Coming off a big win over the Rockford Ice Hogs in front of a capacity crowd at Ricoh Colosseum on Saturday, the Toronto Marlies are flying high.
They are currently in the first place in the Western Conference and in second place overall in the American Hockey League. They had an outstanding month of December that rocketed them to the top of the standings. The Marlies have certainly done a great job of building upon their success from last season. But early Sunday morning news broke that the NHL and the NHLPA had finally agreed on the framework of a new CBA.
NHL fans everywhere rejoiced, but more than likely there was mixed feels around the AHL. The Marlies in particular will look a little bit different once the NHL season gets underway. Training camps are set to open shortly as reports indicate the season will begin on or around January 19. Obviously, there was always the possibility that the NHL would commence again but no one could blame the Marlies for enjoying the lockout because it provided them with top quality players.
Perhaps the position most effected by the lockout ending is goaltending. Ben Scrivens has enjoyed a solid season in net for the Marlies, posting 14 wins in 22 games, a 2.22 goals against average and .917 save percentage. Assuming the Toronto Maple Leafs do not trade for another goalie, Scrivens will be in the mix with James Reimer for the number one goaltending spot. Jussi Rynnas has five wins on the year and a sparkling 1.81 goals against average and will likely assume the role as starting goalie when Scrivens is called up. The Marlies will need to bring in a back-up and that could possibly be Mark Owuya, who has appeared in four games this season.
On defense, the Maple Leafs will probably want a look at Korbinian Holzer and Jesse Blacker. Despite his injury, Jake Gardiner will likely find himself in the NHL at some point when he becomes healthy. At forward, there’s a good chance all of Nazem Kadri, Joe Colborne, Carter Ashton, Matt Frattin and Jerry D’Amigo will get a chance to make the Leafs.
At this point there’s no way of knowing for sure who the Marlies will lose but the NHL getting underway will have an impact on the Toronto Marlies. They aren’t caught off guard, as they knew the possibility of an NHL season was always looming, and the team will still have guys like Mike Zigomanis, Will Acton, Kenny Ryan and captain Ryan Hamilton among others. Yes, such is the life of an AHL team.
The stability of the roster is always in question, but the Marlies are a strong team. There will be change, but the solid group of AHL veterans should be able to whether that storm and keep on trucking.