5 Toronto Marlies that failed to meet expectations this season

The 2021/22 Toronto Marlies season was a disappointing one as the franchise missed the playoffs for the first time in a decade following a heartbreaking loss on the last day of the regular season.
Last week, I looked at the positive side of the season and identified five players that exceeded expectations for the year. You can check that one out here.
Today, though, we’re looking at the other side of things. As the Marlies missed the playoffs, there were players that failed to meet expectations and whose underwhelming performance partially contributed to the early end of the season.
Mikhail Abramov
Making the jump from the junior hockey level to the professional level is a huge step in a player’s career. Sometimes it goes smoothly, other times there is a bigger learning curve than anticipated.
For Mikhail Abramov, his season was much more of the latter. Coming into the season after winning the QMJHL championship in his final year of junior hockey, Abramov was expected to lock down a top nine position down the middle of the ice and provide a spark of offence for the Marlies.
While Abramov did remain in the top nine for a vast majority of the season, it was more so due to the Marlies’ lack of centres when the likes of Adam Brooks, Kirill Semyonov, and Michael Amadio all left the organization early in the season.
Finishing the year with seven goals and 28 points in 66 …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

5 Toronto Marlies that exceeded expectations this season

The 2021/22 Toronto Marlies season was a disappointing one as the franchise missed the playoffs for the first time in a decade following a heartbreaking loss on the last day of the regular season.
Despite the lacklustre team performance, there were still multiple individual performances that saw their stock rise over the course of the season.
In the first of a three-part series reviewing the notable individual performances of the Marlies this past season, today we’ll be taking a look at five players on the Marlies roster that exceeded my pre-season expectations for them during the 2021/22 season.
Curtis Douglas
Coming into this season, no player on an AHL contract was more intriguing than Curtis Douglas.
Standing at 6-foot-9 and 238 pounds, Douglas is enormous. In fact, if he is to ever play an NHL game, he would become the largest forward in league history. Needless to say, with these characteristics, Douglas was an eye-catching signing on a risk-free AHL contract.
Interestingly, Douglas played for the Belleville Senators in 2020/21 with the OHL cancelled and was unable to play in his final year of junior eligibility. He scored only four points in 11 games and at the season’s end, the Marlies came knocking.
My expectation was for Douglas to primarily play as a low event fourth line centre for the Marlies, …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

Marlies prioritize development of players but remain focused on competing for playoffs next season

The Toronto Marlies will begin next year likely the same as they did this season — as a development team with a growing intention of getting to the post-season.
Toronto missed the playoffs this season for the first time since 2010-11, and while many fans might not think that’s good, the Marlies still had a great year.
When looking back, there were a number of players who got their shot to play with the Maple Leafs because of injuries, and a few others received NHL contracts after being signed to AHL deals last summer.
It seemed like there was a lot of displeasure from fans with the way Marlies head coach Greg Moore ran things at the AHL level, whether it be lineup decisions, in-game choices, and at times, just decisions in general. While there might have been more focus on him than some of the players this season, there was still plenty of development from him, too.
“I saw a lot of growth in him (Moore) this season,” said Marlies GM Ryan Hardy on locker cleanout day. “I think a lot of times from an outside observer, you recognize the games and the outcome and everybody wants to make the playoffs, and that’s certainly a part of the job.
“But he …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

A number of Marlies may have played their final games in the Leafs organization

The Marlies’ season came to an end last weekend. It’s a bit disappointing following the number of years that Kyle Dubas and Sheldon Keefe, and even Dallas Eakins before them made the AHL team competitive on the strength of established veterans and a deep prospect pool. Ryan Hardy and Greg Moore have taken a decidedly different approach, and the Marlies have become a development first team and the priority seems to be given to making players ready for their time on the Leafs roster. Arguably this is the right approach, but you’d think a measure of success would still be the team qualifying for the playoffs. They didn’t, but it’s not the end of the world.
With the season coming to an end there is a need to look at the four unrestricted and four restricted free agents that may or may not be part of the Leafs’ organization next season.
The most intriguing name of the group is probably Joseph Duszak. Duszak made the AHL second all-star team, put up 52 points in 61 games, and at 24 seems to be ready to t …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Marlies fall to Belleville and miss the playoffs for first time since 2010-11

The Toronto Marlies season came to an end after they lost 5-2 to the Belleville Senators on Saturday.

Final. #MarliesLive pic.twitter.com/mU9YVv9Lht
— Toronto Marlies (@TorontoMarlies) April 30, 2022

Toronto went down 3-0 early in the game before Josh Ho-Sang got the team on the board just before the second period ended. Nick Robertson scored in the third period, but Belleville added two of their own.
This is the first time since the 2010-11 season that the Marlies haven’t qualified for the Calder Cup playoffs.
With Toronto not making the playoffs, it’s likely that a few of their players will go up to the Maple Leafs. Those players will likely consist of Nick Robertson, Joey Anderson, Alex Steeves, Brett Seney, and possibly Kristians Rubins.
All four of Anderson, Seney, Robertson, and Steeves could all be difference makers for Toronto if they’re needed in the Stanley Cup playoffs, which begin on Monday.
More from TheLeafsNation.com
Maple Leafs patience with Timothy Liljegren paying dividends by Kyle Cushman
How Nick Robertson refined his confidence with the Marlies this season by Nick Barden
The case for Calder: Michael Bunting by Dylan Murphy
POINTSBET IS LIVE IN ONTARIOPointsBet Canada has officially launched in Ontario! Get a $25 free bet just for signing up right here! …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Three Marlies that could help the Maple Leafs in the playoffs

