As we get ready for the the 2014-15 season, it may be time to get yourself reacquainted with your team’s minor league affiliates and what could be in store for your team should they need a call-up or two. I’ll go through them team by team in hopes that this enlightens some people to their affiliate teams. Today is a little bit of a short trip, as we profile the affiliates of the Toronto Maple Leafs; located in Toronto, Ontario and Orlando, Florida.
Affiliate Since: 2005-06
Distance From Parent Team (Arena to Arena): 2 miles
Last Season: 45-25-2-4, 1st in North Division, 3rd in Western Conference
After a solid season and taking home their third straight North Division title, the Marlies swept the first two series in the playoffs, eventually losing to the Calder Cup champion Texas Stars in a thrilling seven-game series.
Surprisingly enough, the team was lead by defenseman TJ Brennan, who lead the team in points, goals, and power play goals; which allowed him to win the Eddie Shore Award for most outstanding defenseman, which is interesting considering his minus-10; the second worst on the team. Stuart Percy and Korbinan Holzer where a little bit more consistent in their own end and made up for the Brennan mishaps that may have happened.
Up front, Spencer Abbott was the set-up man with 52 assists on the season, while Josh Leivo and Jerry D’Amigo were the two 20-goal scorers on the Marlies roster. The power play was solidly distributed out with Greg McKegg, Carter Ashton, Trevor Smith, Leivo, Brennan, and Abbott all had five or more power play goals on the season.
In net, Drew MacIntyre shouldered most of the load and being second in the AHL in wins with 29 in his 48 appearances. During his spot duty, Garret Sparks went 11-6-1 in 21 games, provided an adequate back-up work; with rookie Christopher Gibson getting into 12 games on the season, but was only able to garner five wins in his tenure last season.
Leading Scorers: TJ Brennan (25g, 47a), Spencer Abbott (17g, 52a), Greg McKegg (19g, 28a)
Possible Frequent Flyers: When given the chance to let someone who is more apt with a team, I outsource it out to them, which is why I turned to the Mysterious and Handsome Stranger of Pension Plan Puppets for his input. I was alerted that Stuart Percy and Tom Nilsson will be the guys who will be shuttled to and from. The big deal that PPP mention was that if Brandon Kozun is able to stick with the team; Greg McKegg, Carter Ashton, and Sam Carrick are going to be the most likely candidates to be called across the way in order to be the next Leaf.
Outlook: With a young goaltending tandem, the Marlies could see themselves dealing with Sparks and Gibson and their learning curves. Also, with Brennan being off the roster, there’s going to be more chances for Leivo and Abbott to step up their offensive game. This will be a season for proving themselves for the likes of Andrew MacWilliam, as he will be under a microscope to see if he’s worth the time being put into them in the minors.
ORLANDO SOLAR BEARS
Affiliate Since: 2013-14
Distance From Parent Team (Arena to Arena): 1,280 miles
Last Season: 43-24-2-5, 2nd in South Division, 4th in Eastern Conference
After being acquired from Fort Wayne, Mickey Lang contributed big to the Solar Bears with 27 goals and 51 points in 37 games with Orlando, as well as adding 13 power play goals. Jacob Cepis was part of the secondary scoring with 20 goals and 56 points, with rookie Taylor Matson contributing 43 points in only 39 games.
The goaltending was interesting with eight goalies being used including Garret Sparks and Christopher Gibson, but Cory Reichard making the most of it with a 13-4-1 record, despite having a 3.04 GAA. John Curry also put up some numbers with a 10-2-0 record in his tenure with Orlando. On defense, Blake Kessel contributed well with seven goals and 35 points after coming from Bakersfield, with Cody Wild being a solid contributor in his own zone.
Leading Scorers: Jacob Cepis (20g, 36a), Mickey Lang (27g, 24a), Taylor Matson (18g, 25a)
Possible Frequent Flyers: There’s going to be a good look at Cepis from AHL teams, who will be looking to get a lot of scoring in to improve his stock. Defenseman Gleason Fournier will be able to get some looks after he had some AHL experience in him already.
Outlook: With a big turnover, the Solar Bears will be looking at new sources of offense, specifically lead by Cepis. Brock Montgomery coming into the fold will bring something to the Solar Bears, especially with a leadership quality he brought from his time in the WHL. Kent Patterson is coming over from the Central League for his first turn at the ECHL and will be looking to prove himself with higher competition around him.