One of the Toronto Maple Leafs brightest prospects on the Toronto Marlies has now been passed by on multiple call-up opportunities. This begs the question, “Will Joseph Duszak ever get his chance?”
Joseph Duszak is the star offensive defenseman on the Toronto Marlies this season. He currently leads the Toronto Marlies with 19 points in 17 games which is an amazing feat for a defenseman. (Stats from EliteProspects.com)
Duszak is only one point back of the AHL point lead for defensemen. He is currently the highest scoring defenseman in the AHL though as Scott Perunovich (20 points) has been called up by the St. Louis Blues and has played in 14 NHL games this season.
Jospeh Duszak was signed by the Toronto Maple Leafs as an undrafted free agent after he put up 16 goals and 47 point sin 37 games for the NCAA‘s Mercyhurst University during the 2018-19 season. He is now playing in his fourth season with the Toronto Marlies.
Why Haven’t the Toronto Maple Leafs Called Up Joseph Duszak?
Despite Joseph Duszak’s phenomenal play, the Toronto Maple Leafs have elected to call up Kristiāns Rubīns, Alex Biega and Carl Dahlström since Rasmus Sandin and Travis Dermott went down with injuries last week.
Duszak shouldn’t be too concerned with this development – both Sandin and Dermott are left hand shots, and Duszak is a righty. With Brodie, Holl and Liljegren all healthy, the Leafs needed a left-side defender to replace their injured players.
In addition, Rubīns, Biega and Dahlström haven’t had the offensive flare of Duszak this season (they each have four points), but they were most likely called up over Duszak because of their strong defensive play.
Kristiāns Rubīns (6’4) was the first to get his chance with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and though he didn’t manage to contribute to the scoreboard, he did have 12 hits during his three game stint. To put that in perspective, he has as many hit in three games as T.J. Brodie has in his 29 games. Rubīns is even close to Kyle Clifford’s total of 15 hits which took him seven games.
Rubīns played well considering it was his first NHL stint, but he was caught out of position and lost some foot races which really showed during his last game against the Chicago Blackhawks. It was most likely those mistakes that result in his return to the Marlies and Dahlström’s call-up.
Alex Biega will most likely get the next opportunity to suit up for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was called up at the same time as Rubīns, but has watched the last three games from the press box. Biega (33 years old) has 241 games of NHL experience and has basically been a seventh defenseman his entire NHL career with the Vancouver Canucks and Detroit Red Wings.
Carl Dahlström (26 years old) has been an NHL/AHL tweener for the passed three seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks and Winnipeg Jets. He was most likely called up as a seventh defenseman to travel with the Toronto Maple Leafs during their upcoming four game western road trip in case they suffer more injuries on defense.
Joseph Duszak isn’t known for his defensive abilities, and defensively reliable defenseman might be what the Toronto Maple Leafs need the most right now. He has shown great improvement over the last few seasons and hopefully he will get his NHL opportunity soon.
If the Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t going to give Joseph Duszak an opportunity soon, they may use him as trade bait around the trade deadline. At 24 years old, he’s not going to be considered a fresh prospect for much longer and after this season, he’s an RFA with arbitration rights. He may have reached his peak trade value as a Toronto Maple Leaf.