March 17, 2014
TORONTO- Spencer Abbott has put together a quality season with the Toronto Marlies and has been their best forward on many nights.
But getting an opportunity to see if he can do it with the Maple Leafs, even if he’s earned a shot, seems highly unlikely, according to Marlies head coach Steve Spott.
“He has,” Spott responded when asked if Abbott has done enough to earn another call-up. “But, the problem he has is- Kessel, van Riemsdyk, Lupul- those guys are playing so well it doesn’t allow him to jump into a top-six position.
“He’s not going up there to take Colton Orr’s job. He’s got to stay patient. If he’s going to get called up it’s to play offensively.”
Toronto laid out its development plan for prospects at the beginning of the season- with the goal of each one mastering a specific role that management felt they were best suited for at the NHL level.
Abbott, who made it to pro hockey because of his ability to create offence, would only ever be called up for a top-six spot and not to fill a grinding role in the bottom of the lineup, which is a big reason why he has watched teammates like Troy Bodie or Carter Ashton get the promotion over him on more than one occasion.
“Yeah it’s obviously not something you like, it’s a bit frustrating,” Abbott said about not being summoned by the Leafs despite being the Marlies top point producer. “But I don’t think about it. I just try and produce, play my game.”
Abbott set up two goals on Sunday in a 4-1 win against the Hamilton Bulldogs, giving him 10 points in his last six outings.
The 25-year-old leads the Marlies with 66 points in 57 games, is first in the AHL in assists with 50 and third overall in league scoring.
“I think I’ve had a good season so far, obviously lucky to play with a lot of good players,” said Abbott. “Good line mates create chemistry and that’s how you put up points in this league.”
The Hamilton, Ont. native has spent majority of the season on Toronto’s top line with centre Greg McKegg, and rotating left wingers including Wade MacLeod, Jerry D’Amigo and Josh Leivo.
Abbott has also run the point on the power play alongside T.J. Brennan and has produced nine goals and 31 points while doing so.
“I played point in college for two years, kind of got the hang of it,” said Abbott. “I like it.”
The 5-foot-9, 165-pound winger did earn his first NHL call up back in November and suited up in one game with the Leafs. He played 5:36, mostly on the fourth line in a non-offensive role.
Abbott becomes a restricted free agent at the end of the season and while another shot with the Leafs will likely only be at the expense of Phil Kessel’s health, Abbott hasn’t lost focus with the task at hand with the Marlies.
The club currently leads the North Division standings and hopes to make a post-season push that will be heavily influenced by the play of Abbott.
“I think we’ve played well as a young team. We’ve done well and I’m just trying to focus on the Marlies.”