There’s no shortage of Maple Leafs prospects on the Marlies, but which ones can make a difference at the NHL level?
Both teams are in a playoff race of their own with the Leafs looking to secure home-ice advantage in the first round, and the Marlies are looking to secure a playoff spot in general.
As we creep closer and closer to NHL playoffs, there’s a question about who could come up from the Marlies and be used if needed. Now, with the Maple Leafs’ crowded defence core, it pretty much eliminates the chances of Joseph Duszak, Kristians Rubins, or any other defenceman coming up, unless an injury occurs.
It’s a different story with the forward group, though.
There are a number of combinations that you could use on the Maple Leafs’ fourth line and it might be normal to see players like Jason Spezza and Wayne Simmonds come in and out of the lineup. The only mainstay on that line right now is Colin Blackwell, in my opinion, just because of the consistency he brings every night.
Toronto also has Kyle Clifford, but at times, the only thing he brings to the lineup is toughness. And while you’d like that in some instances, you’re going to need goal-scoring too.
So, I thoug …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Breaking down the Toronto Marlies five NCAA free agent signings

Each spring, the Toronto Marlies begin their annual search for free agent players to bring into the organization to fill out their AHL depth and ECHL roster for the following season. Given the organizational stance on development and how to use the minor league affiliates, the Marlies bring in multiple NCAA and CHL free agents every year to fill the aforementioned needs while also bringing in players that have the potential to develop into something more.
Since 2018, three prospects that have signed with the Marlies have later been upgraded to NHL contracts in Kristians Rubins, Pavel Gogolev, and Curtis Douglas. Goaltender Keith Petruzzelli is making a strong case with the Newfoundland Growlers to earn an ELC too, while Bobby McMann remains on an AHL contract but has become a dependable top-nine forward for the Marlies this season.
Though we will have to wait a few more weeks to see what CHL free agents are brought into the organization, GM Ryan Hardy has already been active in the NCAA free agent market, inking five players to 2022/23 AHL contracts.
Marshall Rifai | LD | Harvard (ECAC)
The Marlies first signing for 2022/23 came when they announced the addition of Harvard defenceman Marshall Rifai.
A teammate of Tor …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

WATCH: Maple Leafs’ prospect Max Ellis brings a lot of value to the organization

The Toronto Marlies have been through a lot this season.
Whether it be injuries, call-ups, more injuries — they’ve had a lot of roadblocks to get around. Now, with a healthy Nick Robertson, a rookie-goal race between Bobby McMann and Alex Steeves, plus a few new prospects, the Marlies are looking to prove that they’re a good hockey club during the Calder Cup playoffs.
They’ve also added new prospect Max Ellis, and who knows what might happen with him this season and next.
Enjoy the video!

More from TheLeafsNation.com

Leafs Prospect Roundup: Knies contract watch, Robertson running hot, Leafs sign Ellis & Rindell by Nick Richard

Kerfoot has had a more consistent role this year, but still remains the Leafs’ Swiss Army Knife by Jon Steitzer

Breaking down five of the best goals from Matthews’ historic season with the Maple Leafs by Nick Barden

POINTSBET IS LIVE IN ONTARIOPointsBet Canada has officially launched in Ontario! Get a $25 free bet just for signing up right here!

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Philippe Myers excited for opportunity to play important hockey with the Marlies

The Toronto Marlies lost an important piece when Alex Biega was traded to Nashville, but they later gained it back in a loan move.
Philippe Myers was added onto Toronto’s roster back on March 23rd, two days after the NHL’s trade deadline concluded. It’s the first time in the past three seasons that the 25-year-old was being sent down to the AHL. But looking at this as a demotion wouldn’t be right, as this is an opportunity to prove his worth on a good Marlies team.
“Obviously it’s a good opportunity to get some games in, play lots of minutes, and just try to have fun with it,” said Myers after practice on Friday. “For me, it’s just I haven’t played that many games this year with Nashville, so I’m just trying to get my legs back under me and just find my game again and go from there.”
The 25-year-old has only played seven games with the Marlies but already fills an important role playing key minutes on Toronto’s top pairing. He, and Teemu Kivihalme have been one of the best defence pairs the Marlies have had this season, usually playing against the opposing team’s top lines.
“Myers has come in and stepped up with Kivihalme in being kind of a …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Marlies could end their season with two players etched in the record books and some new goaltenders

The Marlies are having a season to remember, but also one where they’ve battled to be in a playoff spot.
Toronto pretty much has a playoff spot booked, however, now it’s about seeding. The Marlies are battling it out with four other teams (Belleville, Rochester, Laval, and Syracuse) to finish the season in second or third place.
At this moment, Toronto is the fourth seed, meaning that they would play Rochester in the first round in a best-of-three series. I doubt any team wants to be in that series while the rest of the teams watch on.
On one hand, the Marlies are having an incredible season as players like Alex Steeves and Bobby McMann are having incredible years. On the other hand, they’re going to try and push for one of the top spots without any goaltenders that the Maple Leafs or Marlies have under contract.
It began with Keith Petruzzelli, who was experiencing concussion-like symptoms on Tuesday night before their game in Abbotsford. Toronto then went out and signed Talor Joseph to an ATO. Once the Marlies knew Petruzzelli couldn’t go, Michael Hutchinson was set to start the game. That was until Petr Mrazek got injured with t …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation