More Marlies

Here’s a nice overview of the Toronto club fresh off the presses from d.E.  It’s good to be able to decipher what’s going on out on the ice, and why.  This is really good stuff for the hockey fans–new and old.

But before we get to that, I forgot to mention that Phan Nation members should wear their “Phamily” T-shirts tonight.



Despite using the eye-opening total of 49 different players over the course of the 2014/15 American Hockey League campaign, the Toronto Marlies still managed to finish seventh in the Western Conference and earn a place in the Calder Cup playoffs … (to put things in better perspective, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms iced a total of 36 different players last season). 

The Marlies returned seven of their eight top point-scorers from last season and got off to a fast start in winning four of their first five AHL games this term before falling 4-1 to the Binghamton Senators on Saturday night. It was the second game in upstate New York in as many nights for the traveling Canadian club; on Friday evening, Toronto thoroughly dismantled the Rochester Americans 8-2. Fatigue could be a factor as the Marlies continue their southward journey to eastern Pennsylvania and drop the puck for the third time in as many days.
Only nine players in the entire 30-team AHL had more than the 61 points (21 go, 10 pen, + 24 def in 76 ga) that the small but skillful Connor Brown (5’11” 170 lbs) last season. However, the 6th round pick (# 156 overall) of the Toronto Maple Leafs at the 2012 NHL Draft did not dress for the Toronto Marlies game against the Binghamton Senators in upstate New York on Saturday night. The status of the 21-year-old Brown, who made the AHL’s official All-Rookie team last term, is something for spectators at the PPL Center in downtown Allentown to keep track of late Sunday afternoon. 
The Marlies are certain to be without their leading goal-scorer this fall as Byron Froese (4 ga, 3 go, 0 as, 0 pen, – 1 def) was recalled to the NHL by the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday. The 24-year-old center who was the 4th round pick (# 119 overall) of the Chicago Black Hawks at the 2009 NHL Draft had a breakout season (46 ga, 18 go, 42 pts, 26 pen, + 22 def) for the Marlies at the AHL level after being promoted from the ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones last term. 
The Marlies will most likely have their leading goal-scorer from last season, Matt Frattin (59 ga, 26 go, 48 pts, 26 pen, + 10 def), the 27-year-old right wing from the University of North Dakota who was the 4th round pick (# 99 overall) of the Toronto Maple Leafs at the 2007 NHL Draft.
Speaking of injuries, the Marlies have been without quality stay-at-home defenseman Petter Granberg (53 ga, 1 go, 15 pts, 30 pen, + 14 def in the AHL last term) all season long so far. The 4th round pick (# 116 overall) of the Toronto Maple Leafs at the 2010 NHL Draft who earned a gold medal for Sweden at the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championships and then followed that up with a gold medal for Tre Kronor’s senior national team at the 2013 IIHF World Championships one year later, underwent surgery to repair a torn achilles tendon in June and is still out of commission. Granberg appeared in seven NHL games (0 go, 0 as, 6 pen, – 1 def) for the Toronto Maple Leafs last season before skating with Sweden at the 2015 IIHF World Championships and should be considered a bit of a loss for the Marlies.
The Toronto Marlies lost yet another Swedish defenseman earlier this fall when Tom Nilsson, the 4th round pick (# 100 overall) of the Toronto Maple Leafs at the 2011 NHL Draft who appeared in 44 AHL games (1 go, 6 pts, 26 pen, – 4 def) for the Marlies last term, decided to return to Europe in early October. The 22-year-old blueliner rejoined his old club, HC Vastra Frolunda Gothenburg, and became teammates with former Lehigh Valley Phantoms defender Oliver Lauridsen in the process. Nilsson, of course, had already been teammates with current Lehigh Valley Phantoms rearguard Robert Hagg on the Swedish team which won the silver medal at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championships.
The Toronto Marlies were reinforced earlier this week when defenseman Frank Corrado, the 22-year-old who was the 5th round pick (# 150 overall) of the Vancouver Canucks at the 2011 NHL Draft, was sent down on a conditioning assignment. 
