7 Youngsters Who Could Get Regular Playing Time with the Maple Leafs Next Year

Matthew Sookram@@matthewsookramContributor IIApril 3, 2012

7 Youngsters Who Could Get Regular Playing Time with the Maple Leafs Next Year

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    As the Toronto Maple Leafs start to trade in their hockey skates for their golf shoes, the other city's hockey team is about to enter the playoffs.

    The Toronto Marlies are heading to the playoffs under the guidance of head coach Dallas Eakins. They boast a strong lineup with some potent goal scorers and future NHL hopefuls. Meanwhile, the big brother club, the Maple Leafs, look to be in shambles and fans are asking how the Leafs will right the ship.

    Fans can take some pride in the fact that the younger guns are slowly starting to make their way from Richo Coliseum to the Air Canada Centre. The hope is that once they get to ACC, they can be impact players and stick around for a while.

    Without speculating on moves being made this summer, here are seven youngsters who could get regular time with the Maple Leafs in 2012-2013.

Ryan Hamilton

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    He laced up his skates with the Maple Leafs for two games this season and tallied one assist. Hamilton provided the Marlies with 23 goals this year and 48 points.

    At 27 years old, Hamilton is technically not a youngster, but his lack of NHL experience puts him in this category. He looks like he can be a tough power forward, but he'll need to make an adjustment if he hopes to stick with the big-league club. He may be suited for a third-line role, at best.

Jerry D'Amigo

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    While I think he is still one year away from being a real impact player, D’Amigo could be called up if injuries get to be a huge problem. He has seen his point total increase steadily over the last two years. He gave the Marlies 38 points this year and an impressive plus-14 rating.

    Scouts say he has a lot of upside if he can find a way to use his entire 215-pound frame. Plus, Burke would love to have him on the Leafs, as D’Amigo would add to the ongoing US-born player theme Burke has going.

Carton Ashton

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    After being acquired for Keith Aulie in a deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Leafs fans didn’t know what to expect from Ashton. He has already made his way onto the big-league club and could stay there if his game improves. Scouts thought he was going to break camp with the Lightning earlier this season, so you know that he has potential in that regard.

    He put up 37 total points in his first full season in the AHL. While he has yet to record a point for the Leafs, his time will come. He has been a good two-way player his whole junior career and that is the kind of player new coach Randy Carlyle likes to see.

    Don’t be surprised if Ashton starts out in a Leafs uniform early next year.

Nazem Kadri

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    Fifty-one games in a Maple Leafs uniform and fans are still asking what made him a first-round draft pick.

    Over the past three years, Kadri has bounced up and down between the Leafs and Marlies and while at times he has shown flashes of his talent with the Marlies, it has yet to transpire over a significant time period with the Leafs.

    Kadri has great skills that can shoot him into a top-six role one day, but it hasn’t happened yet. Although he is only 22 years old, most fans believe his time to become a staple with the Leafs is drawing to a close. Kadri will get every opportunity to make it on the team during next year’s training camp and if he has a good showing, he will be on the team.

Joe Colborne

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    Scouts say he has soft hands, good vision and a wicked release. Fans are hoping he can be to the Leafs what Tyler Seguin was to the Bruins. After the Leafs traded their first-round pick in what turned out to be the superstar Seguin, the fans were hoping to get something of value in return somewhere down the line.

    That something may be Colborne.

    Also at 22 years old, Leafs fans are hoping he can make a similar impact soon, like Kadri. Colborne had 37 points with the Marlies this past season and has already seen some playing time with the Maple Leafs. If he continues to improve and makes a big impact at camp as well, he too could find himself in a Leafs jersey next season.

Ben Scrivens or Jussi Rynnas

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    Let’s face it, the Maple Leafs' goaltending situation is going to be question mark until one of two things happen: A) They sign a free agent next year or B) training camp comes and goes and whoever is not injured gets to be on the team.

    As it looks right now, Scrivens or Rynnas could end up with the backup goalie job. This of course depends on who the No. 1 goalie will be, but the Leafs know they do have two budding stars that are looking for a shot to prove themselves on a full-time basis. Both men have seen some playing time this year and while both have struggled, that is expected for two young goalies that have rarely seen NHL shooters up close.

    I can’t say for sure which one, but one of these guys could see some time between the pipes at the ACC next year.