Whoa. Didn't realize they were that hot.
Dubas might be a true genius.
Dubas might be a true genius.
And keefer has no love for plugs either. You can either play hockey or you cant. Standing in the right spot while long and heavy isnt a virtue to KeefeWould not be surprised to see Harpur sent to the Growlers. The guy is just awful and Keefe is good at his talent evaluation.
After two minor-league championships in the span of roughly a calendar year, Laurence Gilman stepped out of the Marlies’ locker room three hours before puck drop on a new season to say this was the start of a new era.
This season, Gilman’s second full year in charge of the Leafs’ affiliates alongside his role as the NHL club’s assistant general manager, was “definitely” the first with a true three-tier system, he said.
The formulas that turned the organization’s two affiliates into models for their respective leagues were old news. The Leafs think they’ve found an even better path forward.
“We’ve referred to it as a baseball model where our players will begin their professional careers at the Double-A level in Newfoundland with the Growlers, and good examples of that is with Joe Duszak, Mac Hollowell and Justin Brazeau,” Gilman said. “They’ll start their careers there, we’ll monitor their performance closely, we’ll be there on a regular basis, our player development people will be there, and in time they’ll make their way, hopefully, from Newfoundland to here and eventually from here to the Leafs.”
It all sounded like Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt) telling his head scout Grady Fuson (played by Ken Medlock) to “adapt or die” in “Moneyball.” Only the Marlies aren’t the poor team “50 feet of crap” below everyone else. They’re the Yankees.
They’re the team that started with Kenny Agostino, who last year spent a chunk of the season playing on the New Jersey Devils’ first line and two years before that won the AHL scoring title, on their so-called third line.
The new vision is clear: The Marlies will be less of an entry point for the Leafs’ prospects and more of a battling ground for NHL depth. The road for the organization’s prized young prospects will now be a longer one.
“We knew with the construction of the Leafs and the salary cap that we were going to have to find cost-efficient players at the bottom of our lineup, particularly with respect to the forward group. And we felt it was incumbent upon us to find players who could play at either level, whether that’s the NHL on the fourth line or potentially be first- or second-line players for this group,” Gilman said.
The Leafs don’t believe that approach will stifle the team’s prospects, though.
Instead, they hope it helps them blossom in more prominent roles with their respective teams as they progress one level at a time.
“The American Hockey League is a very difficult league. There are veteran players. We have Matt Read who is playing for us, who has played 449 games in the NHL,” Gilman said, pointing to Duszak as a player who will benefit from starting in the ECHL because of the expanded opportunity he’ll be afforded.
“(Duszak’s) going to play power play, he’s going to play five-on-five, he’s going to kill penalties, he’ll be on the ice late in a game when we’re down a goal and when we’re protecting a lead at the end when we’re up a goal. It’s much better that they play more meaningful minutes and larger minutes at that level, get themselves grounded, and then come up and play and are able to play on an everyday basis here.”