Roughly two years ago today, the Toronto Maple Leafs AHL affilate, Toronto Marlies won their first ever Calder Cup Championship.
This was a big deal for the city, as the Marlies victory was the first professional hockey championship since the Toronto Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup back in 1967.
As we reminisce on a magical time when you were allowed in rinks and could watch hockey live, it’s not the championship that sticks out, as much as the players who were apart of it.
14 players from that championship team went onto to play at least one game with the Toronto Maple Leafs, while nine are still a key piece in the daily success of the team.
AHL Success is Bound To Translate at the NHL-Level
Those nine players that are still with the Leafs today, or will be making an impact in the near future are the following:
- Andreas Johnsson
- Calle Rosen
- Martin Marincin
- Pierre Engvall
- Frederick Gauthier
- Adam Brooks
- Justin Holl
- Timothy Liljegren
- Travis Dermott
Above-Average: Andreas Johnsson, Travis Dermott
Johnsson and Dermott are two players from that Marlies championship team that can make a real impact with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
I mean, if it wasn’t for the two of them coming back to play for the Marlies in Game 5 of the First Round, it’s quite possible that the Marlies never would have won a championship in the first place. Johnsson was unbelievable during the championship run and was a well-deserving MVP of the playoffs, while Dermott’s skating ability and skill couldn’t be touched at the AHL-level.
High-Potential: Pierre Engvall, Adam Brooks, Timothy Liljegren
When the Marlies won a Calder Cup, Engvall, Brooks and Liljegren were all rookies in the AHL.
Engvall was a late-season addition to the Marlies from Sweden, while Brooks and Liljegren had been with the club since training camp. Brooks was definitely struggling at the start of the season, but played a key role for the Marlies down the stretch and for their playoff run.
Liljegren was a second-pair or bottom-pair defenseman with the Marlies but held his own as an 18-year-old rookie.
We Know Who They Are: Martin Marincin, Frederick Gauthier, Justin Holl, Calle Rosen
People like to hate on Martin Marincin because he typically only scores a goal every 365 days, but he’s not a bad seventh defenseman on your roster.
Gauthier’s skating ability has gotten much better throughout the years, but he seems set on being a fourth-line player for his career teetering on being sent down to the AHL.
Rosen, who was recently acquired by the Leafs, has shown hope that he can be a top-six defenseman, but he’s most likely a very high-quality career AHL defenseman, while Justin Holl took a huge stride this year, turning into an everyday NHLer.
The biggest takeaway from looking back at the 2018 Marlies roster is to remember that this was only two years ago.
Critics point to Liljegren and wonder why he hasn’t cracked the Leafs roster yet, but it’s always forgotten that he’s only 21-years-old.
Comparatively, the two biggest names on the Leafs chopping block are Travis Dermott and Andreas Johnsson, yet they’re only two years removed from playing in the AHL. Dermott has only played 157 NHL games, while it’s known that 300 games is where a defenseman truly starts to understand the NHL game, and Johnsson already has a 20-goal season and has only played 1.5 seasons with the Leafs.
We have to remind ourselves that a large percentage of the Leafs were playing with the Marlies very recently, so we shouldn’t be expecting the world from them, but instead be patient.
Without hockey for another two months, we’re all going to be getting very comfortable with the word patience.