The Toronto Marlies have begun the Conference Finals in fine fashion by defeating the home team, the Oklahoma City Barons, 5-0.
Goals were scored by Marcel Mueller, Nicolas Deschamps, Matt Frattin, Joe Colborne and Jake Gardiner.
The Marlies play an all around solid game led by head coach Dallas Eakins. They have the ability to score, but they pride themselves more on solid two-way play, goaltending and good special teams.
What has that recipe lead to? Three victories away from the Calder Cup Finals, where they will play either the Norfolk Admirals or the St. Johns Ice Caps.
Leaf fans and readers alike will wonder why am I even discussing the Marlies here. The simple answer is to look at the Ottawa Senators and what their farm club, the Binghampton Senators, did last year.
They went all the way to the finals and eventually won it all. The winning experience and playoff run helped the Senators take a huge step forward this season. They managed to make the playoffs and take the New York Rangers to a decisive Game 7 in the Big Apple.
There have been numerous Marlies who have impressed during this playoff run. Here are five players who may have ticketed themselves into the NHL following a wonderful AHL playoff run.
Note: Jake Gardiner, since he was with the Leafs nearly all, year will not be included in this discussion.
With six goals in nine games, Matt Frattin has been one of the more explosive scorers so far in the Calder Cup Playoffs.
In total, he has 20 goals in 32 games with the Marlies. Over the course of a full year, Frattin would've been on pace for a league leading 48 goals in 76 games, easily passing the leader Cory Conacher, who finished with an impressive 39 goals this season in 75 games.
Frattin has been a physical force in the playoffs. With an improved defensive presence, Frattin is showing that his stellar play in college was not a fluke.
Look for Frattin to be in a Leafs uniform next season.
One of the best two-way centers not in the NHL, Mike Zigomanis is a name I've always mentioned when discussing possible call-ups and fixes to the Leafs' roster.
Zigomanis, along with teammate and Captain Ryan Hamilton, are leaders both on and off the ice for the Marlies.
Zigomanis' innate ability to win the big draw, and play in all situations, is what makes him a very valuable piece for the Leafs going forward.
Zigomanis is an unrestricted free agent this year. To be honest, it will be a big mistake if Brian Burke lets him sign elsewhere.
Zigomanis led the Marlies in scoring this season, and his run in the playoffs and his ability to make the big play will land him an NHL contract.
The Leafs gave up on Tim Brent, but lets hope they are not as quick to give up on Zigomanis.
Other than Jake Gardiner, no defenceman has impressed more than the development of rugged defender Korbinian Holzer.
With an NHL-ready slapshot from the point and a calmness with the puck that Luke Schenn would be envious of, the German Holzer is on a fast track to the NHL.
With his play so far, his style is reminiscent to Leafs defender Cody Franson, although some say Holzer is a much better skater.
It took a few years for him to adjust to the speed and small ice of North American Hockey, but it's apparent he's more than ready to be a reliable number five or six defenceman for the Leafs.
Can anyone say bye bye to Mike Komisarek?
Another player who I thought should've been with the Leafs from the start, Nazem Kadri makes another appearance in my farm reports.
Kadri, along with linemates Matt Frattin and Jerry D'Amigo comprise one of the most explosive lines in the entire league. A lot of that has to do with Kadri's ability to feed the puck to the right people at the right times.
Best of all, he is centering this line and doing a fine job at both ends. His ability to create offensive opportunities will be welcomed to a Leafs squad that couldn't seem to generate consistent offence down the stretch.
With 51 points this season in 54 combined playoff and regular season games, Kadri is one of the more NHL-ready players on the Marlies roster.
With an 8-1 playoff record, a 1.43 GAA and a .961 save percentage to go along with two shutouts, Ben Scrivens is the talk of the AHL.
He's easily been the AHL's Playoff MVP this year. If he can keep it up, he could lead the Marlies to their first Calder Cup Finals appearance since the Leafs relocated their farm team from St. John's.
He still has some flaws, such as his penchant for allowing some pretty awful goals. His glove hand is still a bit leaky, but overall, Scrivens is at least ready to become a steady back-up for an NHL starter.
Whether he sticks with the Leafs remains to be seen, as the Leafs are scouring the NHL for a capable NHL starting goaltender.
I doubt Scrivens can do it, but it's fun to speculate anyways.
Jake Gardiner- Has been one of the top AHL defenceman in the playoffs. However, since he was with the Leafs most of the year, I decided to not include him.
Jerry D'Amigo- He's shown flashes of brilliance. He already has an NHL body, but I question whether this is just a one time thing. One more year in the AHL seems likely.
Joe Colborne- The 6'5" center will likely have to endure another year in the minors as he becomes a victim of the numbers game.
Carter Ashton- Injuries aside, Ashton has the potential to be a Dustin Penner-like power forward in the NHL. However, his game needs more polish and another year in the AHL is likely for Ashton.
Ryan Hamilton- An impending free agent, the Leafs will likely re-sign him to a two-way contract, and he will again Captain the Marlies squad. Hamilton will likely be a victim of a numbers game in the Leafs bottom six.
Mark Fraser- The big, physical defender will likely be a victim of depth, but could make an appearance at one point next season.
Matt Lashoff- Again, he's a victim of a numbers game. He may earn a call-up or, who knows, he may break camp as the Leafs seventh defenceman.
Philippe Dupuis- He was a failed experiment in the NHL. However, his steady play has earned him big minutes with Coach Eakins. He's an impending free agent, so look for him to get a contract elsewhere.
Marcel Mueller- The hulking winger will likely need another year of seasoning in the AHL before making an impact with the Leafs. He still needs to work on his skating and finishing abilities before making the NHL.
Nicolas Deschamps- The Leafs are likely grooming Deschamps to be their prototypical third line player. Though good at both ends of the ice, he's a victim of a numbers game. In 40 regular season games, Deschamps exploded for 30 points and a + 7 rating. At the young age of 22, Deschamps is excelling at two-way hockey with Eakins. He'll eventually make it to the NHL, just not next year.