Tonight, the Toronto Marlies will play their tenth game of the 2018/19 regular season, as they take on the Cleveland Monsters at Quicken Loans Arena. Not only does that put them into double-digit territory, but it also kicks off one of their two traditional multi-week road trips of the season.

Why exactly do the Marlies evacuate their rink at the end of October, only to re-appear in the final days of the following month? As it turns out, Coca-Cola Coliseum is still City of Toronto property and part of the CNE. This means that when the Royal Winter Fair comes around, they get to use the rink for the multi-week event – usually replacing the ice with dirt and the Marlies with horses. As such, the Marlies use the time to knock a bunch of games off their road schedule.

This year, the break is easier than its ever been; tomorrow’s game in Cleveland, three games in Belleville, and one in Laval before returning home on the 17th. The chain of bus rides has been cut down severely, the total games have dropped from 8-9 to just five, and the team will most likely be able to spend most of their next 17 days in their own homes.

All the same, it’s still traditionally a bookmarking point in the season, so it’s worth looking at where they stand up to this point.

Heading into tonight, Toronto carries a 4-4-0-1 record, good for fourth in the North Division by points and a tie for third in points percentage. The great thing about this trip is that it’ll allow them to pick up some ground; three games against Belleville give them the chance to leapfrog them, and a four-point gap between themselves and Cleveland can be shrunk before the weekend hits.

Toronto achieved its record in a way it likely could have preferred to avoid; after a 7-3 season opener against Utica on October 5th, the team dropped the next five games against Binghamton, Cleveland, Rochester, and two more against the Comets. Since then, though, the team has caught a grip, winning their last three games by a combined score of 9-4.

Part of that comes from a steadying of goaltending, which as you can see above, has been a concern. Their full-season save percentage of 0.882 was even worse two and a half weeks ago and is still way below what they’d like it to be (by comparison, last year’s team got a historical 0.929 effort out of Garret Sparks and Calvin Pickard). Jeff Glass has started to settle in, and the team has in front of him as well. Limiting volume against is likely a goal, but I doubt they’ll want to change much on the other side of the ice; the team is near the top of the league in goal and shot generation, even as the Leafs have taken away quite a few of the team’s top ice-tilters both up front (Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, Frederik Gauthier), and on the Blue Line (Travis Dermott, Martin Marincin and Justin Holl).

Speaking of tilting the ice, Toronto has done that in a way that you’d expect a progressively-run, modern AHL team to do. Through the nine games, the Marlies have posted a 54.8% Corsi-For Percentage, attempting 401 shots in 5-on-5 situations while conceding 331. Unfortunately, I don’t have a reference point for where that stands with the rest of the league, as I’m tracking that data myself, but from a general standpoint, 55% is a very good mark for a team to be standing at. Notably, it’s not just a matter of score effects; the team took 60.2% of the shot attempts over their three-game winning streak over Hartford, Laval, and Syracuse.

Toronto’s efforts stretch beyond just the total package, though. There are a bevvy of players, all simultaneously working towards many goals. Not only are they trying to win hockey games, but they’re also trying to improve themselves and win the eyes of the league above, as they chase dreams of making to, or returning to, the National Hockey League. Some pathways are different than others, involve more stops on the journey, or more elements to to be taught. Here is an update on where everyone stands in the early goings of this season:

A Glossary

On top of basic metrics and general observations, the below will use the data that I’ve been counting over the course of the season. As a lone individual doing this in hobby time, and one still getting a feel for the best way to collect data on the fly, the information here isn’t as in-depth as you would have at say, the NHL level. I’d like to add more elements to the system over time, depending on how well I can streamline the process and if I can free up more time for multiple laps through games.

If this extra layer of data, which the public has never had access to at the AHL level in most markets, is of interest to you, I would encourage you to support my work by subscribing to The Faceoff Circle or making a one-off donation to the site. Time is money, and if I can afford to invest more time and resources into making this ongoing project more in depth, I will.

For those of you who haven’t seen my tracked work before, or are unfamiliar with advanced metrics, here’s a quick glossary of terms, and explanations of formulas that I am using modified forms of:

  • Corsi: A community term for Shot Attempts. A shot attempt is any shot that is either on goal, missed, or blocked. Shot attempts are used instead of shots on goal to give us a bigger body of information to work with, and because they still involve the same elements that we’re looking for (goaltender movement, players believing themselves to be in shooting position, etc). My Marlies work will mostly be using Corsi in its most popular method, to get an approximation for game flow.
  • Corsi For Percentage (CF%): The percentage of shot attempts that the player is on the ice for that are taken by the player’s team. For example, if the Marlies attempt 6 shots while the player is on the ice, but concede 4 shot attempts, the player has a CF% of 60%. By and large, citied percentages will be in 5-on-5 situations.
  • Team-Relative Corsi (CF% Rel): The player’s on-ice CF% compared to the team’s percentage with him off the ice. Due to the limitations of my spreadsheet, the off-ice numbers I’m using are reflective of the full season, not just the games that the player has played in – I’ll be mending that in time for the next big update.
  • Shifts: For the sake of tracking, a shift is counted as every unique instance where a player comes on the ice at 5-on-5. If there is a stoppage in play and the player remains on, that does not count as a unique shift.
  • Estimated Time On Ice: In leagues like the AHL, where Time on Ice is not given, sites estimate it by dividing the team’s ice time played by the goals that the player was on the ice for. This works pretty well over a big sample but undersells low-event players and over-sells high event players, which usually makes coaches look like they’re playing their high-end players instead of their grinders, and makes the high-end players look less productive than they are. My proxy is a little different: With the average NHL shift time being about 40 seconds long, I’ve decided to simply make my formula (Shifts x 40 seconds). As the season progresses, I may adjust this number based on the ratio of shifts to team 5-on-5 ice time.
  • Estimated Points Per 60: Using that estimated time on ice at 5-on-5, we can divide a player’s points scored in the same amount of time to get a rough figure of how many points they’re scoring per hour.
  • Game Score: This is more or less a clone of Dom Luszczyszyn’s NHL Game Score model, except that it doesn’t account for blocked shots (no personal gripe, just not tracking them). Game Score weights Goals, Assists, Shots on Goal, Penalties Drawn and Taken, Faceoffs, On-Ice Corsi, and On-Ice Goals to get an idea of what a player’s impact on a given game was. My weights are the same as Dom’s. (Coincidentally, the best Game Score put up in an NHL game during the analytics era is by Marlies winger Sam Gagner).
  • OZS%: With shifts, I’m also keeping notes on where players are coming onto the ice, be for Offensive, Neutral, or Defensive zone faceoffs, or On The Fly (line changes mid-play). OZS% is their Offensive Zone Start percentage, or their ratio of shifts started in the Offensive Zone compared to the Defensive Zone (OTF and Neutral starts don’t apply here).
  • Selected%: On a similar note, this is just a percentage of how many shifts a player has that start with a faceoff (any zone) vs on-the-fly shifts. This isn’t so much a context that explains a player’s numbers, as it is to show how much a coach might rely on that player; a high Selected % means that the bench boss might feel a player or line to be an important tool in his war chest, while a low one would imply that the player or line is just a body or group of bodies that come out because the big pieces are gassed.
  • Quality Start Percentage: Percentage of games where a goaltender starts the game and finishes with a save percentage equal to or above the typical AHL average save percentage of 0.905.
  • Really Bad Start Percentage: Percentage of games where a goaltender starts the game and finishes with a save percentage below 0.850.

