TORONTO- When the Toronto Marlies open up the 2013 season, they will look nothing like the club from last year that finished second in the Western Conference.
Many veterans have already moved on and new head coach Steve Spott will be turning the focus of the team towards the youth. The club will no doubt be younger than any team during the Dallas Eakins era. And while it’s too early to predict next season’s roster at this point of the summer, it is worth looking at who is will not to be back and the role they had with the club.
C Mike Zigomanis
Zigomanis signed with the Rochester Americans after four seasons with the Marlies. He played Top-6, both sides of special teams and was a huge part of the club’s success. The 32-year-old will be one of the more difficult players to replace as he was relied on so heavily he would often be double shifted or play full power-plays just for his ability to get puck possession. He produced 156 points in 204 games played.
RW Greg Scott
Scott went from being a fourth-line grinder and penalty killer to a 20-goal scorer during his tenure with the Marlies, but never could round out his game to the point of playing for the Leafs. His work ethic was enough to get noticed by Brynas of the Swedish Hockey League, which is where he will play the 2013 season. Now 25-years-old, the BC native was originally signed as an undrafted free agent from the WHL in 2009 and played 270 games with Toronto.
LW Ryan Hamilton
Hamilton battled major injuries early in his days with the Marlies but, after finally getting his health right, he earned the captaincy and became the clubs all-time leading goal scorer. Last year he scored a career-high 30 goals and won the AHL All-Star game MVP while also getting some minutes with the Leafs. A long road to the NHL, the 28-year-old signed with the Edmonton Oilers in July after five years in the AHL with Toronto.
C Will Acton
Acton spent two seasons with the Marlies on an AHL deal, so when the Oilers offered him his first NHL two-way contract in July, it was an easy choice. The 26-year-old solidified the Marlies Bottom-6 at centre and was the only player besides Zigomanis who was trusted to take defensive-zone face-offs in the playoffs. He was originally signed as a free agent after four seasons at Lake Superior State.
C Tim Connolly
Connolly’s time with the Marlies was short and, unfortunately for him, unproductive. The 31-year-old was demoted after the NHL lockout ended and battled a hip injury almost the entire time he was with the club. He produced only .42 points-per game and had his season end with a 25-game goal drought. He is currently an unrestricted free agent.
RW Ryan Lasch
Lasch signed with Vaxjo Lakers of the Swedish Hockey League in late July after only 11 games with the Marlies. Toronto acquired him in March from the Norfolk Admirals, but he could never make the every day roster. The 26-year-old’s biggest asset was his speed and ability to open up the ice, so heading to Europe seems fit. He also played with Vaxjo during the NHL lockout and with Sodertalje SK in 2010.
D Mike Komisarek
Komisarek was a solid blue liner in his short time with the Marlies, if he wasn’t hurt. A knee injury limited him late in the year, but he made it back for the post-season. His time with the Marlies was meant to give him a second chance after sitting so often with the Leafs, which it seems it did. After having his final season on his contract bought out, he signed with the Carolina Hurricanes in July.
D Mike Mottau
Mottau joined the Marlies after the NHL lockout ended and played 18 games, however a back injury limited him on two separate occasions. When he was healthy enough to rejoin for the post-season, though, Dallas Eakins didn’t hesitate to add another veteran to his blue line. Toronto added Mottau to fill the void left when four Marlies D-Men joined the Leafs in January and he did that well enough to get an offer from the Florida Panthers in July.
D Paul Ranger
Ranger returned to hockey in 2012 after three years away for personal reasons and turned out to be the Marlies best all-round defenceman. He played both sides of special teams, held his teammates accountable and helped in the development of blue-line partner Jesse Blacker. The 28-year-old was approached by the Montreal Canadiens at the NHL trade deadline but told them he wasn’t ready to return to the NHL. This July he traded in his AHL contract and signed a one-way deal with the Leafs.
G Jussi Rynnas
Rynnas spent three seasons with the Marlies, however injuries plagued him and he missed the entire 2012 post-season with an ankle sprain, which gave way to Drew MacIntyre as the outright Number-1. In 73 games with Toronto the 26-year-old went 31-33-5 with a 2.64 goals-against average and .910 save percentage. He was originally signed out of the third division in Finland and will now head back to home to play for Oulun Karpat in the top league.
G Mark Owuya
Owuya showed promise with the Marlies, but early-season struggles in 2012 made him untrustworthy for Eakins. The 23-year-old rarely played and eventually was shipped to the ECHL, where he won a Kelly Cup with the Reading Royals as their back-up. The Leafs did not offer him a contract, so his restricted free agent status was lifted in July making him available to other clubs. The San Jose Sharks showed some interest, however, it seems more possible that he will go back to Sweden.
D Dylan Yeo
Yeo joined the Marlies in 2012 after playing for the Oklahoma City Barons on an AHL contract. Prior to the lockout he was often scratched, however in January he started seeing everyday action. Eakins also liked to use the 27-year-old on forward, which is where he saw most his playing time in the playoffs. He is currently unsigned.
D Simon Gysbers
Gysbers led all Marlies defenceman in scoring in 2010, but last year he saw limited time and was the odd man out throughout the post-season. Originally signed from Lake Superior State in 2009, Gysbers had a two-way deal with the Leafs, but never was part of their future. He is currently unsigned.
D Ryan Grimshaw
Grimshaw was brought in from the ECHL along with Syvret when the team needed depth at D. He suited up 16 times with the Marlies, but a lower-body injury ended his season. He is currently unsigned.
D Corey Syvret
Syvret was brought in after the lockout on a pro-tryout contract to give the Marlies some depth on their blue line. He suited up in just 11 games but earned an AHL deal in March for the remainder of the season. The 24-year-old is currently an unrestricted free agent.