The Toronto Marlies have both delivered and received a piece of news this morning, finding out that one of their top forwards will be unavailable for selection while bolstering themselves between the pipes ahead of tonight’s game against Utica.
The news most likely to impact the team is the suspension of Miro Aaltonen for his hit on Jayson Megna in the first period of Toronto’s loss to Utica on Wednesday. From the league’s PR department:
The American Hockey League today announced that Toronto Marlies forward Miro Aaltonen has been suspended for two (2) games as a consequence of a boarding incident in a game at Utica on Dec. 20. Aaltonen was suspended under the provisions of AHL Rule 28.1 (supplementary discipline). He will miss Toronto’s games tonight (Dec. 22) at Utica and Tuesday (Dec. 26) vs. Belleville.
That’s a pretty big loss for the Marlies. Aaltonen has really begun to come into form over the past few weeks. After picking up just four points in his first 12 games with the team, the Finn has picked up three goals and nine assists in the 16 games that have followed, including two assists in the game where this hit occurred. As well, this is a team that’s already lost a handful of it’s most dynamic players; Kasperi Kapanen and Martin Marincin are up with the Leafs, Mason Marchment is injured, Timothy Liljegren is with the Swedish World Junior Team and Travis Dermott appears to still be out with an injury. To lose another core piece in the midst of the team’s first losing streak of the year is tough, especially because it will likely mean that someone will have to slide over from the wing into a centre role (most likely one of Colin Greening, Ben Smith, or Jean Dupuy).
As for an opinion on the suspension? It seems a bit strict, but I’d rather the league (and all leagues, really) be too strict on dangerous hits than too lenient. I believe that just a boarding penalty would have been enough here, but if this helps make players second-guess a hit from behind in those areas, then I’m all for that. Aaltonen will return to the Marlies on December 27th, when they take on the Syracuse Crunch.
— Toronto Marlies (@TorontoMarlies) December 22, 2017
Also in Marlies news, the team has signed Drew Fielding to a Professional Tryout. I wouldn’t look too hard into this being a signing of permanence: Fielding has been a backup for the bulk of his ECHL career (including this year, where he’s posted a 0.895 SV% in 8 games), doesn’t fit the prototypical Leafs organization goaltender build (read: He’s 5’10), and at 27, is neither an untapped prospect or a grizzled vet.
If I had to wager, this is a safety measure for tonight’s grudge match against the Comets. Fielding plays for the Adirondack Thunder, who are the closest ECHL team to Utica at about a three-hour drive away. While Garret Sparks and Calvin Pickard have had zero trouble stopping pucks this season, Pickard had an oddly off night on Wednesday and Sparks missed some time earlier in the month with an unspecified lower-body soreness. It’s entirely possible that one of the two is feeling below 100%, so having an emergency option that can make a quick commute and add a local team’s jersey to his collection (Fielding is from Burlington) seems like a safe move to make.
Until further notice, though, I wouldn’t get too excited about seeing him between the pipes.---
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