Sound good? Let’s go through the roster, then.

Trevor Moore

Basic Stats: 9 GP, 7 G, 3 A, 10 PTS, 6 PIM, Even, 29 SOG, 24.1 SH%
Underlyings: 67.8 CF%, 17.2 CF% Rel, 5.33 Est. Pts/60 (ES), 1.36 Game Score/GP
Deployment: 16.9 5v5 Shifts/Game, 11.3 Mins Est. ATOI (5v5), 51.5% OZS, 38.3% Selected

The Trevor Moore hype train is a hard one to describe. The speedy, shifty winger didn’t get enough fan-fare when the team signed him out of the NCAA in the summer of 2016, and may have gotten a little bit too much of it too soon last year. Rumblings of NHL-readiness began to spread around the Leafs community throughout the 2017/18 regular season, and while there were flashes of a player gaining his stride, I wasn’t quite sure if he was ready yet.

Once linked up with Adam Brooks and Mason Marchment in the playoffs, however, Moore exploded. While the 15 points he picked up in the final 16 games of the regular season were helpful, the creation of this offensively minded, well balanced, and shelterable line of rookies and sophomores allowed the group to learn how to really become play drivers, both as a unit and as individual components.

The pulled in about two-thirds of all shot attempts while on the ice in the Calder Cup Final, with Moore proving to be the piece that sent an already strong Brooks/Marchment duo into overdrive. What’s impressive, though, is that Moore has carried that momentum into this year. He’s been the team’s most lethal goal scorer, their best every-game play driver, and a threat on both the powerplay and the penalty kill. He’s been sharper than ever at carrying the puck, very good at distributing it, and his confidence while deking and shooting is at an all-time high. He’s gone from slippery to a straight up delivery man of embarrassment, and if he can keep this up, he might just be one of the most lethal threats in the entire league this year.

Moore’s small frame, love for puck carrying, and tenacious attitude also make him a magnet to drawing penalties. So far, he leads the Marlies with 5 calls drawn.

In other words, I’m back on the train. Trevor Moore is probably an NHL-calibre player right now. The Leafs don’t have room for a player of his archetype right now, but he’s got the talent to play on just about any NHL team.

Carl Grundstrom

Basic Stats: 7 GP, 3 G, 5 A, 8 PTS, 4 PIM, +5, 10 SOG, 30.0 SH%
Underlyings: 47.8 CF%, -8.9 CF% Rel, 3.13 Est. Pts/60 (ES), 0.86 Game Score/GP
Deployment: 16.4 5v5 Shifts/Game, 11.0 Mins Est. ATOI (5v5), 66.7% OZS, 54.2% Selected

Speaking of wingers that are on the cusp of something bigger, Carl Grundstrom was a name that many thought would have the opportunity to make the big club in his first full North American season. His performance in last year’s playoffs and in his time in Sweden had many hyped up for the 2016 second round pick, and for good reason.

Alas, training camp didn’t go as well for him as he wanted it to, and while many like his ability to cause a commotion and his lack of fear along the corners, he wasn’t finding his scoring touch. So far, he’s been putting up points with the Marlies, leading the team in points per game with 8 in 7 (missing two games with an illness). There are still some deficiencies, though; he hasn’t been a great driver of possession (albeit while facing other team’s top lines and in specialty zone starts), and he’s not taking as many shots as one would like him to, even with Sam Gagner being an option on the opposite wing. Maybe he’s not as 100% ready as believed, and he needs these extra few months to hone his craft, but the start is still a solid one for the 20-year-old rookie.

Emerson Clark

Basic Stats: 5 GP, 1 G, 0 A, 1 PTS, 5 PIM, -3, 4 SOG, 25.0 SH%
Underlying Numbers: 51.3 CF%, -3.9 CF% Rel, 0.00 Est. Pts/60 (ES), 0.01 Game Score/GP
Deployment: 11.4 5v5 Shifts/Game, 7.6 Mins Est. ATOI (5v5), 50.0% OZS, 30.0% Selected

Emerson Clark turned a lot of heads in Maple Leafs camp this year, to the point where the more old-school hockey residences of the city began to openly ponder if a place could be made for him in the NHL forward core.

That, of course, was crazy talk, as we were talking about 25-year-old who had still been yet to pick up a 20-point AHL season. But his hustle and his fearlessness were still appreciated, especially in preseason games where opposing teams that still believe a bit more in brawns over skill were dressing grittier opponents looking to make a more physical audition.

The efforts were enough to keep Clark out of Newfoundland, though, earning him an initial spot on the Marlies’ fourth line and as a post-special teams time-balancer. Unfortunately, his live-or-die by the sword playstyle has hit him hard and fast to start the year; after a scary enough head collision in the preseason, Clark was downed again by a hit on October 14th, immediately showing signs of an ailment that has not been confirmed to be a concussion, but looked very similar to one. There is no projected timeline for his return, though as bodies that missed the start of the season have started to return to the lineup, I wouldn’t be shocked if he heads to the Growlers once he’s 100%, even if just to get his game back.

Adam Brooks

Has Not Played

Brooks, who I have affectionately referred to for years as “Prairie Jesus” for his dominant scoring touch in the Western Hockey League, was a player that I had very high expectations for last year. As mentioned in Moore’s snippet, Brooks was one of a few players who stepped up as dominant presences with the puck in the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs, after taking months to even get his first professional goal.

