The Toronto Marlies added and then later released a number of training camp invitee players after their recent final pre-season game (including 21 year old Kitchener Ranger Derek Schoenmakers, former Toronto Marlies center Matt Caruana and 22 year old Orlando Solar Bears commit and former University of Maine forward Kyle Beattie) to make room for final roster moves that were later made by the Toronto parent club.
With the Maple Leafs set, the Marlies closed some positional gaps by signing camp invitee forwards Wade MacLeod and Mike Duco, two experienced left wingers to AHL level contracts. They also set about signing prospect tournament invitee and camp standout Zachary Yuen whom head coach Steve Spott appears to be quite impressed with. The final roster was announced earlier today and can be found here:
Congratulations to Trevor Smith who was announced as the newest captain of the Toronto Marlies earlier this week, a phenomenal choice that brings poise, experience and plenty of skill to an otherwise young and impressionable club. The forward core has little in terms of proven AHL scoring experience and it will definitely be a case of scoring by committee this year; although that being said there are possible surprises with the likes Spencer Abbott and Josh Leivo showing signs of potentially being able to eclipse the 20 goal plateau although only time will tell. With that being said here are the 2013 – 2014 Toronto Marlies forwards with rough estimates of the possible line combinations:
The defensive core of the Marlies at first glance could definitely be considered the more experienced side of the roster and although I am sure neither necessarily enjoyed the demotion, the addition of both TJ Brennan and John Michael Liles will have a significant impact on the roster and may indeed assist in producing some much need offense through out the season. The signing of Zachary Yuen will also provide useful as I could see Brennan moving back up to the AHL after Reilly finishes his 9 game audition with the Maple Leafs. (I know I know, want him to stay too but he appears to be having some difficulties so why rush him).
Probably one of the most important elements of the Marlies roster this year will be goaltending. Drew MacIntyre raised plenty of eyebrows within the Maple Leafs management team during training camp this year demonstrating that he was most certainly a cusp NHL player that will offer significant security for the Leafs should one of their goaltenders go down for any length of time. Until he is called upon however, MacIntyre will be given solid reign over the Marlies goaltending and will be called upon day in and day out to shore up the squad as with any young team, mistakes will be made and it will be up to MacIntyre to limit the effect they will most certainly have. Fighting for a secondary role will be both Garret Sparks and Christopher Gibson recent junior graduates whom both showed well in the recent prospect and training camps although I might given Gibson the slight edge. One of these player may very well be loaned to Orlando Solar Bears of the ECHL and recent affiliate team of the Marlies but hopefully the player will see the positive side in the amount of ice time they will most certainly see instead of sitting in the press box game in and game out.
It remains to be seen how closely this young Marlies squad will be able to duplicate the success the club has seen in the past two years but there is definitely plenty of room for not only growth within the rookie ranks (coach included) who will now see a lot more ice time but for more experienced players to establish themselves at this next level. Watch out for both Josh Leivo and Spencer Abbott this year as players to take the next step in their development curve along with Stuart Percy at the back end. Definitely an exciting team to watch this year with plenty to cheer for, hopefully you can head out and make a couple of games! As always, food for thought.