Toronto Marlies Report: A Great Start To The Rebuild


In February, the Toronto Marlies sat as low as 13th place in the Western Conference and well out of a playoff spot. The team rallied in the final months of the AHL regular season and clinched the seventh place playoff berth and some gained experience for the young Marlies players.

Their father team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, were a train wreck this year but the baby Leafs had some great stories behind their solid season.

The success began with the emergence of rookie, and Marlies leading scorer, Connor Brown, who is now on most Maple Leaf fans radar. Coming out of Junior with the Erie Otters, a lot of people believed Brown was a product of generational player Connor McDavid, but with something to prove, the 21 year-old from Toronto did prove his doubters wrong, showing he can help lead a team to the playoffs.

Something else about Brown which will put a smile on Maple Leaf fans faces is he was a sixth-round draft pick of the Maple Leafs in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. He will be a key piece to the rebuild, a first line forward in the minors at 21, he has the potential to become a third line scoring winger or second line winger in the big league. The Maple Leafs should take their time with Brown, let him play a full year with the Marlies again next year and protect him from the Toronto media.

A spark came mid-season when William Nylander, last year’s first round 8th overall draft pick came over from MoDo of the Swedish Elite league to play for the Marlies. Nylander had himself a great year, appearing in 37 games and recording 14 goals and 18 assists for 32 points. He showed improvements in all areas of his game – including his defensive responsibilities. In my eyes, he is NHL ready next year but, hide him from the Toronto media one more year and let him tear up the AHL and get more than five games in playoff experience.

The goaltending for the Marlies this year consisted of yet again, two young kids. Antoine Bibeau, the Val-d’Or Foreurs goalie who stole the show at last year’s CHL Memorial Cup, and second round draft pick of the Los Angeles Kings goalie Christopher Gibson.

Gibson played in 45 regular season games for the Marlies, recording 24 wins and 17 losses for a respectable 2.42 GAA and .921 SV%, while being named the game one starter in the AHL Playoffs. The 22 year-old played won his first two playoff games, but lost the next three, leading to the Marlies losing the series four games to two.

The Marlies other young goalie, Bibeau, played in 31 games and won 15 of them while losing 10 and posting a 2.69 GAA and .913 SV%. He made his playoff debut in game five of the Marlies first round game vs Grand Rapids Griffins and allowed three goals on 39 shots.

The leading scorer for the Marlies during their short playoff run was star defence man TJ Brennan, who recorded three goals and four assists for seven points. Tied for second in scoring were forwards Josh Leivo and Matt Frattin, who each tallied six points and Brown rounded out the top five scoring for the Marlies, where he recorded four points.

The Marlies are still a young team, and they need to begin building and developing through their farm system, which means don’t pull players up to the NHL so soon, let them ease their way and be patient with the development process.

Next: Stuart Percy: Maple Leafs Prospect Ready To Go?

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