Toronto Marlies: The Young Buds Are Looking To Make the Move
The Toronto Marlies are becoming a great development team. They are coached by Dallas Eakins, who spent most of his life playing in the AHL. He also played for the Peterborough Petes for the wonderful coach and mentor Dick Todd.
The team has been both developing and acquiring a tremendous pool of talent. In the days before Brian Burke, the Marlies (and keeping talent) seemed to be a big failing of the club.
Now under the Burke management and the developmental eye of Dallas Eakins, the players are growing and becoming either players or prospects for the NHL.
With this talent pool the players are giving a push to find spots on the Leafs roster. Here are several of my favorite Marlies.
Ben Scrivens: Collegiate Champion
Ben Scrivens is another one of Brian Burke's collegiate acquisitions. If Gus is not super Gus this year, Scrivens is poised to move up to the big club.
Scrivens played junior in Calgary and then went on to college. In his senior year at Cornell he was an All-American and won ECAC (Eastern College Athletic Conference) player of the year. He had a GAA of 1.87 and save percentage of .934. Wow! No wonder the Leafs think he is super duper.
He chose to go to Toronto so he could work with François Allaire.
Ben really looked to be the sharpest of the three goalies (James Reimer and Jonas Gustavsson) during preseason. He played in two games for a total of 63 minutes and only allowed one goal.
Watch out Gus—Ben is right on your tail.
Muhammad Aulie: Floats Like a Butterfly and Stings Like a Bee
Keith "Muhammad" Aulie is a another player from the Western Hockey League. He is a 6'5" defenseman weighing 215 pounds. He is big. And in world of newer bigger faster forwards, you need even bigger and faster defensive players.
Even with Brian Burke trading last year to keep a spot open for Aulie on the big club, with the acquisition of Lilies and Franson, the blue line got very crowded.
Aulie was originally acquired in the Dion Phaneuf trade from Calgary.
Aulie is great at reading plays, has excellent speed for his size, and a huge shot recorded at 95.5 MPH during the AHL skills competition.
He is able to hold his own on the fisticuffs end, easily winning both NHL bouts last year and earning the nickname Muhammad Aulie after Muhammad Ali.
Aulie is an NHL quality defenseman ready for the NHL.
Matt Lashoff: Two-Way Playmaker Ready To Make a Move
Matt Lashoff is a quick two-way defenseman ready to make the move to the NHL. The Toronto Maple Leafs have a great crop of defenseman and without the Lillies and Franson trades, Lashoff would likely be playing with the Leafs currently.
Lashoff came over from the Tampa Bay Lightning in a player grab to increase the skill while lowering the salary cap hit of Toronto's defense core.
I think all of Leafs Nation wondered: Why pick up another defenseman? But this gives the Leafs lots of depth throughout the year to cover for injuries while continuing to develop talent.
Matt is also a musician and released an album earlier this year.
Marcel Mueller: A Full Healthy Year Should Mean a Healthy Career Ahead
Marcel Mueller, while not pushing for a spot on the Leafs this year, is our kind of forward. He would likely be used on the third or fourth line in the years to come. He is able to score goals but he is also a big left winger at 6'4". He has varied from brilliant to average over his time in the AHL.
While he is not next in the depth chart for wingers on the Marlies, he is the kind of player you will see appear next year if he can stay healthy and work on the inconsistencies in his play.
Under Dallas Eakins he should be able to grow and develop into a power winger. He scored 14 goals in 57 games and had 33 points last year with the Marlies. He is also not afraid to throw the body around and make his presence known in front of the net.
If he can develop a mentality to push his way in front of the slot, he could be a Dave Andreychuk-type player using his size to gain position and his skill to bang in rebounds.
We look forward to seeing Marcel soon.
Joe Colborne: Big Center, Big Prospect
Joe Colborne is a big center with great hands that needs to work on his playing consistency. He was acquired from Boston in the Kaberle trade; he is considered a top-six forward in the coming years.
Last year he played 20 games with eight goals and eight assists for a total of 16 points. So far this year he has one goal in one game.
Joe Colborne is 6'5" and 213 lbs. Considered strong up the center with great speed, he was able to power his way through college hockey. Hopefully he can learn to use his size and speed against the bigger, stronger and faster defensemen in the NHL.
Joe is in development but is a strong candidate to make the team in 2012.
Daryl Boyce: A Workaholic
Darryl Boyce is a workaholic and my favourite player on the Marlies.
During his 46 games with the Leafs last year he was a consistent work horse. Often the player willing to work the corners or stand in the slot with grit and tenacity will win the play and the day.
He had five goals and eight assists in 46 Games with the Leafs. But he mostly centered the fourth line and was expected to be in a defensive roll. Boyce finished with a plus-8. Anytime your fourth line guys are finishing with a plus they are getting the job done.
There is so much center depth with the Leafs right now it is hard to see Boyce making it back up early this year. But as versatile and hard working as he is he will be on the short list of people the Leafs can call up to fill a roll at anytime.
Toronto Marlies the Stars of the Future
The Toronto Marlies are a great team with lots of great hockey. I plan to take the kids to several games this year as it is an economical way to see future Leafs and watch future superstars.
It is great to see Brian Burke filling the cabinet with so many talented players.
Dallas Eakins, with his natural teaching ability, is also the right guy for the job to develop the young buds of the big club.
More Team information at www.marlies.ca