Unfortunately, the young centre had his hopes of a running start to 2018/19 shattered by a pre-season injury and has yet to return to game action. This will leave him in a somewhat similar spot to where he was last season, where he started his pro career coming off of mononucleosis. I’d imagine he’ll end up getting played in sheltered, sparing minutes to start whenever he does come back. As it stands, there isn’t a firm date, though the estimation of “not expecting to be in this week” given by Sheldon Keefe a little over a week ago would imply that he’s getting close enough to be measured in a regard of days. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him back in the lineup before the end of the road trip.

Adam Cracknell

Basic Stats: 9 GP, 2 G, 4 A, 6 PTS, 10 PIM, Even, 20 SOG, 10.0 SH%
Underlyings: 53.8 CF%, -1.2 CF% Rel, 2.92 Est. Pts/60 (ES), 0.53 Game Score/GP
Deployment: 17.1 5v5 Shifts/Game, 11.4 Mins Est. ATOI (5v5), 67.6% OZS, 34.9% Selected

Heading into the summer, the Marlies had to replace more than a few core pieces. Not just the Leafs graduates mentioned above, but others who moved elsewhere. Among other things, team captain Ben Smith’s departure to Germany left the team short a veteran presence who could bury goals, and first line centre Miro Aaltonen’s return to the KHL left the team down a forward who could play on both special teams units.

Adam Cracknell was brought in to re-fill those elements. The 33-year old Saskatchewan native cashed in on a near point-per-game season with the bottom-feeder Laval Rocket and jumped over to the Marlies on a one-way NHL deal, making $650,000 to help anchor the team’s minor league hopes.

Cracknell started off the season slow but seems to have picked up the slack a little bit over the past couple of weeks. He was one of the biggest reasons that Toronto was able to push back a little against Utica in their second game without Chris Mueller, and managed to grab the game-winner against his former team last week after an intense, driven 60+ minutes.

One area where the Marlies would likely prefer him to be better is at the faceoff dot, as he’s sitting at about 48% despite usually getting the less worrisome draws at home. But that’s a pretty solid number for a player who usually would be playing right wing instead of centre, and only draws at about 40% at the NHL level.

Griffen Molino

Basic Stats: 6 GP, 1 G, 1 A, 2 PTS, 2 PIM, +2, 7 SOG, 14.3 SH%
Underlyings: 60.9 CF%, 7.0 CF% Rel, 2.17 Est. Pts/60 (ES), 0.48 Game Score/GP
Deployment: 13.8 5v5 Shifts/Game, 9.2 Mins Est. ATOI (5v5), 47.4% OZS, 30.2% Selected

Molino is a bit of an afterthought as far as Toronto’s forwards go, but he’s been one of my more pleasant surprises so far this season. I don’t just mean that because of his possession numbers, either; especially since those are likely inflated by the butter-soft minutes that the fourth line he’s mostly spent his time on has played.

What caught my eye first was his skating ability. At the AHL level, he definitely has the ability to rocket past players with and without the puck. It would be great if he was a little better at finding things to do with it, as his creativity in passing and finishing seem to be sub-par for even this level, but I wonder if that’s something that Toronto’s skill development people can work with him on.

Having his skating ability and work ethic pretty much guarantees that there will always be a team that gives him a bottom six spot, maybe with some penalty kill time mixed in. I’d like to see the Marlies try to make him a bit more than that; until then, he’s about as good of a 12th forward as they’ve got right now.

Rich Clune

Has Not Played

At the end of last season, Rich Clune declared to the Toronto hockey world that he was going to return to the Toronto Marlies for another season. This surprised few, except for perhaps the Marlies themselves, who hadn’t actually drawn up a contract with him.

With that said, Clune is a pretty irreplaceable part of the team’s leadership group and the organization at large, even if he doesn’t draw into many, if any games. His experience at multiple professional levels, his work ethic on the ice and in the gym, and his stories of personal adversity offer a wealth of education and inspiration to players that are often in pivotal points of their lives.

As such, the team signed him in late July to a two-year contract, and… haven’t played him for a single minute since. Part of that has to do with, just like many of these guys, a preseason injury, but minutes will be hard to find even once he’s up to game speed. Due to his veteran status according to the AHL’s development rule, he’d have to draw in at the expense of one the other five full-time veterans (Chris Mueller, Sam Gagner, Adam Cracknell, Vincent LoVerde, or Colin Greening). None of those are particularly likely outcomes in a typical scenario, save for bridge days in 3-in-3s, or games where rough stuff is all but a guarantee; Clune otherwise has to wait for an injury, illness, suspension, or a call-up (in Gagner’s case, a call-out).

Either way, though, the team is happy to have him as long as he wants to be here, even if he isn’t drawing in.

Chris Mueller

Basic Stats: 7 GP, 3 G, 5 A, 8 PTS, 0 PIM, +1, 11 SOG, 27.3 SH%
Underlyings: 49.4 CF%, -6.9 CF% Rel, 3.02 Est. Pts/60 (ES), 1.20 Game Score/GP
Deployment: 17.0 5v5 Shifts/Game, 11.3 Mins Est. ATOI (5v5), 63.0% OZS, 53.2% Selected

Mueller doesn’t get a ton of credit for what he does at the AHL level; history will look back on him as one of the niche AHL heroes, who bounced from market to market, making teams better while never really getting an extended NHL look. To date, he’s put up 50 point seasons for Milwaukee (twice), Texas, San Diego, Tuscon, and the Marlies, and he seems well on his way to do so once again.

Last year, Mueller was one of the team’s top scorers in the playoffs, scoring 16 points in 20 games playing a rather interesting role. He wasn’t assigned to play against top competition, and shutdown lines weren’t assigned to him, but he and his line were used whenever the team really needed a faceoff; especially if the situation called for a right-handed marksman. Faceoff specialists are overvalued in the traditionalist hockey community, but if you have one, and he can play decent enough defensive hockey and top-six offensive hockey, you better believe that he becomes a piece of your toolbox.

That much hasn’t changed. Mueller’s has the largest chunk of his shifts start at the faceoff dot of any Marlies centre, and by a pretty significant margin. He’s lived up to the task, too, winning 65% of his draws and scoring at over a point per game pace on the team’s top line and first powerplay unit.

