With three of their top nine point producers being called up to the Maple Leafs on a seamingly permanent basis (Kadri, Kostka, Frattin) and one being unfortunately lost to waivers (Aucoin) I won’t lie in saying that I thought the Marlies were going to be in some pretty hot water for the remainder of the season but was glad to see them prove the doubters wrong in the very next game gainst the Hamilton Bulldogs where they came back from a two goal deficit to win handily 4 to 2. Although they have gone 6-8-2 (I believe at the time of this article) since the NHL season began, they are still playing relatively solid hockey and coach Eakins will be attempting to squeeze even more production out of each one of his lines for the remainder of the year.
A number of younger Marlies players have definitely started to benefit from the increased amount of playing time being handed out and from the increased amount of responsibility as more and more AHL rosters are finally settling down with the NHL player assignments being somewhat finalized. There will always be callup’s and in Gardiners case, conditioning stints but this should pretty much be the Marlies roster for the remainder of the season barring any usual issues with the parent club squad or trades being made that involve prospect players.
One such date however that potentially could have a further affect may be April 3rd, NHL trade deadline day this year.
There are rumours that inquiries have been made about Tim Connolly from a couple of teams (and in all honesty why wouldn’t there be? he is still an NHL talent level player) and Jake Gardiner is starting to look more and more like the player he was last year; one could safely assume he will be called up at some point this season. If the Maple Leafs do make a play for a centre such as Stastny to play inbetween Kessel and Lupul/JVR it will almost certainly include one or more of Toronto’s prospects; Colbourne or Ashton perhaps? Not to knock the remaining Marlies players but the majority are rookies or sophmore players still finding their game at the AHL level. Connolly’s trade would most likely involve prospect/picks and there has been rumours that Liles may also be on the trading block given his healthy scratch status as of late and the emergence of Fraser as a reliable NHL defenseman meaning there could be some new faces in the lineup before too long.
All in all the Marlies continue to play solid and respectible hockey night in and night out and kudo’s to not only superb coaching but the example being laid out on the ice in an almost seemingly daily basis by their captain Ryan Hamilton who has since the time of this article notched 25 goals so far this season. Curious to see how things end up but lets hope the moves bolster a Marlies club that has crawled and scratched it’s way into a playoff spot this year and deserve the support after losing so much talent earlier on in the year. Speaking of support, go check them out, you will not be disappointed.