We’re in the dog days of the summer now. College free agent day is a month in one direction and free agent frenzy felt like eons ago. One thing that this newsless time has brought us is a level of calm and stability to the rosters that will allow us to take a look at where everyone stands.
Also, I got this tweet about a week ago and the people get what they want!
@HardevLad As we work our way into the dog days of summer, is there the possibility of putting together an article on potential Marlies lines, depth, and potential?— Sweetwater (@sweetwater_1981) July 9, 2019
For an AHL team like the Toronto Marlies, they tend to have players on their roster that come from all directions. Down from the NHL, up from the ECHL, over from another AHL team, draft and signee prospects from junior, and free agents from Europe. Since it’s hard to organize AHL/ECHL contracts and all that, let’s do it now. Forwards first, then defense and goalies in another article.
(Sorted from oldest to youngest)
Mason Marchment - 24, LW (waivers exempt)
Marchment is the oldest of the bunch I would consider prospects that will play this season on the Marlies. He’s a late bloomer and has all the upside to be an NHL player this season. He doesn’t need waivers to be sent down so he’ll likely be on the Marlies as injury insurance looking for a call-up mid-season.
Adam Brooks - 23, C (waivers exempt)
Brooks is another late bloomer who really found his stride last season as the first line centre while Chris Mueller was out with injury. By the way things are going this season, he’ll likely get the role for the full year, which will be a great indicator of his talent one year out from needing waivers (2020-21).
Pierre Engvall - 23, C/LW (waivers exempt)
I put Engvall in roughly the same situation as Marchment but with different factors pushing and pulling him close to and away from the NHL. Engvall and Marchment both have shown great upside in small spurts during the season. Engvall was pushed into a centre ice role mid season, and while he didn’t look fully comfortable there, he has shown major promise. I wonder what a full summer working on the role has done to him.
Marchment has been flashy and in your face, while Engvall has slowly plodded along and has become a really effective middle-six player. They could both do with a confidence boost in the first half of the season to help propel them into the NHL if spots open up, which will be good for the Marlies because that means they’ll get a couple of really high end players coming their way to help them parse through a part of the season that historically the team has struggled in.
Dmytro Timashov - 22, LW (requires waivers)
Timashov will be 23 years old in October and is in the dreaded middle where he’s not good enough to be in the prospect group above him and not really in the young, developing prospect group below him. He’s a good middle-six forward for the Marlies, and that’s where he’ll likely be all season. One thing I do like about him is that he’s developed more of a checking, grinding style that would prove helpful in the NHL. He just lacks that upside that makes him special enough to graduate the AHL.
Correction: Timashov requires waivers next season. There’s basically no chance he will be claimed so the Leafs should have no problem sending him down.
Egor Korshkov - 22, RW/LW (waivers exempt)
This is going to be the first full season for Korshkov on the Marlies and the first year of a two-year entry-level contract for him. He’ll likely slot right into the top-six and spend the year working on honing his game for the North American pro style. A lot of people brought up his skating as a deficiency, but I disagree with them. I think his problem was more to do with timing and getting the flow right with his teammates. He’s lucky both his linemates from last year (Engvall and Timashov) are still on the Marlies for at least a large portion of the season.
Jeremy Bracco - 22, RW (waivers exempt)
Bracco has a lot to show me this season. He had a great points season for the Marlies, but his ice time was extremely specialized; maximum offense, minimal responsibility to defense. Katya wrote about this ice time and usage thing in a much more eloquent way and I highly recommend reading it. Basically what I want to see from Bracco this year is a more complete game. He needs to show me what he can do without the puck, without offensive zone starts, and most importantly without Chris Mueller.
Aaron Luchuk - 22, C (waivers exempt)
The PPP staff can fully attest to my lack of knowledge on the Cody Ceci for Nikita Zaitsev trade because not only do I not know any of the components of the deal, but I still forget who Aaron Luchuk is. I’m sure I’ll get better as the season goes on. Here’s what we know so far:
Luchuk is a 2015 draft-eligible prospect who passed through the draft a couple times before being picked up by the Ottawa Senators two summers ago. He played in the OHL and was a very good player in that league. In his first pro season last year, he split time between the AHL and ECHL.
Luchuk is in the last season of his ELC and was just traded to the Leafs in a cap dump, so his situation is not dissimilar to that of Eamon McAdam from a season ago. Unfortunately for McAdam, he couldn’t stick in the AHL and ended up being the backup with the Growlers before going unqualified as an RFA with the Leafs this summer. He’s still without a contract.
If Luchuk can stick, he’ll add to a long list of centre prospects the Leafs have cultivated in the last year.
Ilya Mikheyev - 24, LW/RW (waivers exempt)
Mikheyev is the first of three question marks at forward heading into next season. Mikheyev was a good KHL scorer, and Mike Babcock seems to expect to see him in the NHL right at the start of the season. He also has a KHL out clause, so if he ends up on the Marlies, he could very well just leave the organization. On the other hand, we don’t really know his skill level and more often than not, KHL signings don’t stick in the NHL right away. Long story short, the Leafs are probably going to have him on their third line next season.
Frederik Gauthier - 24, C (requires waivers)
Freddy the Goat made the Leafs out of camp simply by default. He was the only option available at centre, and after a surprising start to the season, he tailed off into mediocrity by the end of the year. Gauthier is a good AHLer. That’s where he should be next season. That is, unless the Leafs want a guy who makes less than the league minimum to sit on their roster for a full season.