Mason Marchment

Basic Stats: 4 GP, 1 G, 1 A, 2 PTS, 6 PIM, +2, 9 SOG, 11.1 SH%
Underlyings: 72.0 CF%, 19.3 CF% Rel, 2.61 Est. Pts/60 (ES), 0.93 Game Score/GP
Deployment: 17.3 5v5 Shifts/Game, 11.5 Mins Est. ATOI (5v5), 40.0% OZS, 40.8% Selected

If you told me a year and a half ago that Mason Marchment, who at that point had 1 AHL point in 12 AHL games spread over two seasons, would eventually be on my list of guys to watch out for to make an NHL breakthrough, I would have asked you what cocktail of narcotics you were on and where I could get a deal on them. The idea of Marchment, a player who never really put up impressive point totals in Junior A, Major Junior, or the ECHL, suddenly finding a gear in his twenties that would push him up the latter, quite honestly, seemed ridiculous.

But here we are. The 23-year-old was clearly more optimistic about himself than I was, and the same could be said for the development team that had him in the gym and in skills training courses as much as they possibly could, even in lieu of ECHL time for spurts.

The finished product? That’s not there yet, but what they’ve got now is a quicker moving, smarter thinking, tenacious 6’4 displacement forward, who separates pucks along the boards, contributes to a cycle, crashes the net, and gets under the skin off opponents. It’s a sight to behold, and I honestly wonder if injuries were the only thing stopping him from getting a more serious look at Leafs camp this year. Since coming back, he’s been an absolute force, and the line of himself, Trevor Moore, and Josh Jooris have had comical levels of control of their ice time. When Brooks comes back to take his spot on that kid line, they’re going to absolutely carve opponents up, and Marchment’s ability to dictate the pace is a big reason why.

Jeremy Bracco

Basic Stats: 8 GP, 1 G, 1 A, 2 PTS, 2 PIM, -1, 19 SOG, 5.3 SH%
Underlyings: 51.2 CF%, -4.7 CF% Rel, 1.55 Est. Pts/60 (ES), 0.31 Game Score/GP
Deployment: 14.5 5v5 Shifts/Game, 9.7 Mins Est. ATOI (5v5), 69.6% OZS, 49.0% Selected

I really don’t know where to stand on Bracco right now. I’m the first guy in the world to vouch for small, skilled forwards who can skate, especially when they have a track record for production, which Bracco does at the Major Junior and USNDP levels.

However, he struggled for stretches last year, straight up became a healthy scratch in the playoffs, and he hasn’t looked much better this season. Even with top-six minutes (with Cracknell and Dmytro Timashov to start, now with Grundstrom and Mueller), and powerplay time, Bracco has just two points and hasn’t significantly driven play, even with favourable zone starts.

Keefe was pretty defensive of Bracco’s play when asked about his slumps in a recent media scrum, saying that he drives play in other ways. I can see it; while I’m not tracking Neutral Zone data, his eye test shows a strong puck carrier, and he’s definitely shooting the puck enough right now that he’ll get some points out of it in due time. But I can’t help but think that his best times last year came when paired with a duo that was boosting just about anyone attached to them (late season Brooks and Marchment), and that games where it feels like Bracco is one of the team’s best players are few and far between. I do wonder if linking him up with someone that’s a bit more shoot-first might be helpful; I assume that this was somewhat of the hope with Cracknell and Grundstrom, but maybe looking to a Gagner or a Pierre Engvall could help.

JJ Piccinich

Basic Stats: 6 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 PTS, 2 PIM, -1, 5 SOG, 0.0 SH%
Underlyings: 50.7 CF%, -4.6 CF% Rel, 1.32 Est. Pts/60 (ES), 0.11 Game Score/GP
Deployment: 11.3 5v5 Shifts/Game, 7.6 Mins Est. ATOI (5v5), 42.1% OZS, 34.5% Selected

Piccinich is one of those players that an eye-test traditionalist will always fall in love with. During training camp scrimmages, I thought he was excellent, mostly because he was hustling and always seemed to be making simple, fundamental plays. It’s easy to like that, and it’s easy to stuff that on your fourth line.

That’s what the Marlies did in spurts to start the season, as many of their forwards were out with injuries. Piccinch spent most of his time with Greening and one of Clark or Molino, and, honestly, generated next to nothing threatening, while the flow of play slowed down and started veering towards the middle while he was on the ice. He wasn’t someone that the team could put on special teams and towards the end of the month, he was clearly playing the fewest minutes on the team.

Last weekend, the Marlies and Growlers did a transaction swap with Newfoundland in nearby Brampton to face the Beast. Piccinch was one of the players who went down, and unlike everyone else who was switched back (to either get in reps or take advantage of training resources), Piccinch stayed with the Growlers. That’s likely the best outcome; he’s a decent player at the ECHL level, and may be able to use Newfoundland to get his game to an AHL level, but he isn’t there yet.

Josh Jooris

Basic Stats: 9 GP, 1 G, 1 A, 2 PTS, 0 PIM, +2, 19 SOG, 5.3 SH%
Underlyings: 62.6 CF%, 11.1 CF% Rel, 1.18 Est. Pts/60 (ES), 0.78 Game Score/GP
Deployment: 17.0 5v5 Shifts/Game, 11.3 Mins Est. ATOI (5v5), 56.3% OZS, 42.9% Selected

“What do you think of Jooris? He’s a good, kid, eh? Great kid.”

That was the scouting report from Brian Burke as he sat next to me in the press box a few weekends ago, taking in some games on an off day from Sportsnet. Burke had Jooris on his roster with the Calgary Flames while he was a part of their front office, and spoke glowingly of him as a person. That the 28-year-old would have fans of his character came of little surprise to me, given that he has never picked up more than 27 points in a professional season, yet still consistently gets contracts in the opening days of free agency, also playing with the Rangers, Coyotes, Hurricanes, and Penguins.

The Marlies are his new destination, and so far, he’s carved a niche. The production hasn’t been there for him here either, but whether he’s played with Engvall, Bracco, Greening, Marchment, or Moore, the ice has typically tilted in his favour. Much like Mueller, he also has proficiency at the dot at this level – while he’s never had a 50% faceoff rate in the NHL, he’s sitting at around 57% with the Marlies thus far. Keefe is more likely to use Jooris for defensive zone draws, or if he just feels that Mueller is tired.

Besides that, he’s your typical multi-tool forward. He works hard, his boardplay is adept, he can read a cycle well and typically knows where to be in his own end. Jooris generally splits first-unit penalty killing minutes with Colin Greening.

