Get ready for some serious change to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Each season is given a specific title representing the most popular topic of the campaign. The most accepted title generally concerns the entire league, but each NHL team also has its own topic of interest each season.
With the 2012-2013 campaign fast approaching, some of those topics are beginning to surface. For the Maple Leafs, that would be rookies and sophomores.
The trade of Luke Schenn brought plenty of change to Leaf Nation itself. A new hole was created on defence, a big top-six forward was gained and a player that was once a top-tier prospect in Toronto had departed. It was realized by fans and media almost the second the trade went down that something needed to be done on the back-end. That something was unclear to many at the time and remains that way today.
What people do know is that the Leafs have an abundance of defence prospects who played as members of the AHL’s Toronto Marlies last season. One is Jesse Blacker, who many consider to be NHL-ready after just one full season in the American league.
Then there is Korbinian Holzer. At 24, Holzer just might be ready for a full-time gig with the Maple Leafs. He appeared in two games for the Leafs in 2010-2011 and has since developed further with the Marlies. Holzer is known to be more of a stay-at-home defenceman and will use that characteristic to his advantage while pushing for one of the final spots on the Leafs’ blue line, which remains wide open.
Another young defenceman to watch this coming season, although no longer a rookie, is Jake Gardiner. As everyone knows by now, Gardiner turned heads last season by making the Leafs’ roster out of training camp. He was later named to the NHL All-Rookie Team and many consider him to have already locked down a spot in the Leafs’ lineup this season. Either way you look at it, Gardiner will certainly play a large role in the Leafs’ success in 2012-2013.
Unlike a few potential Leafs, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Blacker, Holzer and Gardiner become key figures on the Leafs’ roster this season. One who would be somewhat surprising to see take over, although it’s not entirely out of the question, is goaltender Ben Scrivens.
Scrivens, 25, had a chance to show the Leafs what he is capable of last season when James Reimer went down. As long as Leafs general manager Brian Burke keeps things status quo and elects not to acquire another netminder prior to the beginning of the season, Scrivens will likely be the one to step in behind Reimer as the backup.
If Reimer falters, surely head coach Randy Carlyle wouldn’t hesitate to go with Scrivens, giving him the chance to shine. Even if Reimer plays well (again, as long as Burke goes with Reimer and Scrivens), the Marlies’ star goalie will get a chance in the big leagues.
Other players that will get shots at the NHL this season include Nazem Kadri, Joe Colborne, Matt Frattin, Leo Komarov and maybe even newly-drafted Morgan Rielly.
Kadri has been back and forth between the Leafs and Marlies for the last two seasons. It’s easy to see how this might have affected the former seventh overall draft pick’s development up to this point, but don’t be surprised to see him get a fair shot under Carlyle this season. “Fair shot” meaning 60-plus games.
Then there is Matt Frattin, who didn’t play terrible with the Leafs last season, but struggled to remain on the team. Just how much he plays with the Leafs this season is up to him; the team knows about his work ethic and is aware of what he can handle. That is, of course, a physical role in the bottom-six.
Another player expected to bring plenty of physicality to Maple Leafs training camp this fall is 2006 sixth round draft pick Leo Komarov, who the Leafs signed to a one-year deal this past May. Many expect him to make the Leafs’ roster out of camp, including Komarov himself.
#Leafs Leo Komarov: "I have a lot of hard work to do, but I think I am ready."
— Terry Koshan (@koshtorontosun) July 2, 2012
If Komarov does suit up for the Maple Leafs this season, whether it be straight out of training camp or at some other point down the road, it is believed that he will play a bottom-six checking role. With that, you can expect to see guys like Mike Brown and David Steckel fighting hard to keep their spots.
Finally there is Morgan Rielly, who the Leafs selected fifth overall last month. To the average fan, the chances of Rielly landing a spot with the big club this season seem to sit around 50 percent. Some claim he is NHL ready, but last season’s knee injury and team history (see: Luke Schenn) are enough for others to send him back to junior for one more season.
Blacker, Holzer, Gardiner, Scrivens, Kadri, Colborne, Frattin, Komarov and Rielly are nine players that hold the status of rookie or sophomore who could make a big impact with the Toronto Maple Leafs this season. Who knows, maybe we’ll even see a surprise like Gardiner again in 2012-2013.
One thing is for sure, 2012-2013 is likely to be the year of rookies and sophomores in Toronto.
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11 thoughts on “Toronto Maple Leafs: 2012-2013 the Year of Rookies and Sophomores?”
get roberto louongo as the leafs main goalie, burke stop being cheap. he is great, if money is the issue the capt dion don’t do much for his money,
Gunnarson – Phaneuf.
Liles – Gardiner.
Komisarek – Holzer.
Those are my pairings as of now. However, it’s hard chose between the six considering the top 4 d are left handed, and my bottom two for them are right handed. I still think if it wasn’t for Gunnarson, Phaneuf would’ve been a mess last season. I also believe Liles’ offensive ability can compliment Gardiner’s style, and let him focus more on his defensive skills (especially with Carlyle as coach). Holzer and Komisarek aren’t top 4 on this roster, so I stuck those two together as of now.
I think Bozak should be given another shot, because there were huge improvments last year, and was the only center who showed chemistry with Lupul and, and Kessel. I think Kadri should be moved by the end of the year, and Colborne should get more time in the minors. Bottom six is still a question mark on the wing with Lombardi and and Connolly under contract, so it’ll take some experimenting between those two and prospects. I thought Van Riemsdyk should be given a bit more of a less role because he’s not accomplished at all as center, so you move him on the second line and out Macarthur on the third.
But is there too much offence on the Liles/Gardiner pairing? You have to wonder if the offensive ability between those two would be too much, get to their heads and result in poor defensive play.
Certainly Bozak deserves a shot, but perhaps as the No. 2 centre behind Grabovski? It’s tough to stick Garbovski in the two hole after he posted 51 points in an abbreviated campaign last season.
It’ll certainly be interesting to see what’s done about Lombardi this season with the Leafs’ adundance of centres. Could be a fun battle to watch between him, Steckel and McClement in training camp this fall.
I feel Grabovski’s and Kulemin’s chemistry was undeniable, and Kulemin’s lower offensive impact last year shows he’s not first line material. Grabovski’s speed and offensive skill, with Van Riemsdyk providing more size in the dirty spots on that line could be the help Kulemin needs. Bozak showed good strides and was not far behind with 47 points. If he can show consistency throughout the year they can win games with him between Lupul and Kessel.
In my mind, Gardiner showed hints of good defensive skill with his anticipation and puck control. I think Liles is a more calming presence than Komisarek and Holzer, for Gardiner. Komisarek has similarities like Phaneuf and wanders out of position when trying to become a physical presence, and Holzer is a fresh into the league, so we’ll have to wait and see how he adapts to the higher level.
These are just my lines for now, but I think they may be able to ship off a few other players to enhance their grit and defensive abilities in all areas for Carlyle’s needs. McClement and Holzer re-sign were a good start, but I don’t think Lombardi and Connolly are enough to make the top 8 next year, and at least 1 of them will have to be shipped off with another piece (prospects, or lower draft picks) to bring in more role players; players like Joel Ward, Steve Ott, Gregory Cambell.
Nicely put Lukas. Seems to be quite a bit of hype around D’Amigo too. If he could put it together, he may also eventually get a bottom 6 shot.
Certainly, although the hype seems to have toned down a bit. Still a nice prospect – 41 points and a plus-13 rating in his first full season with the Marlies.
Guess is not an option…
On the Facebook group.
do you mean here (the facebook group) or on the actual post?
Where is the share button? Apologies if this has already been asked.
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