Leafs Prospect Roundup: Marlies final stretch, OHL and Growlers playoffs

It’s time for a playoff heavy edition of the Toronto Maple Leafs prospect roundup! Just as the Leafs are in their final week of the season, the Marlies enter a huge week with their playoff lives on the line, plus updates from the OHL and ECHL after the first week of their respective postseasons.
Let’s get right into things!
Toronto Marlies
It’s crunch time for the Maple Leafs’ AHL affiliate.
The Marlies went 1-2-0 last week with two heartbreaking one-goal losses to division rivals in the Belleville Senators. Thanks to Rochester’s own struggles (0-2-2 last week), the Marlies remain fifth in the North Division standings and in a playoff spot for the time being.

“The results are very tough to swallow right now.”
Hear from Joseph Duszak and Greg Moore in Wednesday’s postgame media mash. #MarliesLive pic.twitter.com/okdQWSTEmq
— Toronto Marlies (@TorontoMarlies) April 21, 2022

Rochester has one game remaining in their regular season, a home game against the North Division’s top squad, the Utica Comets. A win would put the Americans ahead of Toronto for the final playoff spot in the North Division, but it isn’t quite that straightforward. As the Marlies and Americans have different lengths of schedule this year, seeding is based on points percentage.
Currently, the Marlies sit at .551, with the Americans behind at .547. The Marlies, though, have three games remaining away at Laval (twice) and finishing the year in Belleville. With this format, Rochester could lose on Friday and still beat the Marlies for the final playoff spot if the Marlies fail to record two points out of the three games.
Here are the remaining scenarios for the Marlies:
6/6 points = Clinch
5/6 points = Clinch
4/6 points = Clinch
3/6 points = Clinch with Rochester loss (any fashion …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

Random MLB Thoughts: Miggy has 3,000 hits, Surpises, Blue Jays thoughts and more!

Welcome to the first edition of my Random MLB thoughts, a look at happenings around the league, as well as some additional Blue Jays thoughts.

Miguel Cabrera has 3,000 hits:
On Saturday, Miguel Cabrera became only the 33rd player to reach the 3,000 hit mark. Last season, Miguel hit his 500th homer against the Blue Jays on August 22. He now joins an elite group of six other players who have hit 500 home runs while recording 3,000 hits.

One of 33 players with 3,000 hits.
Congrats, @MiguelCabrera! pic.twitter.com/0oWJHvmQ6A
— MLB (@MLB) April 23, 2022

Cabrera, 39, has one more guaranteed season after this one left on his contract worth an annual average of $30 million. However, he and the Tigers have a mutual option for 2024 and 2025, meaning that the eventual Hall of Famer could play until he’s at least 42.
He won a batting triple crown in 2012, the first to do so since Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski (also part of the 3K hits club) did it in 1967. No one has done it since. Not just that, but Miggy has a World Series to his name, winning it with the Florida Marlins in 2003.
He is all but a guaranteed Hall of Famer, maybe even unanimously, as having over 3,000 hits means you’re basically a lock. There are only six other 3,000 hit club members that aren’t in the Hall of Fame.
One of those players, Albert Pujols, is the only other player that is still actively playing. Both Ichiro Suzuki and Adrian Beltre won’t be eligible to join the HOF for another few years.
That leaves just Pete Rose, Alex Rodriguez and Rafael Palmeiro as the only three players that are eligible for the Hall, but haven’t been voted in. Both Rodriguez and Palmeiro tested positive for steroids in their career.
Pete Rose, who should 100% be in the Hall of Fame, allegedl …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Leafs Prospect Roundup: Knies returning to college, OHL regular season concludes, Growlers set to finally defend 2019 championship

It’s time for another edition of the Toronto Maple Leafs prospect roundup! Now into the back half of April, even more prospects are approaching their playoffs and a couple of others have been eliminated over the past week.
There’s quite a bit to get to this week, so let’s not waste any time and dive right into things.
Matt Knies | LW | Minnesota (Big Ten)
We’ll have to wait at least one more year to see Matt Knies make the jump to the professional ranks. On Thursday night, Knies and the Maple Leafs confirmed that he will not be signing his entry-level contract and is returning to the University of Minnesota for his sophomore season.

