The Toronto Maple Leafs prospects managed to come away with two overtime wins and one regulation loss against similarly structured rookie teams from the Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburg Penguins and Ottawa Senators organizations recently and although the players had only recently been brought together there was definite evidence that some of the Leafs and Marlies prospects are starting to come into their own.
If case you missed the action here is where you can find some extended video of the highlights of each game. Special thanks to xXxCrosby87Xx on Youtube for uploading the last two highlight packages which are significantly longer than the Game in Six Minute versions available on the Leafs website.
Chicago Blackhawks – September 5th, 2013
Pittsburg Penguins – September 7th, 2013
Ottawa Senators – September 8th, 2013
After the tournament both GM Dave Nonis and Marlies head coach Steve Spott had a number of positive things to say about the tournament and the play of the various prospects. Some sound bites were mentioned about certain players, including but not limited to the following:
“We saw enough in game one” Dave Nonis said of Morgan Reilly “…Morgan did a good job, this is a good tournament for him to come to, it was important for him…”. Nonis went on to indicate they were pleased enough with Morgan’s play that they sat him out for the remaining two games to get a better look at some of the other players.
“He was solid” mentioned Steve Spott when asked about Stuart Percy “…he’s definitely taken advantage of the opportunity this week and as you said I give another strong effort by him”.
“He was good, you know what, a player we didn’t know too much about as a free agent but coming from a good program, his numbers have always been good and I believe was a fourth round pick of the Winnipeg Jets so he comes in here as a free agent took advantage of the opportunities, I thought he was a real solid defenseman for us and the skating is what really stood out for me, he is a really strong skater” indicated Spott when asked about defenseman Zachary Yuen.
Brad Ross aka Rad Boss personally stood out in my mind during the tournament not only in terms of goal scoring ability but he appears to be getting back to his old self, an agitating and gritty in your face kind of player who will chirp you and then score on you his next outing just to rub some further salt into the wound. This bodes well for his upcoming season to make a full time impact with the Marlies with focus on his particular skill set that not only got him to this point but what he excels in.
There are not enough good things can be said about Josh Leivo and his development over the last two years. Multiple sources that counted down the Maple Leafs best prospects to date recently both made note of a marked improvement in Leivo’s play. He has bulked up and has taken considerable strides in his development and it will be very interesting to watch his continued development under Spotts tutelage this year, a coach known for his ability to develop young players. It would not surprise anyone to see him play a large roll in the top six this year.
Although some may disagree with this next statement, I was really surprised to see how well Jamie Devane and Andrew Crescenzi gelled together. Devane, who comes in at 6’5”, 220 lbs showed a noticeable increase in his foot speed while Crescenzi coming in at 6’5”, 208 lbs looked a lot more comfortable in general with his play. Two guys are the very definition of gritty with considerable fore-checking skills and I for one hope they get to play together this year with the Marlies or at the very minimum together in Orlando. Not to say that I don’t believe they can make the Marlies squad but I would rather see them both play more minutes in Orlando working on aggressive fore-checking, the PK etc. as opposed to with the Marlies playing limited minutes stuck with facepunching duties.
With main camp starting today it will definitely be interesting to see how the trickle down effect changes the roster makeup of the Marlies with bubble players like Trevor Smith, Korbinian Holzer and even Mason Raymond if they make the main squad or are reassigned and what that will mean for rookie players looking to make the Marliesr. Any way you look at it, hockey’s back and it will be a very interesting next couple of days. Food for thought!