TORONTO– It’s too early to try and piece together what the Toronto Marlies’ roster will look like for the upcoming 2012-13 season, but there have been enough transactions so far this summer to take a quick look at some of differences from last year’s club that won their conference and represented the West in the Calder Cup Finals.
Keeping the focus strictly on Marlies’ players who entered this summer as free agents, this is what has happened.
Leaving Toronto are forwards Marcel Mueller and Phil Dupuis.
While 23-year-old Mueller led all Leafs’ prospects in scoring last season with 14 goals and 47 points in 72 games, he found himself plagued with injuries and was a healthy scratch at times during this year’s playoff run. He recently signed with MoDo of the SEL in Sweden.
Dupuis, who provided a veterans role with the AHL club, disappointed at the NHL level but found his game with the Marlies scoring 15 goals and 31 points in 42 contests. He signed a two-way contract this summer with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Defenceman Juraj Mikus and Drew Paris also chose to say good bye to Toronto by signing contracts overseas.
Mikus, who was drafted in the fifth round by Toronto in 2007, played 200 games with the Marlies over the last three seasons but decided to take his game to the KHL and suit up with HC Leva Prava.
Paris spent majority of his season in the ECHL with the Reading Royals but suited up 10 times with the Marlies before deciding to head to Germany.
Re-signed, for at least one more year with the Marlies, are forwards Greg Scott and Ryan Hamilton, defenceman Simon Gysbers and goaltender Jussi Rynnas.
Last season Scott and Hamilton both scored career high in goals, Scott 21 and Hamilton 25, while Hamilton also made his NHL debut at 27-years-old.
Gysbers re-signed after leading all Marlies’ blue liners in scoring last season with five goals and 29 points in 68 games.
Rynnas managed to score playing time in three different leagues last year, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. He suited up for the Leafs, Marlies and Royals and this year there will be much higher expectations put on him especially if Ben Scrivens moves on from the AHL level.
There are still questions surrounding the status of forwards Mike Zigomanis, Will Acton and Kelsey Wilson, defenceman Mark Fraser, Josh Engel, Andrew Martens and Matt Lashoff and goaltender Ben Scrivens.
Zigomanis, last season’s leading scorer with 61 points in 68 games, is currently an unrestricted free agent and nothing has been said about if he will be returning or not.
Acton played last year on an AHL contract and is hoping to score a NHL two-way deal this season. While nothing about his future has been announced, he has been at the Marlies’ practice facility for off season training.
Wilson was a veteran on a one year contract last year who found himself scratched for much of the post season. It is likely he will not be returning and he hinted he too could be going overseas for next year.
Fraser was a valuable member of the Marlies’ blue line, especially through the playoffs, but would expect a fair chance at an NHL shot. As a restricted free agent, the Leafs still hold his rights so there is a possibility he’s back next season.
Engel has been a utility player for Toronto the last two seasons, playing both forward and defence, but it’s unclear where he fits into the future. He, like Acton, was playing the season on an AHL contract.
Martens was on a one-year deal last season and because he occupies the title of veteran, it is likely he will not be back as Toronto can only have a maximum of six veterans per AHL rules.
Lashoff is coming off a disappointing season that saw him spend more time in rehab than on the ice. Two years ago he was inching towards a spot with the Leafs, however Korbinian Holzer has passed him on the depth chart and makes it unclear as to where he fits in. The 25-year-old is a UFA and may have better luck cracking an NHL roster with another club.
Scrivens was given a qualifying offer by the Leafs, however he still hasn’t re-signed. With all the uncertainty in Toronto’s goal at the NHL level, it’s easy to assume he is waiting to see how everything plays out at the top level.
New to this year’s team will be forward Keith Aucoin and defenceman Mike Kostka.
While Aucoin does have NHL experience, he’s been an AHL force his whole career and will be good for Toronto’s organization. The 33-year-old had 70 points in 43 games last year with the Hershey Bears before getting called up by his parent-club the Washington Capitals. Toronto signed him to a two-way deal and his $350 000 bottom end currently makes him the highest paid player in the AHL. Aucoin being used as a replacement for Zigomanis is a possibility.
Kostka is a veteran defenceman who may be most famous in Toronto for scoring the winning goal for the Norfolk Admirals, in Game 3 of last season’s Calder Cup Final, off a stanchion. He has spent time in the AHL with Norfolk, the San Antonio Rampage, the Portland Pirates and Rochester Americans.
Some other questions to be asked right now are; does defensive prospect Petter Granberg come over from Sweden to play for the Marlies? Does Leo Komarov make the Leafs out of training camp? And what about all the junior graduates, such as Jamie Devane, Greg McKegg, Sam Carrick and Brad Ross, and how do they fill in to next year’s squad.