The NHL trade deadline is like an earthquake that rocks through hockey, and the ripples move through the Marlies and the Solar Bears leaving things knocked over in their wake. It's chaos, but sometimes out of chaos, exciting things are born.
On Saturday, the Marlies played a game short a backup goalie with Garret Sparks up with the Leafs because of the trade of James Reimer. They faced the Rochester Americans, who shouldn't be a tough challenge, but Antoine Bibeau was not having the greatest game of his career.
He started letting in goals; the Marlies offence was full of new guys like Colin Smith and Tobias Lindberg who were just getting a feel for the team and missing their top scoring forward Mark Arcobello. There was no choice for Sheldon Keefe: the zamboni driver was the backup, Bibeau had to stay in.
The Marlies fixed that problem the way they paper over all their problems—they scored their way out of the jam until it was 10-5 and no one could remember Bibeau being bad.
Notable on the day were T.J. Brennan with 2 goals and 3 assists—enough to put him back in third place in AHL scoring, and Smith with 2 goals and 2 assists—enough to endear him to his new team and their fans.
William Nylander, who had a sedate 2 points, is locked in a scoring race with the other fantastic teenage prospect in the AHL, Mikko Rantanen. Rantanen is currently 5th with 47 points, while Nylander has only just jumped over Mark Arcobello into 11th place with 45 points.
The race between the two young future stars has been tight all year—Nylander went out ahead while Rantanen was in the NHL, and then Rantanen caught up while Nylander was out with his injury/illness. They've played 38 and 37 gamed respectively, the least of anyone in the top 10 except of course, Arcobello.
This tortoise and the hare routine is exactly what the pair of them acted out at the AHL All-Star game.
Now they're doing it for real.
Arcobello is up in the NHL and he doesn't care about AHL points anymore. What about Nylander—or Rantanen for that matter—will they stay down?
The way the AHL works is, a guy has to be on the Marlies roster at the point of the trade deadline for him to be eligible for the playoffs down there. And then for the NHL club, they can only call up 4 guys after the deadline is over that aren't emergency callups—guys to replace injured players for example.
Worth remembering: A player must be on an AHL roster at 3 p.m. ET tomorrow to be able to play in that league after.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) 28 February 2016
So the Leafs have some decisions to make, moves to make, players to place here or there to allow them to get a look at the prospects and still keep both teams stocked with players.
Rumours say Nylander is due to be called up after Monday and will stay up. The timing means he can go back and play for the Marlies when the Leafs season is over.
But with trades and injuries, other guys may join him. Byron Froese broke his hand in the Montréal game on Saturday night. Which led to this speculation:
Froese injury might enable Sam Carrick to get back up to the Leafs. Sam has 2 goals since coming back from ankle injury last week.— Paul Hendrick (@HennyTweets) 28 February 2016
Meanwhile, what of the Marlies players currently on the Leafs? Are they going to be sent back to maintain eligibility? Rich Clune spent Saturday on the Marlies even though the Leafs are short healthy forwards right now, and others could join him, at least on paper. Josh Leivo and Brendan Leipsic, almost certainly.
Up/Down: Jared Cowen (D) | Toronto Maple Leafs -> Toronto Marlies | https://t.co/51CNOn08Bf #AHL— EP Transfers (@ep_transfers) 28 February 2016
I can confirm through the AHL, that Colin Greening has indeed joined the Marlies.— Mark R (@MarkUkLeaf) 28 February 2016
There's going to be lots of moving and shaking, so stay tuned and we'll keep you up to date. In the meantime, check out the highlights of the Marlies picking up their goalie and carrying him on their collective backs: