ready to face the South Carolina Stingrays in the first round of their playoffs on Thursday, the Solar Bears have announced their playoff roster. Back on their roster is Fejes, as well as Alex Gudbranson and Jean Dupuy, the three most recent visitors to Toronto.
The surprise is that Joshua Winquist, arguably the Solar Bears best forward, and Kristian Pospisil are not there, and are not listed on the eligible list. In the ECHL, if you’re on recall to another team, you can be listed on the playoff roster as eligible to play. They aren’t. They are both on the Marlies roster for the duration.
Winquist was up for a few days in January, but hasn’t played an AHL game. Pospisil is making his first appearance with the team since training camp.
Winquist, a left wing, has 18 goals and 35 assists in 55 games. He’s not a big guy, but he has a PIM count of 65, which would be second place on the Marlies, but isn’t even worth a blink in surprise on the Solar Bears.
Pospisil is a big bodied forward who made an impression as a development camp invitee and got a contract out of it. He’s a centre/right-wing and is seemingly much less of a scoring threat than Winquist. He has 13 goals and 13 assists in 51 games for Orlando. At development camp, he stood out for his total game, particularly his ability to outmuscle the opposition on the boards or to camp in the crease and not be moved. When you add to that a decent ability to actually shoot the puck, he might be seen as a depth Mason Marchment.
With Carl Grundström back, the success of Pierre Engvall, who has to be considered a regular roster player for the playoffs, and the potential of Derian Plouffe, who has been in eight games and performed well, it seems like the Marlies are set, even without the two wingers who are gone for as long as the Leafs playoffs last. (If the Leafs wanted to call up a defenceman in a non-emergency situation, they may send Andreas Johnsson back early, but that seems unlikely.)
At the beginning of the season, we may have expected Martins Dzierkals or JJ Piccinich to be the names joining the Marlies roster right now. But you never know how young players will perform until they’re put to the test. I hope both of these players get in some games this weekend, at least.
Meanwhile, good luck to the Solar Bears in their playoffs.
Edited to add, and thanks to Hockeyguy51, for making me look for this, Jeff King, a right-shooting defender, who has been on loan to Brampton for a while is back on the Marlies roster and the Beast’s season is done. (Habs are bad all the way down.)