The Toronto Maple Leafs have a certain advantage as an organization: their name value. That is the likely reason guys like Joseph Blandisi and Josh Ho-Sang are willing to play in the AHL for the Marlies.
When you look at Ho-Sang and Blandisi, it’s a little bit surprising that they’re willing to play at the AHL level, the latter not even on a full contract, rather he’s still inked to a try-out deal. And yet, both are willing to do so for a shot at playing with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Blandisi has 101 NHL games to his name, mostly with the New Jersey Devils. Ho-Sang is a bit more of an enigma, with plenty of skill to his game, but he never made it stick with just 53 NHL games with the New York Islanders.
Perhaps this speaks to a slight competitive advantage the Toronto Maple Leafs have, with players wanting to play within the organization.
Easy depth for the Toronto Maple Leafs
Perhaps the biggest bonus of having guys with decent NHL experience playing on the Toronto Marlies is that the Toronto Maple Leafs have NHL-ready depth in their system.
Of course, with the cases of Ho-Sang and Blandisi, neither are on contracts that would allow instant call-up to the Leafs, but certainly having them already within the organization might make the process of inking them to NHL deals that little bit easier.
This season, Josh Ho-Sang has been able to revive his fortunes in Toronto, even earning himself a call-up to the Canadian Olympic team.
What he can offer the Maple Leafs is another skill player, and though the Leafs are deep on the wings, the Leafs are a team who will put skilled players low in the lineup, which gives him an outside shot at making the team at some point, if circumstances allow.
He projects, per Elite Prospects, to have a 24-goal, 44-point season in the AHL and you’d imagine would be willing to sign a near league-minimum deal for another shot in the NHL, especially one in the blue-and-white.
Having that sort of option currently inked to an AHL deal, not costing an NHL contract, is a massive advantage. If all else fails in terms of adding useful trade pieces, the Leafs can sign Ho-Sang to an NHL deal and have another option available to them.
The scenario with Joseph Blandisi is even more perplexing. The Toronto Marlies announced his professional try-out agreement back in mid-December and so far as any reporting goes, he remains on that deal.
With 101 NHL games under his belt, he looks to be a depth NHL player at best. Perhaps the ongoing try-out nature of his contract is the result of some sort of gentleman’s agreement to allow him to showcase his game.
Perhaps, it’s a signing made to a) improve the Marlies depth but b) with every intention of adding him to the Toronto Maple Leafs roster when other contract and salary moves allow them to do so.
Per Elite Prospects, he’s projecting a 20-goal, 49-point year in the AHL, so certainly he’s doing everything he can to highlight himself as a viable NHL depth option.
It’s a nice problem the Toronto Maple Leafs find themselves with; having viable NHL depth inked to AHL contracts, giving maximum flexibility while keeping the players close enough to the organisation to be useful.