Colin Greening

Basic Stats: 9 GP, 1 G, 2 A, 3 PTS, 0 PIM, -5, 13 SOG, 7.7 SH%
Underlyings: 46.0 CF%, -11.0 CF% Rel, 2.09 Est. Pts/60 (ES), 0.22 Game Score/GP
Deployment: 14.3 5v5 Shifts/Game, 9.6 Mins Est. ATOI (5v5), 37.0% OZS, 24.8% Selected

As we established above, one of Greening’s most important contributions to the team, besides being a key part of their core leadership group, is playing on that top penalty-killing unit. So far, that’s admittedly the highlight of his season, as things haven’t gone super well for him so far.

In fairness to Greening, the odds are pretty stacked against him. He’s back to playing centre for now, after playing on the wing for most of last season. He’s been largely removed from both of the linemates he had on the team’s playoff shutdown line (Engvall and Leafs graduate-for-now Frederik Gauthier). He’s been given some less-than-creative linemates (including having both Piccinch and Clark for a few games), the minutes he gets are often time-eating ones, and the underlying results are likely not helped by shots conceded immediately after penalty kills are finished.

But it’s still not great. You figure that the situation can be made better for him in due time, (getting Pierre Engvall back on his left wing, for now, is a good start) and the return of Brooks and/or Gauthier will move him back to the wing, which should be a better spot for him. His production still looks fine from a rate perspective as well. But ultimately, there’s something to be said about being the only regular skater sitting below the 50% line of possession right now.

Dmytro Timashov

Basic Stats: 9 GP, 2 G, 3 A, 5 PTS, 8 PIM, -4, 11 SOG, 18.2 SH%
Underlyings: 55.1 CF%, 0.4 CF% Rel, 0.64 Est. Pts/60 (ES), 0.43 Game Score/GP
Deployment: 15.7 5v5 Shifts/Game, 10.4 Mins Est. ATOI (5v5), 56.4% OZS, 36.4% Selected

Timashov is another player that many were hoping to take a very big step this year, and so far, it’s not there yet. Most notably, his production at even strength has been lacking, with just one of his five points coming away from the powerplay. It should be noted that some of his linemates in that stretch have also been players with inconsistencies (7 of 9 games with Cracknell, 4 of 9 with Bracco), but he’s also had stretches with Moore and Gagner that should have helped him pick things up.

Maybe it’s a matter of not being able to rope-a-dope players as much as he’d like to with other players who command the puck as much as him playing alongside him, or maybe it’s just tough luck. What we do know is that his lines have been in the drivers seat in most games, that he’s continued to be extremely adept at carrying the puck and moving it into the correct zones, that he’s quarterbacked the point on the powerplay though these games, that his play style tends to create powerplays (and has already drawn three of them), and that he’s the type of player who will be able to feed a hot stick if one of his linemates develops one.

It’s an interesting case. I’m leaning towards “cold” here. Still not sure whether he’s an NHLer in the near future, but I think we’re about to see a very good AHLer unfurl himself.

Pierre Engvall

Basic Stats: 7 GP, 3 G, 2 A, 5 PTS, 2 PIM, -2, 25 SOG, 12.0 SH%
Underlyings: 55.4 CF%, 0.8 CF% Rel, 3.16 Est. Pts/60 (ES), 0.85 Game Score/GP
Deployment: 16.3 5v5 Shifts/Game, 10.9 Mins Est. ATOI (5v5), 57.6% OZS, 37.1% Selected

When Pierre Engvall showed up to the Toronto Marlies at the end of his 2016/17 Allsvenskan season, we saw a lanky, timid player who didn’t appear to be using his stick-handling ability in ways that would be useful in front of the net, where you’d normally like a player of his shadow-inducing ability to be.

When he showed up to to the team at the end of his 2017/18 SHL season, we saw a player much more willing to shoot, a player who still wasn’t pushing people around but wasn’t getting pushed around himself, and a player much more slippery up close. He also seemed a little bit more physically prepared, likely knowing that this was the moment that he was going to cross the pond and stay there for good.

This year, that moment came, and it’s been good so far. Engvall continues to put up points, at a rate closer to his late regular season than his playoffs. That may slide a little; Engvall missed a pair of games due to an undisclosed injury, and while he’s returned and looked good in his first game back, his role will likely be a little bit less offence-oriented should he stay with Greening.

Engvall isn’t super high on the depth chart, but at 22 years old and with a good professional track record, I could see this being a stepping stone to something bigger eventually.

Sam Gagner

Basic Stats: 9 GP, 4 G, 4 A, 8 PTS, 4 PIM, -2, 31 SOG, 12.9 SH%
Underlyings: 54.5 CF%, -0.3 CF% Rel, 4.25 Est. Pts/60 (ES), 0.90 Game Score/GP
Deployment: 16.4 5v5 Shifts/Game, 11.0 Mins Est. ATOI (5v5), 71.7% OZS, 41.7% Selected

The hockey world was shocked about a month ago when the Vancouver Canucks decided to cut Sam Gagner just before the start of the regular season. After no one claimed him off of waivers, no doubt because of the salary that remains owed to him (two more years at $3.15 million), the team did something even more unorthodox; they sent him to the Marlies.

From the Canucks’ perspective, it allowed for the team to do right by the player they committed three years to, keeping him a direct flight away from his family in Vancouver and letting him stay with his parents in Toronto during the season. It also meant not taking away minutes from younger players in Utica.

For Toronto, it was a bit muddier; he would be taking away minutes, and the team obviously can’t build around a player who could be called up without their input at any given moment. But he gave them a dynamic forward presence that they could use at the time, that fit within their expected veteran rotation, and, if they were feeling a little petty, it was a good way for Laurence Gilman to get the Canucks to pay millions of dollars to send a player to him.

So far, the experiment has been a good one. Gagner has bought into the team, and the production has by and large matched. Playing on the top powerplay unit and bouncing between the first and second lines, Gagner has played a quiet role in some games and been a driving force in others, including taking an impressive 30 shots in his first 7 games. Keeping him focused and happy is going to be an interesting challenge (as it would be for any regular NHLer who suddenly has his life changed), but for now, it’s hard to complain.

