Toronto Maple Leafs prospects are piling up already.
Since his hiring in late July, new Leafs assistant GM Kyle Dubas has wasted no time in making his mark on the Leafs organization. He seems to have taken over Dave Poulin‘s role as GM of the Toronto Marlies and has initiated several minor league signings. These additions offer the hope of change as the Leafs are building minor league depth to draw upon during the season.
Let’s take a quick look at the newest Marlies.
Patrick Watling – Centre
At 6-0, 172 pounds, and with under a point-per-game last season in Sault Ste. Marie, Watling’s size and stats aren’t outstanding. At all. But, Watling did win the Roger Neilson award for being the top academic OHL player last season, showing his general smarts. It’s possible that might somehow translate to the action on the ice. He also played for Kyle Dubas (who managed the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds last season), so if Dubas pursued him, it’s likely that Watling is a desirable character to have in a dressing room as well.
Brett Findlay – Left Wing
The 6-0, 189 pound left winger is a 21-year-old scorer who was just under a point-per-game pace last season in the ECHL. Though his scoring touch is growing, Findlay most likely owes his contract to his direct connection to Dubas… Findlay, like Watling, played for the Greyhounds under Dubas’ watch.
Much like Patrick Watling, Findlay is a young pro with some history of scoring success. Best of all, he’s another low-risk/potential reward skater who can help fill out the depth chart for the Marlies.
Mickey Lang – Centre
Lang is a 5-9, 185 pound offensive centre who scored more than a point-per-game in the ECHL last season and finished the year in the AHL with the Iowa Stars. With his past success as a goal scorer and pro hockey pedigree, Lang will certainly be relied on to pick up the slack for the Marlies who graduate to the NHL next season. Sadly, he’s 28-years-old, so he’s likely reached his upside already.
Denver Manderson – Centre
Manderson matches the other recent signings. He’s a 5-10, 170 pound skater who has scored more than a point-per-game in the ECHL and has pro experience in the AHL with the Pittsburgh Penguins’ minor league squad. He is reputed as a defensive forward and faceoff specialist, so his role with the Marlies next season is clear. Think, minor league Jay McClement.
As the season progresses, the success of these four skaters will be an interesting measure of Dubas’ skill identification smarts. However, for now, Leafs fans will likely find it comforting to know that the new culture of the Toronto Maple Leafs includes stockpiling prospect depth at the minor league level. Dubas has taken no risks at all and these long-shot lottery tickets may one day make their mark in the NHL.
I like this Dubas fellow already.