Toronto Maple Leafs possess diverse group of players at minor-league level

By John-Eric Iannicello
Photo: The youngest member of the Toronto Marlies, Kenny Ryan has struggled to get consistent ice time at the minor-league level, fueling speculation he may be returned to the OHL for an overage season. (Photo courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

The Maple Leafs have 17 players in total playing in both the AHL and ECHL. Only two players, forward Dale Mitchell and goaltender Mark Owuya, are currently assigned to the Reading Royals of the ECHL.


AHL

Tyler Brenner, RW, 23

Coming from the NCAA as a free-agent, Tyler Brenner has tried to find his role at the pro level with the Marlies. Due to a healthy roster to start the season, he was rotated in and out of the lineup as a depth forward. When injuries started to hit after the first few weeks of the year, Brenner started to see more of a consistent role in the forward group. He’s primarily been used in a depth checking role as he’s seen time on the team’s fourth line. Brenner demonstrated strong physical play and good energy through his 18 games. He’s only scored once and added two assists and is a minus-seven.


Luca Caputi, LW, 23

After an injury filled 2010-11 season, Luca Caputi was looking to bounce back to the player the Maple Leafs thought they were acquiring two seasons ago. So far this season, it hasn’t been a great year for the Toronto native. He’s missed significant time with injury yet again and has only played in 17 games on the year. In many of those games he’s been a non-factor and has seen limited action. This in part can be attributed to the fact he missed almost all of last season, but also speaks to the depth that has surpassed the 23-year-old. He only has two goals on the year and will need to raise his offensive production if he plans to be more than a depth forward with the club.

Joe Colborne, C, 21

The early story of the season has been the sensational play of Joe Colborne. The 6’5 skilled forward was dominant through the first month and half with the Marlies scoring at nearly two point’s per-game. He established great chemistry with veteran forward Joey Crabb, and the duo began to establish themselves as the most dominant pair in the AHL. Prior to joining the Maple Leafs for a brief stint, he had recorded 10 goals and nine assists for 19 points through 13 games. He was the team’s primary offensive center and saw a lot of action on the primary power-play unit. Returning to the Marlies, Colborne has continued where he left off and has 10 goals and 12 points in 19 games.


Jerry D’Amigo, LW, 20

After spending a chunk of his season with the Marlies, just to be sent to Kitchener (OHL) in the New Year, D’Amigo has played with more confidence this season. He’s received great praise from Head Coach Dallas Eakins due to his ability to adjust to any role he’s assigned to, and make those around him better. Not only has D’Amigo provided strong supporting offense, but he’s been one of the team’s strongest two-way players due to his skating and work ethic. As mentioned above, D’Amigo has been all over the lineup, and has continued to play a consistent hard-working game. He has already surpassed his point totals from all of last season in only 26 games (he played in 43 last season). He has seven goals, 10 assists, and a plus-four through 30 games.

Nazem Kadri, C, 21

With Kadri failing to crack the Maple Leafs lineup full-time for another season, the team looked to shift him to full-time winger. The thought process behind the move was that Kadri didn’t have to carry the defensive duties required from an NHL center. The move wasn’t terrible, but it did limit Kadri’s overall offensive ability by moving him to the wall. He also joined the Marlies after coming off a knee injury which factored into his slow start. As a winger, Kadri didn’t have as much creative freedom as he had down the middle. When injuries and call-ups started to mount, he was moved back to center to compensate for the loss of depth. He has been on a tear since mid-November and has 22 points through 22 games now.

Marcel Mueller, LW, 23

Another one of Burke’s ‘free wallets’ found in Germany, Mueller is beginning to produce as projected when he was signed. With a rookie year full of inconsistencies, injuries, and healthy scratches, Mueller has become more consistent player. He hasn’t gone more than two games without a point and is starting to utilize his physical attributes more effectively. He’s been a mainstay in the team’s top-six, and power-play (although he only has two points on the man advantage).

Kenny Ryan, RW, 20

As the youngest forward on the team, Ryan has been hard pressed to crack the Marlies roster full-time. After a very strong training camp where he played in two exhibition games with the Maple Leafs, Ryan found himself rotating in and out of the lineup with other Marlie forwards. When in the lineup, Ryan hasn’t looked out of place. But his style of game is something the Marlies have an abundance of: defensive minded, checking forwards. While currently nursing an injury, Ryan will need to bide his time before he can nab a full-time position with the club. At 20-years-old, there isn’t a rush for the young prospect, but playing time is crucial. There’s potential for him to return to Windsor as an overage forward, but for now he remains with the Marlies.

Greg Scott, RW, 23

Arguably the clubs most underrated forwards over the last few seasons has been 23-year-old Greg Scott. In his third-year with the Marlies, Scott looks like he’s starting to turn into a very strong two-way forward. He’s a player the Marlies can put in any situation and see results. Scott has nine goals (including two short-handed goals) and eight assists for 17 points in 29 games. He has a nose for the net, good speed, strong work-ethic and good hockey smarts. He’s been a jack-of-all-trades for the club, and has seen ice-time in all-situations.