Kyle Cumiskey

Basic Stats: 1 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 PTS, 0 PIM, -1, 0 SOG, 0.0 SH%
Underlyings: 35.3 CF%, -20.0 CF% Rel, 0.00 Est. Pts/60 (ES), -0.40 Game Score/GP
Deployment: 17.0 5v5 Shifts/Game, 11.3 Mins Est. ATOI (5v5), 66.7% OZS, 33.3% Selected

Cumiskey’s tenure with the Marlies was short and forgettable if we’re being honest. While he was around for training camp and an exhibition game, his practical experience with the team came in just one game, as a seventh defenceman on a weekend where the Marlies decided to take him and Ryan Sproul out for test drives with Chris Mueller injured.

Cumiskey signed with the Newfoundland Growlers shortly after and picked up an assist in his third game, which I don’t think you can even really seen in the above video. We’ll see if he ends up back up with the Marlies; as a designated veteran, I’d be shocked if it happened without an emergency.

Vincent LoVerde

Basic Stats: 9 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 PTS, 2 PIM, -4, 10 SOG, 0.0 SH%
Underlyings: 54.5 CF%, -0.4 CF% Rel, 0.44 Est. Pts/60 (ES), 0.23 Game Score/GP
Deployment: 22.8 5v5 Shifts/Game, 15.2 Mins Est. ATOI (5v5), 48.4% OZS, 40.5% Selected

LoVerde is a player who doesn’t get a lot of love from people who only glance at the Marlies to look at prospects, but he’s been a pretty instrumental add to the team with all things considered. The 29-year-old was brought in to be a veteran that could also play tough minutes last summer, and the former Ontario Reign captain did just that, acting as one of the Marlies’ go-to leaders in their push towards the Calder Cup.

Besides that, though, he also took on a lot of the defensive zone responsibilities with Calle Rosen, and was a tank on the penalty kill; while he wasn’t getting the top-tier responsibilities that they wanted their NHL hopefuls to learn from, he withstood the heaviest of the remainder, and fared well in the role.

That has been somewhat of his modus operandi this year as well. While Rosen joins Timothy Liljegren on the top pair, LoVerde has been tasked with balancing out Andreas Borgman and, in his debut last week, Rasmus Sandin. He hasn’t been quite as good as last year, and flat-out struggled in the first few games, but seems to be catching his stride a little as the season progresses. As the younger guys establish their roles, his importance on the ice will likely diminish a bit.

Andrew Nielsen

Basic Stats: 6 GP, 0 G, 3 A, 3 PTS, 12 PIM, -1, 10 SOG, 0.0 SH%
Underlyings: 52.1 CF%, -3.3 CF% Rel, 1.70 Est. Pts/60 (ES), 0.13 Game Score/GP
Deployment: 17.7 5v5 Shifts/Game, 11.8 Mins Est. ATOI (5v5), 65.6% OZS, 38.4% Selected

Two years ago, it was not uncommon to hear people within the fanbase and the media claim that Andrew Nielsen was very close to NHL-ready and certainly better than fellow rookie and close friend Travis Dermott. Arguing the opposite was considered a hot take.

A correction was inevitable, but I didn’t think it would be this steep. Dermott has rapidly become an excellent, perhaps still underrated NHL defenceman. Nielsen, on the other hand, is playing his way out of the AHL at 21.

It’s crazy to think about, but consider the Marlies’ defensive depth right now. Even if just looking at lefties, he has to chase Rosen, Borgman, and Sandin; all of whom seem further ahead. Nielsen’s footwork remains sub-par, and his decision making is below the curve in a lot of ways – from pass selection to aggression leading to penalties, to poor reads of attacking forwards. Nielsen’s games have seen him play ridiculously sheltered minutes at even strength, with partners who have gotten positive results, and he’s still trailing behind the rest of the group.

I don’t know where you go from here. I don’t think he has the trade value that he had when his slap shot was delivering him powerplay points in his rookie year, and while the Growlers offer him minutes, they might not offer him room for development. The same goes for loaning him to another AHL team; most teams that get the development pathway likely don’t need a Nielsen on their left side, and he’s not enough of a needle-mover for them to want to help Toronto mend a prospect.

Maybe it’s a few months at the Mason Marchment skill of press boxes and skills courses. I don’t know. But we’re hitting the crossroads stage here.

Timothy Liljegren

Basic Stats: 9 GP, 1 G, 2 A, 3 PTS, 2 PIM, -2, 8 SOG, 12.5 SH%
Underlyings: 51.7 CF%, -4.4 CF% Rel, 0.57 Est. Pts/60 (ES), 0.26 Game Score/GP
Deployment: 17.6 5v5 Shifts/Game, 11.7 Mins Est. ATOI (5v5), 57.5% OZS, 34.6% Selected

There isn’t a player on this team with a higher air of expectation to him than 19-year-old Timothy Liljegren, entering his second year with the Marlies and the Leafs organization. The 2017 first-round pick, who went from first overall threat to the middle rounds after a battle with mononucleosis, has been expected by many to show his first strong signs of NHL readiness after having the best statistical season from an 18-year-old defenceman in the AHL ever (albeit, in a small sample).

Liljegren’s responsibilities this year are significantly different than last season. In 2017/18, Liljegren was played with strong partners in secondary or tertiary minutes, allowing him to avoid facing a ton of adversity as he got used to the league. This year, he’s with Calle Rosen on the first pair, tasked with taking on the toughest opponents, sometimes being shut down themselves, leading the top penalty kill unit, and also playing on the top powerplay unit.

In other words, Liljegren, who blossomed and had a few monster games in the playoffs that reminded us of the star upside we believe him to have, is being treated a hell of a lot like an AHL number one defenceman, which isn’t super normal for a player who would be too young to play in the league if he was North American (in fact, he is still the sixth-youngest player in the AHL that has played more than one game this year).

The results are mixed. He’s had good games, he’s had awful games, he’s had some creative plays, and he’s had some catastrophes. He’s bobbled pucks and given them away in aggravating fashion. The growing pains are there. But they’re pains under pressure, and they’re expected ones. I’m not going to tell you that he’s been dominant, or even great overall, but this is the challenge I’d like to see him undertake. If they stick to it, we should know what the organization has in this young man by the end of the year.