The AHL farm club of the Toronto Maple Leafs have faithfully alternated their two goaltenders so far this season. If this pattern continues, then it will be second-year pro Antoine Bibeau (3 ga, 2.29 avg, .897 svpct) who gets the start against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at the PPL Center in Allentown on Sunday. The 21-year-old was the 6th round pick (# 172 overall) of the Toronto Maple Leafs at the 2013 NHL Draft before serving as the backup netminder for the Toronto Marlies (31 ga, 2.69 avg, .913 svpct) last term. Bibeau (6’2″ 210 lbs) is has good size but is said to need more consistency, if not experience.
The Budding Superstar … # 62 – William NYLANDER
The 1st round pick (# 8 overall) of the Toronto Maple Leafs at the 2014 NHL Draft has quite simply done nothing but rack up points as a teenager for the Marlies at the AHL level (43 ga, 17 go, 38 pts, 4 pen, + 8 def) since first crossing the Atlantic Ocean just a few weeks after the New Year last season. The 19-year-old center, whose father had a lot of success both in the NHL and with Sweden at the international level, was a standout player for Tre Kronor, himself, with three goals and ten points in seven games at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championships last winter and never did return to Swedish elite league club Mo Do Ornskoldsvik, where he was teammates with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms defenseman Hagg two seasons ago. Nylander, who skates very well, has impressive hands and excels at handling puck at high speeds, is the leading scorer for the Marlies this fall with three goals and six points in six AHL games thus far.   
The Highly Touted Prospect … # 42 – Kasperi KAPANEN
The 1st round pick (# 22 overall) of the Pittsburgh Penguins at the 2014 NHL Draft had a spectacular debut at the PPL Center in Allentown as a member of the Wilkes-Barre Scranton AHL club with a goal and an assist during the Baby Pens’ 3-0 victory over the Phantoms last spring. The talented 19-year-old right wing, who father was a long-time NHL and Finland national team player, was a part of the blockbuster deal that saw United States Olympic hero Phil Kessel traded from the Toronto Maple Leafs to the Pittsburgh Penguins at the beginning of last July. Kapanen (5’11” 180 lbs), who had three goals and five points in seven Calder Cup playoff games for Wilkes-Barre Scranton last season, has two goals on seven shots and a defensive rating of + 1 in four AHL games for the Marlies so far this fall.
The Former NHL Regular … # 18 – Richard PANIK
The 2nd round pick (# 52 overall) of the Tampa Bay Lightning at the 2009 NHL Draft was a regular (76 ga, 11 go, 20 pts, 49 pen, – 8 def) for the Toronto Maple Leafs last season after signing as a free agent but failed to make the cut in training camp this time around. The 24-year-old winger with good size (6’1″ 208 lbs) also has terrific speed and great stickhandling skills but could improve his play off the puck on defense. Panik, who has played in 151 NHL games (19 go, 39 pts, 74 pen, – 19 def), also has a good measure of experience having represented Slovakia at four major senior international tournaments (24 ga, 0 go, 2 as) including the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. 
Have Hatchet, Will Travel … # 49 – Justin JOHNSON
The 34-year-old veteran bone breaker was signed the AHL club as a free agent this summer after spending all of last season with the Alaska Aces (45 ga, 3 go, 5 pts, 147 pen, – 6 def) in the East Coast Hockey League. Clearly, the well-traveled right wing’s main purpose in hockey life is best indicated by career statistics showing no less than 1,410 penalty minutes, a – 42 defensive rating and only 32 goals in 390 games at the NHL, AHL and ECHL levels. Perhaps not surprisingly, Johnson (6’1″ 220 lbs) dropped the gloves on his debut for the Toronto Marlies against the Binghamton Senators last night.  
It’s a strong opponent, but this may be a very win-able game, given the circumstances.  In other discussions with d.E. today, it was opined that our young netminder Anthony Stolarz has certainly earned the opportunity to take over the primary, starting goalie responsibilities of this team.  I know it’s a short turnaround from last night, but if he can do it I’d absolutely have him out there later this afternoon.
See you at the arena,

