The biggest news in the NHL these days is the playoffs. The Washington Capitals look like a dominant force in the East, while the Los Angeles Kings managed to stay alive in their series with an overtime victory in game three. No one has been eliminated yet and there have already been many exciting and memorable moments.
There is also news coming in from around the rest of the league, specifically with regards to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Despite not being a playoff team, there is plenty going on with the franchise. They are counting down the days until the draft lottery, which will determine if they select anywhere from first to fourth overall.
They also have some prized prospects who are turning heads at the CHL and AHL level. We’ll take a closer look at them later in the article. If you missed the last edition of Maple Leafs News, it can be found right here.
London Knights Sweeping Through Playoffs
The London Knights have been on an incredible run this season. They aren’t weak in any areas and have legitimate Memorial Cup expectations. Maple Leaf fans will be extremely happy to see that Mitch Marner, who the Leafs drafted fourth overall last year, had another outstanding season, scoring 39 goals and 116 points overall.
The playoffs seem to have brought out the best in Marner, who has an astounding 24 points in ten games. He’s playing like a man possessed and both Knights and Leaf fans couldn’t be happier.
The big decision next year will be where he plays. He’s simply too good for junior, but isn’t eligible to play in the AHL. He could make the jump and play with the Leafs next year and would almost certainly work his way into a spot as part of the young core.
McKenzie on Marner next year: "I see him in the Toronto Maple #Leafs lineup." Adds, "He's too good for junior hockey. He's just too good."
— Chris Nichols (@NicholsOnHockey) April 15, 2016
Another option would be to follow in the footsteps of former teammate, Max Domi. The rookie for the Arizona Coyotes went back to the OHL, had a couple more fantastic seasons and broke into the league this year.
Back to the playoffs. The Knights will be facing a talented Erie Otters squad highlighted by Dylan Strome, Alex DeBrincat and Taylor Raddysh. My colleague, Mark Scheig, wrote an excellent breakdown of this series which can be found here.
Dmytro Timashov Solid With the Cataractes
The word sleeper has been thrown around a lot in regards to Leaf prospect, Dmytro Timashov. Taken last year in the fifth round, 125th overall, Timashov has bloomed into a deadly offensive force. He’s slick, fast, and has a knack for setting up his teammates with perfect passes.
The Cataractes recently defeated the Charlottetown Islanders to move on to the next round of the playoffs. Timashov scored two goals and added an assist in the game six win. He now has 17 points in 11 games and is showing no signs of slowing down.
Marlies Ready For First Round Series
The Toronto Marlies are the toast of the American Hockey League this year. They will be playing the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in round number one. The Marlies had the third best record in AHL history with 114 points and went an incredible 54-16-5-1 through the year.
Marlies finish regular season 54-16-6, ties them for third best record in AHL history.
— Kyle Cicerella (@KyleCicerella) April 17, 2016
The series will start this coming Saturday in Bridgeport. The teams will play the first two games of the series there before finishing with three in Toronto. The odd scheduling has a lot to do with the distance between the two teams, as well as, the rules of the AHL. This will be the first meeting in playoff history between the two clubs.
The Marlies have some serious Calder Cup aspirations. They will be looking to their stars to lead the way through the playoffs. The spotlight will be firmly shone on William Nylander, Nikita Soshnikov and Zach Hyman, as well as, the rest of the Marlies players who gained valuable experience at the NHL level this year.
A good run would really help to raise the profiles of some of the players and it would give them a good chance to get noticed by Leafs management, who are no doubt scouting which of them could make good Maple Leafs to start the 2016-17 season.