Rasmus Sandin

Basic Stats: 1 GP, 1 G, 0 A, 1 PTS, 0 PIM, +1, 1 SOG, 100.0 SH%
Underlyings: 55.6 CF%, 0.8 CF% Rel, 5.00 Est. Pts/60 (ES), 1.23 Game Score/GP
Deployment: 18.0 5v5 Shifts/Game, 12.0 Mins Est. ATOI (5v5), 42.9% OZS, 53.8% Selected

I mentioned that Liljegren is among the youngest to play regular shifts in the AHL this year. Sandin has played just one game, but in that game, he became the league’s youngest player, at 18.6 years old. With his first shot, he became the first player born in the 2000s to score a goal in the AHL.

Sandin’s debut came a little later than hoped, after missing several weeks with an injury. But, playing mostly alongside Vincent LoVerde, Sandin looked pretty good; calm, composed, and true to the game he was drafted for by the team.

I imagine the team will take the coming weeks pretty slow with him, sheltering him in a way similar to how they did with Liljegren last year and perhaps not even playing him in every single game. But by the end of this month, I expect one of those left-side spots to be firmly his, if not sooner.

As far as his status goes, Sandin will remain with the Marlies for the foreseeable future. The team has not definitively declared this his permanent spot (a return to Major Junior or Sweden remain possible), and I figure that he’ll head with Liljegren to the World Juniors in late December, but I can’t see an outcome where he finishes the season with a team other than the Marlies as likely.

Jordan Subban

Basic Stats: 9 GP, 1 G, 5 A, 6 PTS, 2 PIM, +2, 23 SOG, 4.3 SH%
Underlyings: 63.4 CF%, 11.6 CF% Rel, 3.00 Est. Pts/60 (ES), 0.88 Game Score/GP
Deployment: 16.7 5v5 Shifts/Game, 11.1 Mins Est. ATOI (5v5), 81.8% OZS, 27.9% Selected

When the Leafs signed Jordan Subban as an unrestricted free agent on July 1st, I was very excited. Firstly, having the opportunity to say that the Leafs acquired Subban and Tavares on the same day, even if in slight bad faith, is all sorts of fun. Fun is also a great way to explain what Subban is; if a play involves moving the puck forward, he’s all over it. Whether it’s a carry, a pass, or a shot, it’s Jordan Subban’s wheelhouse, not unlike his older brother.

Where he is a bit unlike his older brother is that his defensive reads are less than stellar (unlike PK, who is a smart defensive player whose mistakes usually come from losing risk-reward bets), and he’s on the smaller side at 5’9, 175. It leads to teams not trusting him very much specifically because his style is counter to how most approach his position (which, as a defence abolitionist, I’m okay with).

Subban has lived up to all of that so far here. Keefe doesn’t tap on his shoulder too often in draw situations, when he does it’s always in the offensive zone, and he’s had some real low-lights on goals against that have earned him some bench time. But he’s also generating a ton of shots, setting up a bunch of goals, and the ice is hilariously tilted in his favour when he’s on the ice, getting nearly two shot attempts for every one against, even when playing with guys like Nielsen, Cumiskey, and Sproul. Subban has also found a home on the second powerplay unit.

I think with the right assistance, the Leafs organization can turn Subban into an NHL defenceman. He was a guy I liked a lot in the Canucks organization and was sad to see leave there, but this is a scenario that’s even easier to support. While he likely won’t stay this hot, I think there’s a clear value to what he brings to the team.

Frank Corrado

Has Not Played

If there’s a bubble defenceman of ex-Canucks heritage that I like more than Jordan Subban, it’s Frank Corrado, as many of you have noticed and put up with over the past several years. The Leafs organization shocked many by bringing him back into the fold last week, and he’s yet to strap on the gear since.

I went into much more detail on Corrado in his own post recently, so I won’t wax poetic about him here for too long. The long and short of things is that he’s coming off of an ACL injury and is essentially in his own “preseason” stage right now. I wouldn’t be shocked if he were still a few games out from playing. When he comes in, it’ll make things tight, with Liljegren, LoVerde, and Subban already covering the right side.

Maybe they go with four righties and have Corrado and Sandin rotate as they get adjusted, or maybe we just see more rotation in general as the season progresses. I’m really curious to how that all plays out.

Sam Jardine

Basic Stats: 2 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 PTS, 4 PIM, Even, 0 SOG, 0.0 SH%
Underlyings: 55.0 CF%, 0.2 CF% Rel, 0.00 Est. Pts/60 (ES), -0.25 Game Score/GP
Deployment: 8.5 5v5 Shifts/Game, 5.7 Mins Est. ATOI (5v5), 66.7% OZS, 40.0% Selected

Jardine is distinctly in “guy” territory, and the fact that he has a statline is probably the most damning reflection on Nielsen’s performance this year, because there is no other reason for a player like him to have gotten into two games with a healthy left-handed prospect that’s been around for 2+ years available.

That’s of zero disrespect to Sam Jardine, a 25-year old former Blackhawks pick who has honed himself a professional hockey career by being an available, steady, unassuming defenceman, mostly at the ECHL level. But he’s not someone the Marlies see a lot in over a long-haul, he doesn’t come with enough upside to be seriously developing him, and as you can see by the number of shifts that he took in the games that he played and the fact that he was nowhere near a special teams situation, there isn’t a heck of a lot of trust in him coming from the bench.

I figure that Jardine will head down to Newfoundland once Corrado is healthy, if not sooner. At that point, they’ll have another non-veteran to plug into the rotation, making his potential games few and far between.

Calle Rosen

Basic Stats: 9 GP, 1 G, 7 A, 8 PTS, 10 PIM, +4, 22 SOG, 4.5 SH%
Underlyings: 52.8 CF%, -3.1 CF% Rel, 3.67 Est. Pts/60 (ES), 0.76 Game Score/GP
Deployment: 21.8 5v5 Shifts/Game, 14.5 Mins Est. ATOI (5v5), 64.6% OZS, 32.9% Selected

Calle Rosen started his time in the organization up with the Leafs, thought to be the more NHL ready between himself and Andreas Borgman, with maybe a bit less upside. Fast foward, and his big league tenure lasted three games, he took a few months to find his groove in the AHL, but since then, there’s been a night and day difference in the decision that Rosen makes with and without the puck. What was once a north-south skater and not much else is now a well-rounded defenceman who can be a puck mover or stay-at-home presence at a moment’s notice.

