TORONTO– It was almost three weeks ago that the Toronto Marlies started to feel a heavy shuffling of their roster.
First, struggling left-winger Luca Caputi was sent to the Syracuse Crunch (Anaheim affiliate) for Nicolas Deschamps.
Then there were the major additions of Philippe Dupuis, Matt Frattin and Colton Orr from the Leafs.
With the added depth, the Marlies had to decide how to open up some space and the easiest solution was to demote some bodies to the ECHL’s Reading Royals.
Gone to Pennsylvania were Leafs prospects Dale Mitchell, Kenny Ryan and Tyler Brenner.
While playing for the Royals, each have had moderate success.
Mitchell, a third-round pick in 2007, is on his second visit to Reading this season and has 10 goals and 18 points in 17 games.
Originally he was sent down in November after spending five months recovering from knee surgery because he was in need of some conditiong. On January 6th, after two games with the Marlies, he returned to the Royals and scored two goals and two assists, earning the game’s first star in a 9-2 victory against the Chicago Express.
Ryan, the Leafs third selection in 2009, has two goals and seven points in seven games since suiting up with Reading.
Before being re-assigned, Ryan had missed a significant amount of time with a concussion and, between both clubs, has only played 20 games this season. He put together a three-game point streak that included one goal and three assists that was snapped on Saturday. At 20 years old, Ryan is the youngest of the three that were sent down. The Marlies used him mostly on the right-wing, but with the Royals he has had an opportunity to spend some time at his natural position of centre.
Brenner has two goals and six points in seven games but both his goals were game winners, including one in overtime.
At 23, he is the eldest of the three prospects but was never drafted, instead he was signed by Leafs GM Brian Burke nearing the end of last season. He played 21 games with the Marlies prior to being sent down and had just one goal and three points. His minus-7 with Toronto was an eye sore but with Reading he is a plus-4.
While all three are playing well, there is no expectation any of them will return to the Marlies anytime soon. Each needs their time to develop and the most minutes any will see is currently at the ECHL level. Plus, with the Royals two points out of a play-off spot, they may find their role to be of a higher importance down the stretch.
The Marlies seem to be solidified at all four lines and only an injury, or a trade at the upper level, will change what head coach Dallas Eakins is going with.
Worth noting, Jussi Rynnas was sent to Reading on Monday and is expected to get the start tonight when the Royals host the Wheeling Nailers.