TORONTO – Notably, a busy off-season for the Baby Buds in the summer of 2021. The Toronto Marlies have been stacking and re-shifting a lineup that performed mediocre last season, placing fifth in the Canadian circuit. Ahead of the 2021-22 season, the Marlies will be staring down new opponents, equally up to the task as the team that stands before them.
Last Season in Review
Record: 16-17-2, 5th, Canadian Division
Season Summary: A team that started unknowing of the terror that waited for them on the East side of Canada, the Marlies struggled in the first bout out west. Coming home with a 4-4-0 record against Manitoba and Stockton (Calgary), the Marlies were parked next to two highly skilled teams in Belleville and Laval. The month of April brought all showers for the club, and May’s flowers didn’t bloom right, at one point losing nine of 10 games in a row.
Leading scorer: Kalle Kossila – 7 goals, 22 assists, 29 points
Goals For: 111 (9th)
Goals Against: 117 (7th)
Power Play: 16.2% (22nd)
Penalty Kill: 82.1% (11th)
Josh Ho-Sang: After spending last season in Europe, the 25-year-old is returning to North American ice in his hometown, Toronto. Drafted 28th in 2014 by the Islanders, expectations for Ho-Sang were high for the OHL prospect. Now with reported issues in the locker room, this could be the time for a fresh re-start for Ho-Sang. In his last AHL season, he registered four goals and nine assists through 22 games.
Marc Michaelis: Minnesota State University prospect had promising numbers while playing in the NCAA. Last season, he got a swing at playing in the NHL Canadian bubble with the Canucks, where he had solid looks through 15 games but didn’t register a point. For the 26-year old, a position on the Marlies could do good for the development of the speedy German.
Nic Petan: A stinger of a loss for the Marlies in Petan, Toronto seemingly never had a position for the BC native. Moving closer to home in Vancouver, Petan had fantastic vision through the neutral zone, and his offensive awareness was right beside it. Split between NHL and AHL for his tenure in the 6ix, there’s no doubt he will be regular with the Canucks.
Kenny Agostino: A regular starter for Toronto, Agostino never really had a shot at playing for the Leafs and was demoted from his previous NHL roles to AHL. After playing 75 games, Agostino marked the score sheet 71 times. Now with Nizhny Novgorod Torpedo, he’s continuing his pace in the KHL.
I want to break free…
Since playing last season in a Canadian circuit, the Marlies will play teams from across the Canadian/U.S. border for the first time since March 2020. This season, they’ll be in a North Divison with four other American teams, including their first U.S. opponent in Rochester, on October 23rd.
Toronto is set to play Abbotsford four times this season. This will be the first time the Baby Buds have squared off against Toronto since moving to Utica in 2013. Their first contest takes place on March 2nd.
Dunder Mifflin, This is Pam
This year, the Marlies will square off against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. These two haven’t met since the 2018-19 season, dating back to March. Last season, the Penguins recorded a 13-13-6 record, similar to the Marlies 16-17-2. They’ll face each other in Pennsylvania in January.
Storylines for 2020-21:
Youngsters Getting a Shot:
This year more than previous, the Marlies are looking more and more to their younger players for positions. The team has slowly grown into a fast-paced team, which can move pucks up and down the ice in a speedy fashion. How they’ll do putting pucks on the net will be an interesting but exciting look.
Veteran Leadership is Back:
With Rich Clune being sent down to the AHL recently, Clune will take his place once again as leader of the Marlies. Well known for his presence in the locker room, veteran guidance will go a long way for the young Marlies team this year.
Prediction to Go Right
It’ll be another year of backlogs in the Crease for Toronto. Like previous years, the Maple Leafs had a shopping spree of NHL backups and AHL starters. In doing that, it’ll be an exciting year for the defensive end for Toronto.
Prediction to Go Wrong
Marlies make the playoffs. Not sure if the team has gotten significantly better than in previous years, including last season. It’ll be a rocky road to Dublin if the team looks as lost as they did last season.
How will the Marlies fare this season? Will they find themselves on the outside looking in at the playoff bracket, become a victim of the league’s new playoff format, go deep in the playoffs, or win the Calder Cup? Let us know your thoughts.
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