Garrett Wilson - 28, LW (contract details unknown)
This bit of news broke after I had written this article so I’m just shoving it in here. Wilson has been an AHL leader for the Florida Panthers and Pittsburgh Penguins organizations for the past five years. Most recently, he spent most of the season with the Penguins, splitting time between them and being captain of the WBS Penguins. Katya wrote a more proper article on Wilson that was posted on Saturday if you want to have a look at him.
Kenny Agostino - 27, LW (requires waivers)
My gut tells me Agostino will be in the AHL this season as one of the top-line AHL veterans to augment the bevy of prospects. Why do I think this? Because of the second year of that contract. Most teams don’t want to take on a guy with term on waivers, and having that second year generally deters teams from claiming him at the start of the season. Agostino led the AHL in scoring a few years ago. He’ll be a great addition to the Marlies.
Only one of these players will be on the NHL roster next season (assuming Mitch Marner is on the roster). The other two will either get claimed by another team on waivers or be on the Marlies.
Tanner MacMaster - 23, LW (one-year AHL contract)
Who else is still bitter over the Stefan LeBlanc trade? Just me? Okay then. MacMaster is back for his second season with the Marlies after being traded to the team mid-season by Laurence Gilman. He didn’t exactly do much to generate offense (six points in 26 games) or be a large part of the defensive system (no penalty kill time), so I’m not sure where he fits on this roster. The likely answer is the ECHL.
This seems cold-hearted but it’s a cold-hearted game. There are simply younger prospects with higher upside that need and deserve the ice time over MacMaster.
Riley Woods - 21, C/LW (one-year AHL contract)
Riley Woods is one of the pair of top overagers the Marlies picked up from the CHL last season. The Maple Leafs caught wind of him while scouting draft prospect Filip Kral who also plays on Spokane of the WHL. Woods, an overage centre, scored 75 points in 65 games, and also had back-to-back seasons with a strong playoffs. It’ll be interesting to see where he slots in in the organization, but considering he’s already 21, he should be at the level of playing against AHL talent.
Justin Brazeau - 21, RW (two-year AHL contract)
Brazeau is one of the more exciting Marlies prospects this season. He’s huge, he put up even huger numbers in his overage season with the North Bay Battalion, and he’s a local boy who’s been hyping up his stock well in the media. There’s a lot to like about Brazeau, including his size, tenacity, and shot. He has two years on the Marlies or Growlers to show what he can do to potentially earn himself a contract. Hey, it worked for Marchment, right?
Trey Bradley - 23, LW (one-year AHL contract)
If Brazeau is following in Marchment’s footsteps, Trey Bradley is following in Trevor Moore’s footsteps, albeit as a playmaker. Moore came to the Marlies when he was 23-years-old out of the University of Denver. Bradley the same, but from Colorado College. The two schools mentioned above are very far apart in terms of skill, so maybe we shouldn’t expect Bradley to jump right into a top-six role, but he’s another free wallet that can turn into a pot of gold with some polishing.
Colton Conrad - 22, C/RW (two-year AHL contract)
We already got a taste of Colt Conrad at the end of last season and he definitely impressed in a sample the size of a medium coffee. I like his speed, I like his puck handling, and I like his smarts in transition. He’s going to be heading into the second year of his two-year deal so hopefully he can solidify a middle-six spot and be a real contributor along with the rest of the influx of new blood.
Darren Archibald - 29, LW (one-year AHL contract)
To put it lightly, Archibald is a goon in the AHL and frequently finds himself suspended. Despite that massive unentertaining flaw, Archibald is by all accounts a great teammate. Hence, Gilman felt the need to have him on another one of his teams. He’s a vet, he’ll play in the bottom six and hopefully be a good influence on the locker room.
Rich Clune - 32, LW (two-year AHL contract)
Speaking of all those things, Rich Clune will be returning after signing a two-year deal following Calder Cup triumph in 2018. Welcome back, Dicky.
Growlers on AHL Deals
The following is a list of last year’s Newfoundland Growlers who got an AHL contract extension this summer. We might have missed some of the two-year deals from last summer as well as there will likely be more signings as the summer goes on with this team. As a result, we won’t know for certain what this team will look like until Marlies training camp.
Giorgio Estephan - 22, C (one-year AHL contract)
Marcus Power - 26, C (one-year AHL contract)
Scott Pooley - 25, RW (one-year AHL contract)
Zach O’Brien 27, RW (one-year AHL contract)
Brady Ferguson - 24, C/LW (one-year AHL contract)
Matt Bradley - 22, C (one-year AHL contract)
Of this list, however, I give a good chance to Estephan, Bradley, and Ferguson to get a chance with the Marlies. They’re on the younger side and all three of them show both versatility and talent. I know Sheldon Keefe was very high on Ferguson and preached patience two springs ago. Perhaps this is the fall it all pays off.
If you want all the signings posts in one place, I’ve put them below. All of these articles and more can be found in the Toronto Marlies subsection of the PPP website. Here is a link to that, too. Species, Katya, and I are very diligent about tagging our articles related to the Marlies into there.
I wrote a tweet about the potential lines a couple weeks ago. Here’s a little more of an updated version. Let me know what you think of the combinations in the comments. Safe to say it’s a bit of a younger team this year than year’s past. Average age of that starting twelve is 22.75.
Line 1: Marchment - Brooks - Bracco
Line 2: Timashov - Engvall - Korshkov
Line 3: Agostino - Conrad - Mikheyev
Line 4: Woods - Luchuk - Brazeau
Extras: T. Bradley, Archibald, Clune
Potentially in NHL: Gauthier (he has a low cap hit, that’s pretty much the only reason why)