February 25, 2014
TORONTO-With the NHL trade deadline approaching, Marlies head coach Steve Spott has had to put in extra work to keep his players focused.
From now until the Mar. 5 deadline, speculation regarding players being shopped or moved is a certainty. And some players in the Toronto dressing room have already begun to listen in on the early chatter.
“I won’t name who (but) there have been some players that I’ve had to meet with individually about it because once they leave (the arena) they all have player agents to talk to,” said Spott.
While it’s routine for NHL club scouts to be at the Ricoh Coliseum- or any other AHL arena- watching what other teams have to offer, this time of year there are more than normal, which the players notice.
“You definitely hear some of the banter, but all they can do is control their play,” said Spott.
It’s uncertain what the Maple Leafs plan to do with their roster in the next week, especially with a maxed salary cap playing a major factor. But any move made could influence the make-up of the Marlies as they push towards their third straight North Division title.
Last season the Leafs made three minor moves leading up to the deadline and two directly involved the Marlies.
Defenceman Kevin Marshall was acquired from Washington for forward Nicolas Deschamps and forward Ryan Lasch was picked up from Anaheim for forward David Steckel. Both players were added with the AHL post-season in mind.
Unlike last year’s club that was heavy in veterans, Spott’s club is dominated with prospects that could be moved on their own or as part of a bigger package. There are 16 players currently on the roster 23-years-old or younger that may be enticing to other clubs.
“It’s up to the Toronto Maple Leafs or one of the 29 other teams to see if that player is ready to play in the NHL,” said Spott.
“They all have played regularly and had opportunities. If they do get traded, it’s part of the business. If not, then we’ll do our best to get them to Randy (Carlyle) and the Leafs.”
Deals have been made at prior trade deadlines to bolster the Marlies, not just better the Leafs. This season, however, there doesn’t seem to be any reason for the Marlies to add at this point in time.
Forward Brandon Kozun was already acquired to help fill a void in the club’s top-six on Jan. 23. And the recent demotion of Peter Holland solidifies the centre position. Plus, there is still a strong possibility forwards Trevor Smith and Carter Ashton could be sent back down.
“There still could be some movement with our parent club,” said Spott. “Saying that, we’ll have more depth and more bodies. (But) having more magnets on the board is always a positive.”
The Marlies next game is tomorrow when they host the Binghamton Senators.