Categories: Kram's Korner - From the Club Level, Phantoms Hockey


3 replies

  1. One thing I meant to point out is that Toronto Marlies winger Casey Bailey (6’1″ 195 lbs) could very well become the first Penn State Nittany Lions player to ever skate at the still relatively new PPL Center in downtown Allentown and that certainly is historic. The 23-year-old native of Anchorage, Alaska, did skate in six NHL games and scored his first goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs after leaving school last spring, but had been a healthy scratch for the Toronto Marlies at the start of this new 2015/16 AHL season. Bailey, who scored 45 goals 96 career NCAA games for a Penn State ice hockey program which made a mighty leap from “club” status to Division I at the start of the 2012/13 campaign, has skated in the Marlies’ last two games and had an assist against the Binghamton Senators on Saturday night.

  2. Impressions Of Lehigh Valley Phantoms vs Toronto Marlies

    # 1 … For all the concern over the number of players that the Lehigh Valley Phantoms are missing at present, the simple fact of the matter is that the Toronto Marlies were without a considerable number of top shelf players at the PPL Center on Sunday. The two highly touted 1st round draft picks, the Swede William Nylander and the Finn Kasperi Kapanen, did not suit up nor did assistant captain T.J. Brennan, the quarterback on the blue line who had 12 goals and 52 points in 73 AHL games last season, or even Swedish defenseman Viktor Loov, the well regarded 22-year-old who had a solid campaign (74 ga, 6 go, 21 pts, 44 pen, + 15 def) for the Marlies in his first full season as a professional last term. Nylander, Kapanen, Brennan and Loov all appeared in the line-up for Toronto against the Binghamton Senators on Saturday night in upstate New York. Given the continued absence of injured Swedish defenseman Petter Granberg and the fact that the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs recalled center Byron Froese on Friday, it is accurate to say that the Toronto Marlies had more to complain about on Sunday than the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in terms of manpower shortages.

    # 2 … Russian import Nikita Soshnikov, the 22-year-old rookie right wing signed from KHL club Atlant Mytishchi by the Toronto Maple Leafs organization this past summer, may have been fortunate to be able to just barely nudge the whole puck over the goal line and give the Marlies a 2-0 lead at the 8:25 mark of the first period. But the fringe national team player left absolutely no doubt in beating Phantoms goaltender Anthony Stolarz to the glove side to notch his second goal only thirteen minutes into the contest. Indeed, Soshnikov was unlucky not to complete the hat trick with the Phantoms net unattended in the closing stages, only being denied by the desperate lunge of Lehigh Valley defenseman Jesper Petterson (who had originally lost the puck at Toronto’s blue line but, to his credit, had managed to race back just in the nick of time) … Soshnikov now has as many goals in the AHL this season (three) as do Nylander and Froese, something which reflects favorably upon overall scoring depth.

    # 3 … After being a healthy scratch against the Binghamton Senators on Saturday night, rookie defenseman Rinat Vailev (6 ga, 0 go, 0 pts, 2 pen, + 5 def) was re-inserted into the Marlies line-up on Sunday afternoon and registered a + 2 defensive rating against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms; the 20-year-old rearguard with good size (6’2″ 208 lbs) was the 3rd round pick (# 68 overall) of the Toronto Maple Leafs at the 2014 NHL Draft and earned a silver medal with Russia at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championships last winter (where he was teammates with the Philadelphia Flyers’ 1st round pick this year, Ivan Provorov) … The Marlies also dressed defenseman James Martin, the 24-year-old who skated in seven AHL games for the Lake Erie Monsters last season but spent most of the 2014/15 campaign in the East Coast Hockey League with the Fort Wayne Komets, for the first time in seven games this season; Martin recorded an assist and posted a + 1 defensive rating against the Phantoms on Sunday … Organizational depth – some teams have it and some teams, well.