Matthew Knies has informed TOR he will return to Minnesota next season. Unfinished business, chance to win it all with the Gophers.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) April 14, 2022

The Knies discussion has been discussed ad nauseam, so I’ll keep things relatively brief. In last week’s roundup, Nick Richard summarized Knies’ season and his then-upcoming decision nicely.
Expectations for Knies got out of hand quickly. Realistically, Knies was debating between being a depth option for the Leafs in the short term and likely playing most of 2022/23 with the Marlies versus the merits of returning to college and turning pro at the end of the 2022/23 NCAA season. It’s easy to forget that less than a year ago, Knies was a late second-round pick out of the USHL. He has less than 40 games of NCAA experience under his belt. Returning to the NCAA is the safest decision for his development and arguably the best option he had as well.
For me, I think what Knies decided is best as well. He gets to return to Minnesota and be a leader on a team that will again challenge for the national c …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

Friedman: Rodion Amirov continues to skate with his next round of chemotherapy upcoming

During Saturday night’s edition of 32 Thoughts, Elliotte Friedman provided an update on how Rodion Amriov is doing after being diagnosed with a brain tumour. It’s safe to say the Russian forward is making great strides in his recuperation

Elliotte Friedman provides an update on Rodion Amirov pic.twitter.com/3D1xsWASC4
— alberto (@twistedleafs) April 3, 2022

Friedman reported that Amriov has wrapped up his six weeks of chemotherapy and has another round forthcoming in a month’s time. During that time, he has been on the ice three times a week at a rink the Leafs have rented out for him in Dusseldorf, Germany and in the gym five times a week.
This positive development comes a little over a month after the report first came out that Amirov was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Not only has his recovery gone well to this point, but he also continues to work out and skate when given the chance. It says a lot about how well run the Leafs organization is that they are spending part of their income to ensure that the 15th overall pick of the 2020 draft gets all the help and resources he needs while he recovers.
All the best to Amirove for his next round of chemotherapy! …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

Marlies Mailbag: Josh Ho-Sang returns, Dmitry Ovchinnikov, and the evolution of Bobby McMann

Marlies Mailbag: Josh Ho-Sang returns, Dmitry Ovchinnikov, and the evolution of Bobby McMann

Welcome to another edition of the Marlies Mailbag!
A lot has happened since I wrote the last mailbag. Dmitry Ovchinnikov joined the Marlies, Josh Ho-Sang returned to Toronto from the Olympics with Team Canada, Erik Källgren received a call-up to the Maple Leafs, and much more!
The Marlies most recently defeated the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 6-1 on Wednesday night. With that win, Toronto’s magic number to get into the playoffs is 33 points.
It’s a very tight race between the five of Toronto, Laval, Rochester, Syracuse, and Belleville. Each team has almost an identical winning percentage which makes these last 17 games vital for points.
In today’s mailbag, we’ll be discussing Ho-Sang’s return from the lineup after missing six games, Ovchinnikov joining the team, and the evolution of Bobby McMann throughout this season.
So, without wasting anymore of your time, let’s get started!

Any more word on what’s happening with Josh Ho-Sang? Expected him to get a contract after the Olympics but have hardly heard his name since
— Jack (@Azekial1168) March 23, 2022

While the Marlies were on a two game road-trip throughout New York at the beginning of March, there was a bug going through the team. I’m not too sure what it was, but what I do know that it was non-COVID related.
Ho-Sang missed those two games with the illness, and it likely hit him so hard that it took four more games to get back up to speed.
On Wednesday night, Ho-Sang returned to the Marlies lineup for the first time in six games. He was placed on a line with Nick Robertson and Antti Suomela (at the beginning o …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Leafs Prospect Roundup Trade Deadline Special: Rumours and NCAA updates

It’s a special Sunday edition of the Toronto Maple Leafs prospect roundup as we are just one day away from the trade deadline. Over the past week, there have been numerous rumours and rumblings involving various Leafs prospects in addition to what is a busy time of the year on the ice.
With so much to get to in today’s roundup, let’s just get right into things.
The Rumour Mill
Most trade deadline coverage for the Leafs revolves around the potential incoming players to help bolster the roster for the playoffs, but here on the prospect roundup, we look at the other side.
It has been repeatedly said that GM Kyle Dubas does not want to trade Toronto’s first-round pick this year OR their top prospects. It has been suggested that this group would include Nicholas Robertson, Topi Niemela, and Matt Knies, with Harvard standout Nick Abruzzese potentially in that group as well.
So far, we’ve seen high prices for deadline pieces, with the likes of Brandon Hagel and Hampus Lindholm costing multiple assets. If Dubas wants to land a big fish, he may have to pony up that coveted first-round pick.
I will say that if Dubas were to move one of the aforementioned assets, …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

Leafs Prospect Roundup: Nick Robertson on the board, Curtis Douglas’ big game, Pavel Gogolev demoted

Welcome to another edition of the Toronto Maple Leafs prospect roundup here on The Leafs Nation!
We’re getting closer and closer to playoff action for many different Leafs prospects, including those in European leagues, the NCAA, and even the Canadian junior ranks. But in today’s roundup, we’ll be mainly focusing on a couple of noteworthy stories from the past week.
Nick Robertson | LW | Maple Leafs (NHL)
There’s no other way we can kick off this week’s roundup other than with Nicholas Robertson.
After a frustrating first two games in which he saw few shifts on the fourth line, Robertson finally received over 10 minutes of ice-time on Wednesday before being promoted to the second line alongside John Tavares and William Nylander in Toronto’s most recent game on Saturday night. He wasted little time making an impact on there, scoring his first career (regular season) goal early in the second period.