Keith Aulie, D, 22

When most anticipated Keith Aulie‘s return to the Maple Leafs top-six, a poor preseason saw his sophomore season begin in the AHL. His play at the AHL level has been less than spectacular also. In the 15 games he’s played in for the Marlies, he’s been held scoreless and is a minus-10. He also missed a few games with a rib injury. Offensive production isn’t an area that Aulie’s expected to excel in, but a team worst minus-10 is a stat that raises a few eyebrows. Even with his rocky start, he was recalled on November 27th to the Maple Leafs as the bumps and bruises started to add up. He remains with the club currently, and has appeared in two games.


Jesse Blacker, D, 20

The top rookie scorer on the Marlies, Jesse Blacker, is a player who’s embraced the ice-time opened up by the departure of Matt Lashoff. While the loss of Lashoff was a blow to the Marlies, it’s allowed others to step-up in his absence. In this case, Blacker has been able to take more of a primary role on the power-play. While the power play units have been jumbled at times (with the Marlies even going with five forwards), Blacker has been able to adjust to the role of quarterback on the teams second unit. He has nine assists in 28 games with the club and is a plus-two. He still makes lapses in judgement from time to time, but his natural ability can’t be ignored. He’ll have to tighten up his decision making, and keep his emotions in check in order to avoid costly penalties.


Simon Gysbers, D, 24

Simon Gysbers has continued his quiet play with the Marlies in his second season. After leading the team in defensive scoring a year ago, he’s continued his production offensively this season with 12 points in 23 games. There isn’t much flash to Gysbers game as he tends to quietly notch points. He’s not the quickest defender and can miss defensive assignments. With the depth on defense early in the year, Gysbers was one of the odd-men out on defense, but has worked his way back into the lineup. He’s been paired consistently with veteran Jeff Finger over the last few games.


Korbinian Holzer, D, 23

Picking up where he had left off last season, Korbinian Holzer continues to be a model of consistency for the Marlies. The 23-year-old has been a mainstay in the top-four, and has seen time in all special teams’ situations. He has one goal and six assists in 27 games this season and is a minus-four with 29 penalty minutes. He was the first defenseman recalled by the Maple Leafs on November 20th, but did not dress in any games before being re-assigned to the Marlies on November 27th.

Juraj Mikus, D, 23

Slowly coming into form, Juraj Mikus is looking to take steps forward in consistency this season. He hasn’t produced as much offensively as he is capable of with only five assists in 30 games, but has improved to a plus-two on the year. Mikus has played the most games out of all Marlies and, like Holzer, has seen time on both the power play and penalty kill. Still a work in progress, Mikus continues to take strides forward in his game.

Jussi Rynnas, G, 24

After an injury plagued and inconsistent first season with the Marlies, it’s looking like more of the same for Jussi Rynnas. After a broken finger that limited his games last season, he suffered a lower-body injury in training camp this season. An opportunity to impress the Marlies coaching staff emerged when Ben Scrivens was recalled to the Maple Leafs, but Rynnas failed to rise to the challenge. He’s played in 11 games with the club, and has a losing record of 4-7 including one shutout. He has a 3.36 goals against average and a .886 save percentage through those games. Rynnas will have to be better in the New Year as he has Mark Owuya chomping at the bit of an AHL position.


Ben Scrivens, G, 25

Ben Scrivens has continued his strong play with the Marlies in his second season. With 33 games under his belt last season, Scrivens will look to add to those numbers as the Marlies starting goaltender. He had a brief stint earlier this season when James Reimer went down to injury, and in those eight games Scrivens was solid in his role. He had a losing record of 2-4-1, but had a respectable 2.96 goals against average and a .904 save percentage. With the Marlies he has a winning record of 6-2 with one shutout. He also has a solid 2.11 goals against average to go with a .924 save percentage. Scrivens proved in a limited sample that he has NHL ability. He’ll look to increase his workload this season as he continues to push for a spot with the parent club.

ECHL

Mark Owuya, G, 22

Seen as a solid number three for the Marlies heading into this season, Mark Owuya‘s stint with the Maple Leafs farm team has shown the club that they have solid depth in the goaltending department. With a stat line that reads 5-2-1, 1.78 goals against average, .936 save percentage and one shutout, it’s surprising to see that he was the goaltender assigned to the Reading Royals (ECHL). However, at 22-years-old, Owuya is the youngest of the three goalies playing in the minors. For Owuya, it’s integral right now for him to acclimate himself to a starters role after coming over from Sweden. With the Royals, Owuya has played in six games, and has a 3-1-2 record to go with a 2.96 goals against average and .926 save percentage.


Dale Mitchell, RW, 22

After a summer of rehab from an ACL injury (which required surgery) suffered last year, Dale Mitchell returned to the Royals lineup on November 19th. A depth forward with the Marlies last year, Mitchell is working his way back up through the ranks to earn another shot at full-time duty for Eakins. So far, he’s done a great job in the scoring department in the ECHL. He’s scored a goal per game in December and has eight goals and two assist in his first 10 games back from injury. Should he keep up his current scoring pace, he should fine his way back into an AHL lineup.