Last season the Binghamton Senators of the American Hockey League took home the Calder Cup, and this year, the Ottawa Senators ran with the best in the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Not that the two events are directly related, but it offers a glimmer of hope for the Toronto Maple Leafs and the success of their affiliate, the Marlies.
The Toronto Marlies have been under the radar for the better half of the AHL season as heavy favorites to go the distance in the Calder Cup Playoffs. Now, two games into the semifinals, their even at one game apiece with the Oklahoma City Barons, affiliate to the Edmonton Oilers.
Despite how this series turns out, there’s lots of familiar names to Leafs Nation, and even those outside the Toronto area. And they’re making quite the difference with bench boss Dallas Eakins.
The short list of names — with this year’s NHL and AHL stats — include the following:
- Nazeem Kadri (AHL: 18 G, 22 A; NHL: 5 G, 2 A)
- Matt Frattin (AHL: 14 G, 4 A; NHL: 14 G, 4 A)
- Joe Colborne (AHL: 16 G, 23 A; NHL: 1 G, 4 A)
- Jake Gardiner (AHL Playoffs 2 G, 4 A; NHL: 7 G, 23 A)
- Ben Scrivens (AHL:22-15-1, 2.04 GAA, 9.26 save percentage; NHL: 4-5-2, 3.13 GAA, .902 save percentage)
Expect to see at least two or three of these players back with the Leafs for the majority of next season. And perhaps, rather than picking from the ‘B’ crop of free agents this year, the Leafs should invest in their young talent gaining experience in a playoff atmosphere for next year.
*NOTE: The other semifinals bracket includes Norfolk Admirals
and St. Johns IceCaps,
affiliates to the Tampa Bay Lightning
and Winnipeg Jets,
both franchises, along with the Leafs and Oilers, needing talent wherever they can get it.
Will this year’s Calder Cup championship team materialize a boost in the affiliates’ roster? It happens less than we’d like to assume, but anything’s possible with these teams.
Matthew Wilson is editor of Center Ice Chat. Follow him on Twitter @Mattjw24. Be sure to also Like us on Facebook and to Follow our Tumblr page. If you'd like to contribute, or appear as a guest columnist, please email us at CenterIceChat@gmail.com.