TORONTO – With the 2019-20 AHL season on pause, the time is right to look back and assess the Toronto Marlies campaign so far. The Marlies’ year has been nothing short of a rollercoaster, including (but not limited to) three different coaching tandems for Toronto since October. Just as students get a report card at the end of their school term, I’ve compiled grades for the Marlies squad from 2019-20.
KASIMIR KASKISUO: A-
Riding off a hot playoff performance last year, Kaskisuo had something to prove while he was with the Marlies. The Finish goaltender began the crusade strong by coming out of the gate hard: Kaskisuo posted a 0.927 SVS % through his first nine games, quickly becoming the reason Toronto could stay in and win games. Critics will be quick to point out that he wasn’t the same goalie from the start, but in his defense, Kaksisuo is someone who has seen many changes around him (including a significant hit on the defensive end).
Rapid fire? No problem – @Kaskisuo #AHLAllStar #ForeverStartsHere pic.twitter.com/phnU83L3m3
— Toronto Marlies (@TorontoMarlies) January 27, 2020
KENNY AGOSTINO: A-
Agostino has quickly turned into a leader for the Toronto Marlies. His specialty? The power play. Scoring nine power play goals through the term, he not only displayed he could collect on the special teams but five-on-five as well, firing home an additional 18 even-strength goals. Shooting near 20%, he could have easily made a case for a Leafs spot had the NHL team been not so strong.
Kenny Agostino and Matt Read answer some rapid fire questions in the latest edition of Between 2 Marlies ⬇️
Full episode » https://t.co/F5k5paCeXO#ForeverStartsHere pic.twitter.com/W1LxWTafo9
— Toronto Marlies (@TorontoMarlies) March 10, 2020
JEREMY BRACCO: A-
Who can complain about a skater who scored 34 points in 44 games? But what if I told you he’s only scored four goals? Bracco is a tough case, but can easily be named as one of the best passers in the league. With a shooting percentage at 14.5%, his struggles haven’t entirely been from how he shoots the puck, it’s from not being effective enough when he does decide to.
It’s hard to knock the guy, but his confidence needs to blossom for the Marlies. He’s proven he can score when the team needs him. With the Baby Buds having one of the lowest shot counts in the league, Toronto was eager to throw pucks at the net, something Jeremy could have assisted in.
Jeremy Bracco circling pylons at the AHL SuperSkills. Look at those edges.
? – @TSN_Sports #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/mnLLdYo6uZ
— Josh Tessler (@JoshTessler_) January 27, 2020
TYLER GAUDET: C
Measuring 6’3 and weighing 217 lbs, Gaudet wasn’t able to entirely bloom for the Marlies this season. Posting a minus-13 and only four goals in 58 games, Gaudet failed to find the net when he got the chance and often didn’t look the part when skating with a young & fast Marlies club.
Having more PIM that points, Tyler produced his worst shooting percentage since his 2016-17, averaging south of 6%. The upside? He’s an AHL vet who’s been around the American League for over six seasons. His physical presence helped combat the other team’s force, especially when they played rougher teams like Syracuse or Charlotte.
PONTUS ABERG: B
Is experience priceless in hockey? Aberg played in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs for the Nashville Predators in their deep postseason run. For Aberg — I said it in September and October — if he was on any other team, there’s no doubt in my mind he would have a shot at being on an active NHL roster (or at the least a stable healthy scratch).
This season, though, there was a missing drive from Pontus — he wanted a roster spot, but couldn’t find himself a hole for it. Aberg was able to produce a fair amount of goals, but according to reports from the locker room, his ego topped his play. These inside sources have expressed to The Sin Bin that Pontus feels he’s ready for the NHL, and the Maple Leafs aren’t willing to give him that shot.
And the GWG, courtesy of Pontus Aberg ⤵️#MarliesLive pic.twitter.com/XK3SZwn7rq
— Toronto Marlies (@TorontoMarlies) November 30, 2019
TEEMU KIVIHALME: B
Teemu played his first season with the Marlies after playing two seasons of professional hockey in Finland. The kicker is he’s an SM-Liiga Champion and a silver medalist in the same league in his second season with the Finnish squad. His plus-minus is close to even (dropping close to 20 digits from last season), but his lasers from the point have been able to challenge the goaltender successfully. With a prominent transition to professional North American hockey, it would be fair to label him as an asset for the 2020-21 season.
TIMOTHY LILJEGREN: A
What more can you say about the play of Timothy Liljegren? He contributed 30 points on the season (25 of those being assists), but that plays as a sidebar story. What makes headlines for me is his defensive ability. Like most Marlies, he is running a near even plus-minus rating, but that doesn’t paint the complete picture. Liljegren is a player that you won’t see caught in the offensive zone, and you’ll find him back in the defensive zone looking for an outlet pass.
Though he spent some time in the NHL this season, he played a significant role in many of the Marlies wins through the season. Right now, it remains unclear whether or not Toronto will have him on their roster or not. What I can say right now is that whoever he plays for next season, that team will improve their roster on the defensive end.
WHAT’S TRENDING ON TWITTER
Full statement from AHL President and CEO David Andrews on the passing of Walter Robb: pic.twitter.com/JE9xAPPjzS
— AHL Communications (@AHLPR) March 23, 2020
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