    # 4 … The Lehigh Valley Phantoms only generated 22 shots for the entire game and that total was disappointing considering both the Toronto Marlies’ manpower shortages and travel schedule. Perhaps even more frustrating was the number of times that the Phantoms failed to hit the target. On several occasions, Lehigh Valley did well to set up the one-timer but the trigger man did not get all of his shot, so to speak.

    # 5 … Lehigh Valley Phantoms highly touted defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere had four shots on goal against the Toronto Marlies as far as the AHL’s official stat sheet is concerned but the second-year pro out of former NCAA national champion Union College must have also missed the target on an even greater number of blasts from the blue line on Sunday, though. On the positive side of things, Ghost is highly involved and getting his chances. Then again, the Philadelphia Flyers prospect must start getting the puck on net in earnest immediately or it is all for naught.

    # 6 … Lehigh Valley Phantoms pugilist Jay Rosehill has one of his less productive encounters on the old stat sheet, taking two minor penalties while registering a – 2 defensive rating. Fact is, Rosie’s entire line, which includes second-year center Kevin Goumas and third-year right wing Brandon Alderson, was a negative two in the plus/minus department. Both Goumas and Alderson, of course, are recent call-ups from the Reading Royals of the ECHL.

    # 7 … Phantoms rookie fourth line left wing Tyrell Goulbourne absolutely flattened a poor Marlies defenseman while chasing after the puck along the boards in the offensive zone; Goulbourne is one of the Phantoms relatively few number of forwards who weigh in excess of two hundred pounds and the long-term absence of Colin McDonald (6’2″ 214 lbs) does not help matters at all.

    # 8 … Perhaps it is more of a reflection of the Toronto Marlies’ overall strength as a team but the Lehigh Valley Phantoms looked a lot more disorganized at the back and had a lot more trouble transitioning out of the own end on Sunday as compared to Saturday night against the Providence Bruins (granted, a lesser opponent than Toronto according to the AHL standings).

    # 9 … After registering six points in the Phantoms’ first three games this season, veteran free agent signing Chris Conner went pointless in three games with a – 1 defensive rating and just three shots on goal for Lehigh Valley this weekend — the 31-year-old winger out of Michigan Tech, who has a 180 career NHL games under his belt and banks a higher end minor league salary here in the AHL ($ 250,000), is exactly the sort of player that the Phantoms need to record somewhere in the 50-60 points range in order for Lehigh Valley to have a realistic shot at the Calder Cup playoffs.

    # 10 … AHL hockey late Sunday afternoon at the PPL Center is cool, even if kindergartners have an easier time learning the alphabet than the Phantoms apparently have acquiring a result against an obviously depleted as well as tired opponent.

  3. After becoming the very first former Penn State Nittany Lions player to appear in an AHL game at the PPL Center in Allentown this past Sunday, history-making rookie right wing Casey Bailey (3 ga, 0 go, 2 as, 0 pen, – 1 def) was recalled to the NHL by the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday. The Alaska native had an assist for the Toronto Marlies against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Sunday, his second in as many games, and also finished with a + 1 defensive rating. Officially speaking, Bailey had one shot on goal versus the Phantoms; the former Penn State sniper did get some good opportunities in the offensive zone and managed more than a few of his trademark one-timers while down on one knee (a la Brett Hull) but his efforts were either blocked by the defense or missed the net entirely.

    To make room for Bailey on the roster, recently recalled center Byron Froese, who had an unsightly – 3 plus/minus rating on his NHL debut for the Maple Leafs (against the arch-rival Montreal Canadiens, of all teams) last Saturday night, was returned to the AHL’s Toronto Marlies.

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