Which Toronto Marlies Should Join the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2014-15?
The Toronto Marlies are in the midst of another deep AHL playoff run this spring. This should only benefit the Toronto Maple Leafs, as the organization's top NHL prospects are getting invaluable experience in one of the better leagues outside of the NHL.
The club has been one of the more successful AHL teams over the past three seasons. A second-round defeat in the 2012-13 playoffs is its worst result in the last three years.
The top NHL clubs are developing players within their farm systems. It takes time to do so, and with the rash of injuries that the Leafs suffered this season, several Marlies made extended appearances with the parent club.
There could be at least three (if not more) roster openings with the Leafs in 2014-15.
Let's take a look at some talented Marlies who may be able to fill these spots next season.
T.J. Brennan, Defenceman
T.J. Brennan was the AHL's best defenceman in 2013-14. The native of Willingboro, New Jersey, had 72 points in 76 games this year.
The 6'1", 213-pound defender also posted 115 penalty minutes in the regular season.
Brennan is the total package in that he doesn't shy away from physical play, and he is a dynamic offensive force from the blue line.
Given the issues that the Leafs had in defending their own zone, it should be a given that he gets a shot at playing in the NHL next season.
The next order of business is for the Leafs to sign Brennan or else he could become an unrestricted free agent. He's a puck-mover with above-average mobility. The Leafs could certainly use those qualities next season.
Peter Holland, Centre
Peter Holland seems poised to join an NHL club on a full-time basis. At 6'2" and 185 pounds, Holland has the physical tools to be a top-nine NHL forward.
Holland is due to become a restricted free agent, and the team needs to sign him to a new deal in the coming months.
The Caledon, Ontario, product had 10 points with the Leafs in 39 games. He matched this point total in just 14 games with the Marlies in 2013-14.
There are some question marks down the middle with the Maple Leafs. Holland could be one piece of the puzzle in 2014-15.
Josh Leivo, Right Wing
Winger Josh Leivo just turned 21 years old, but he could be knocking on the door to be an NHL regular by next fall.
Leivo played seven games with the Maple Leafs in 2013-14 but had a bigger impact with the Marlies.
He had 42 points in 59 AHL games. He also registered a plus-six in those games.
Leivo can be an explosive skater as well as play a heavy game in the offensive zone. His ability to cycle the puck and be a possession player would make him an attractive option for head coach Randy Carlyle.
Leivo may not become more than a third-line NHL player, but that's all the Leafs would need in 2014-15.
Jerry D'Amigo, Left Wing
Jerry D'Amigo has shown glimpses of being a solid NHL player. The former IIHF World Junior Hockey champion had 20 goals with the Marlies in 2013-14.
He also played 22 games with the Leafs this past season. He had minimal effect offensively, but he was not utilized in a scoring role.
D'Amigo is a gifted skater who can create with his speed and skill off the wing. He may not develop into a top-six NHL forward, but he could be a good third-line player in the very near future.
He has the versatility to play on either left or right wing, making him a valuable player.
He is set to become a restricted free agent. Look for the Leafs to lock him up this summer.