This was best proven in the Calder Cup Final, where Rosen was arguably Toronto’s standout defenceman against the Texas Stars when paired with Vincent LoVerde. This year, his mainstay is LIljegren on the Marlies’ top pair (an upgrade from Pair 2), with some spot duty with the likes of LoVerde and Subban should a situation necessitate it. He plays on the top penalty kill, he can play on the powerplay if they want him to. The shot metrics aren’t there on a relative spectrum, but they’re still pretty solid, especially considering top competition. While I don’t think he’s better than anyone the Leafs are dressing on the left side right now, his talent level is definitely starting to look NHL-compliant.

Ryan Sproul

Basic Stats: 1 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 PTS, 0 PIM, Even, 5 SOG, 0.0 SH%
Underlyings: 61.9 CF%, 7.3 CF% Rel, 4.73 Est. Pts/60 (ES), 1.13 Game Score/GP
Deployment: 19.0 5v5 Shifts/Game, 12.7 Mins Est. ATOI (5v5), 100.0% OZS, 40.0% Selected

Sproul joins Cumiskey in the “one-game wonder club”, and unlike Cumiskey, there isn’t really much of a chance of him returning to the Marlies this year, as he signed a PTO with the Laval Rocket and is off to a running start with them. In his one regular season game with the Marlies, Sproul looked pretty good, if extremely sheltered; he was used as a seventh defenceman for much of the start of the game, and somewhat more regular minutes later in the afternoon after Jordan Subban was benched for a poor defensive play. Toronto was in an all-out-attack phase of sorts at this point, though, trying to come back from what was ultimately an insurmountable deficit, so it’s possible that the numbers were tilted in his favour.

Whatever the case, he wasn’t likely to stick around even with a monster game; he counted as a veteran under the development rule and he wasn’t going to beat out any of the other righties. For his sake, I hope Laval works out.

Andreas Borgman

Basic Stats: 9 GP, 1 G, 3 A, 4 PTS, 4 PIM, -1, 26 SOG, 3.8 SH%
Underlyings: 54.2 CF%, -1.0 CF% Rel, 1.81 Est. Pts/60 (ES), 0.60 Game Score/GP
Deployment: 22.1 5v5 Shifts/Game, 14.7 Mins Est. ATOI (5v5), 38.8% OZS, 32.3% Selected

At a certain point this fall, Andreas Borgman was an overwhelmingly popular pick to make the Leafs roster, particularly after a solid preseason debut. Instead, those 6-8 spots went to Igor Ozhiganov, Justin Holl, and Martin Marincin, who have all looked relatively solid in the time given to them.

Borgman’s time with the Marlies, on the other hand, is a bit of a mixed bag. I wonder how much his time with the Leafs last year was a curse as much as it was a blessing; it was NHL money and a good reality check, but it also inflated expectations for him as an “established NHLer” and took away a few months of skill development time from a North American rookie.

In a sense, the warts in Borgman’s game are similar to what we’ve seen with Rosen; strong skating with the puck that isn’t matched up with much creativity in moving it to others or towards the net, questionable reads, and poor discipline remain a few concerns. To his credit, his last few games have looked a bit better, and I suspect that he’s got as good of an opportunity as any to improve on those on those faults as the months pass.

Borgman’s usage is somewhat similar to what Rosen’s was in the playoffs last year, right down to the partner. He’s mostly played secondary shifts with LoVerde, both at even strength and on the penalty kill. Last game saw a slight change of pace, though, as he lined up next to Subban.

Kasimir Kaskisuo

Basic Stats: 4 GP, 4 Starts, 1-2-0, 0.860 SV%, 5.31 GAA
Underlying Numbers: 50% Quality Starts, 50% Really Bad Starts
Deployment: Starting Goaltender

I don’t know how many professional goaltenders have had a whirlwind start to their season like Kasimir Kaskisuo has, but I hope it’s very few. Kaskisuo entered training camp wondering if he’d be the third wheel for a second consecutive year (last year, Sparks and Pickard forced the Marlies into loaning Kaskisuo to the Chicago Wolves), found out a few weeks later that waiver claims would make him the starter, had a strong debut, got shelled in his second game, chased in this third game, and injured in his fourth.

Brutal, right? To make matters worse, the injury has been referred to as a long-term one, with no ETA for his recovery. After being handed a great opportunity, circumstance has ripped it away from him; we’ll see who he ends up having to go up against when he gets back.

Jeff Glass

Basic Stats: 7 GP, 5 Starts, 3-2-1, 0.895 SV%, 2.91 GAA
Underlying Numbers: 60% Quality Starts, 20% Really Bad Starts
Deployment: Temporary Starting Goaltender

Everyone loves a good comeback story, and that’s what Jeff Glass was for the Marlies. The thing is, though, that some may forget that this one was a comeback, as Glass played just in just two games for the team in 2016/17. Either way, he was quick to answer the call when the Calvin Pickard and Curtis McElhinney claims came into place, and in quick fashion, became the starting goaltender.

At first, it looked like the Marlies had made a grave, grave mistake. To be open and transparent, Glass’ first few games looked dreadful; full of misplays and slow reactions as his opponents ate him alive. However, he put up quality starts in every game of Toronto’s winning streak, and has stopped all but four of the last 68 pucks he’s faced. Maybe there’s still some gas left in Glass’ tank?

The Marlies sure hope so.

Eamon McAdam

Basic Stats: Five games backed up, no TOI
Underlying Numbers: Probably tracking them on the bench
Deployment: In case of everyone’s emergency

Last but not least, we have maybe the most interesting man in the Leafs organization right now. Eamon McAdam was acquired as the throwaway contract that headed back in the Matt Martin trade to the New York Islanders, and quickly became one of the most important players to have on paper.

When the Leafs were jammed with goaltenders, McAdam was pegged to be the Growlers’ starter. When they lost two goaltenders, the Marlies signed Glass and McAdam was still pegged to be the Growlers’ starter. When Kaskisuo got hurt, he became the Marlies’ backup, and when Frederik Andersen seemed a bit sore, he suddenly was backing up Garret Sparks against the Los Angeles Kings at Scotiabank Arena.

Andersen ended up fine, and he was the Marlies’ backup again. But now he was cold, so last weekend, he was loaned to the Growlers to see some pucks; he stopped 18 of 21. Now he’s back with the Marlies, where he will likely not play too much as the Leafs might need him, the third goaltender under contract, to be called up once again and can’t really afford for him to get hurt.

What a life, man. Forget all of these players on hot streaks and development trajectories. I want to be wearing Carlton The Bear’s number after rocketing from the ECHL to the NHL in a week without really doing much of anything. That’s hockey in my books.

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