HIS FIRST CAREER (REGULAR SEASON) GOAL! #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/ZeuZFfuXEB
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) March 6, 2022

 
For much of the season, Toronto’s second line has been up against weaker competition but has not dominated in the way they are expected to. Earlier in the year, they were propped up by Alexander Kerfoot’s remarkably high on-ice shooting percentage, but as you would anticipate, that has cooled off as the season has gone along. Prior to Robertson’s debut on the line, the Kerfoot-Tavares-Nylander trio has felt stale and in need of a boost.
That’s exactly why the Leafs decided to put Robertson in that spot on Saturday. Not far out from the trade deadline and with minimal cap space if Jake Muzzin is to return in the regular-season, the Leafs need to test any and all in-house options to see where they should spend their assets. I felt it was still early for Robertson to come back up to the NHL level, especially with only a few games under his belt returning from a significant leg injury, but the Leafs clearly feel …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

Leafs Prospect Roundup: Dmitry Ovchinnikov signs, Nick Robertson finding form, quotes from Kyle Dubas presser

It’s time for another edition of the Toronto Maple Leafs prospect roundup, this time with a new prospect unexpectedly signing their entry-level contract, a final recap from the Olympics, and comments from GM Kyle Dubas from over the weekend.
Before we dive into this week’s roundup, I will be doing the first TLN prospect mailbag of the year with fellow prospect aficionado Nick Richard later this week! Be sure to submit your questions by commenting on this week’s roundup or sending them in over on Twitter. From Nick Robertson to Nikolai Chebykin, I’m looking forward to answering your questions alongside Nick later this week.
Without further adieu, let’s get into the week that was in the Leafs system.
Dmitry Ovchinnikov | C/RW | Toronto Marlies (AHL)
2020 fifth-round draft pick Dmitry Ovchinnikov signed his three-year entry-level contract with the Maple Leafs on Friday morning. The contract begins immediately and he will join the Marlies upon finalizing the legalities for him to enter Canada.
It was an unexpected announcement, to say the least. Ovchinnikov had signed an extension with his KHL team, Sibir Novosibirsk prior to the 2021/22 season that should have kept him in Russia through at least 2022/23. Early on Friday morning, it was announced on the KHL site that Sibir had terminated Ovchinniko …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

Marlies Mailbag: What’s going on with Pavel Gogolev?

Marlies Mailbag: What’s going on with Pavel Gogolev?

Welcome back to another edition of the Toronto Marlies mailbag!
This month, I go over the Marlies season so far, who’s stood out during their latest stretch, and who the Maple Leafs could look at signing ahead of the NHL trade deadline.
With the addition of Nick Ritchie as of late, Toronto seems like a team that will be tough to beat in the next month and even further into the future.
But instead of rambling on, though, let’s get into the mailbag!
 

Is Blandisi on an AHL contract now, as opposed to a PTO? Is Krys in the plans for next year and beyond?
— Patrick Connors (@81912CON) February 16, 2022

As of right now, Joseph Blandisi is still on a PTO to my knowledge.
Joining the Marlies back in December, the 27-year-old was just happy to be back playing hockey. During his first scrum, he said how happy he was to be playing in the blue and white, something the Markham, Ontario native dreamt of for a long time.
Blandisi has been a leader, but also a point producer, putting up 15 points in the 16 games he’s played in this season with the Marlies. He’s done so well that he’s even been in conversation to be one of the Maple Leafs late signings ahead of the trade deadline.
In terms of Chad Krys, I would think he’s in their long-term plans. He’s in the same position as Gogolev, where there’s so many good defenceman that it’s just difficult to get into the lineup.
He’s an RFA after this season, but I think him returning depends on who else …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Marlies Mailbag: Erik Källgren’s NHL future, Nick Robertson’s return, and the emergence of Bobby McMann

Welcome to another edition of the Toronto Marlies Mailbag!
Looking back at the Marlies season before the break, things didn’t feel right. This team, although with a few injuries, was entering this season with a lot of excitement around them. Toronto was 10-9-1-1 prior to the COVID pause, which saw 24 players get the virus.
Now they’re back, and the team looks different.
What I mean by that is the Marlies look like the team they were supposed to be at the start of the season. Why they look like that now is another question.
“Just that they’re working really hard towards getting better every day,” said Marlies head coach, Greg Moore, on what’s stood out about the team most since the COVID pause. “You’ve seen it in the gameplay trending that way. Their preparation and routine before games and in practice is getting stronger and more consistent, and it’s turning into what we’re seeing in the games. And in return, you’re seeing more confident puck play because of these routines that the guys are building off themselves.”
Since returning from the break, the Marlies are 3-1, most recently beating Utica, the AHL’s best team. It was only the …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation