Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Marlies to Watch Out For

Alrighty, draft aside it's now time to start looking ahead to the future for the good ol' blue and white. Here goes, in no particular order:

Robbie Earl: This kid has wheels and a nose for the offensive zone. One assist in nine games doesn't look too great on his score sheet, but he created chances every game he was in. He absolutely looked great at the NHL level (though tired after a few games and eventually injured). If he can get over his injury and work hard on his conditioning this summer there's no reason he shouldn't break camp as a third line/energy guy. He was a scoring star in college... don't expect that to transfer over.

Jeremy Williams: Definitely the worst Williams of the Justin/Jason/Jeremy trio (no relation). This kid is a bit of an enigma for Leafs fans. He's got a great, rising shot and a knack for finding scoring position on the ice, something lacking in our forward core. He's also small, defensively terrible and can't really knock around the boards. That spells liability in the big leagues. If his performance is any indication he needs top flight minutes to produce (second and third goals were set up by Mats Sundin, Sebastien Caron had something to do with his first). He'll likely never gain the size or two way ability he'll need to stick with the big club, and Maurice putting him on checking lines was wasteful and harmful to us last season.

John Mitchell: This guy looks like he could be pretty decent someday. Good size, decent shot and passing, decent vision. There's a chance he could make 4th line center next season, though he'll need to work at it. If anything he'll warrant a cup of coffee with the big club at some point.

Staffan Kronwall: Already been called up several times and has been unspectacular but steady. If he could just throw his body around more he'd be valuable as he makes decent passes and has the size he needs, but he seems to shy away from contact and needs work on his timing. He threw some good ones in the playoffs this season, but mentally he probably doesn't have it in him to carry his game up to a higher level. Good to know that we aren't entirely screwed if we need an AHL call-up though.

Alex Foster: Kind of sucks, but he got a call-up at the end of the season. Another 3rd/4th energy guy, he's a little small and needs some work along the boards. Has some offensive skill but nothing to write home about, and probably won't translate it to the NHL level.

Kris Newbury: Should stay the hell in the AHL, where he belongs. He's a scorer/penalty killer by trade, as much as he grinds he's got little place on a checking line with the big club. Still, depending on who we move a slot may be open for him, and he's been a regular filler for the Leafs when they've needed help. Hopefully they'll center him with some Marlies.

Brent Aubin: Once scored 50 goals and over 100 points in the QMJHL! *rolleyes* Another energy guy, he might be worth a cup of coffee and hey, maybe he'll surprise us.

Justin Pogge: Needs to start a full season with the Marlies, and is plagued by consistency issues like a lot of young goalies. If he gets called up (he probably will) he'll either do amazing or get shelled, either way there's no way he should make back-up next year, if only for his own development.

So there we are, a bunch of maybe bottom sixers and a goalie who's not quite ready. Quite a crew, though I'm looking forward to at least a couple playing with the Leafs next season.

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