Monday, September 30, 2019

Why The Dubas Model Will Lend To More AHL & ECHL Titles Enroute to The Stanley Cup

The Maple Leafs model is very clear. The majority of their money is spent on their top six forwards. This cap crunch has an amazing and interesting trickle down effect to the Toronto Marlies and Newfoundland Growlers.

Unless you are living under a rock, you are well aware of the high profile, high paid players in the Leafs top six forward group. This has created an odd situation Leafs fans have never seen before and better get very accustomed to.

For the foreseeable future, the bottom six forward group will be rounded out with as many league minimum contracts as possible. This will serve two purposes:

1) Obviously, it will keep the leafs within the salary cap.

2) It will enable Dubas and company to keep draft prospects in the minors as long as humanly possible to avoid burning years off entry level contracts (ELC). Players will only need to be brought to the big club for 20+ games when they are good and NHL ready. A player on an ELC will need to truly stand out among his peers in order to break the Toronto roster, ie Rasmus Sandin.

So what effect does this have on the Marlies and Growlers?

Well i'm glad you asked!

It's hard to argue that the likes of Jeremy Bracco and Dmytro Timashov are not NHL ready. They truly are. However, unless they are ready to make a big impact on the Leafs club, they will simply stay in the minors, developing their game and logging more minutes than they would as a fringe NHLer.

Furthermore, just like in this years Leafs preseason, multiple player will be signed to league minimum contracts in hopes of cracking the Leafs bottom six. All of these players are proven to be NHL ready, it is often just a matter of timing, luck, and approval from the coaching staff. In the huge shuffle that is preseason waivers, many cable NHL players in the Leafs organization will find their way to the Marlies. Just recently forwards Pontus Aberg and Tyler Gaudet and defencemen Ben Harpur and Jordan Schmaltz all cleared waivers and have been assigned to the Toronto Marlies. These players have all been proven to be serviceable at the NHL level at some capacity in pervious seasons and will certainly contribute or even dominate at the AHL level.

As further training camp cuts come and more players are waived to the Marlies, what effect can we expect this glut of top end AHL talent to have on the Newfoundland Growlers? Well the proof is in the puddling from last season my friends. Look no further then young prospect standouts such as Semyon Der-Arguchintsev (SDA) and Hudson Elynuik.  

SDA, albeit for only 3 games played, spent time with the Growlers as an 18 year old after his junior season with the Peterborough Petes ended in 2019. With no room on a stacked Marlies team at the time, it was nice for a player of his talent, skill & potential to get a chance to train with men in a pro hockey setting. Growlers fans got a glimpse of a future pro player and SDA got to hone his skills at the pro level. This has already paid dividends as he is off to a torrid pace with the Petes this season putting up 8 points in his first 3 games.

Hudson Elynuik, on the other hand, as a 21 year old needed to cut his teeth in pro hockey. Toronto recognized his ability and potential but did not have room for the youngster to break in as a full time pro with the Marlies. Enter the ECHL expansion Newfoundland Growlers. Elynuik spent the majority of the season with the Growlers and was a hugely impactful player enroute to their Kelly Cup championship.

The Growlers should expect to see more of this trickle down effect as the Leafs/Marlies will want to see guys with potential gain more ice time in the Growlers top 6 then in in the Marlies bottom six or press box.

The Leafs organization is in a very good place right now and in very good hands with two pro championships in the past two years already. While Dubas has his eye firmly on the big prize, the trickle down effect only serves to build stronger teams and a stronger organization.

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