The Toronto Maple Leafs have sent down two of their talented rookies to the American Hockey League, presumably so they can rejoin the Toronto Marlies prior to the AHL playoffs.
The first, 22-year-old Russian winger Nikita Soshnikov, has been a favorite of coach Mike Babcock, who praised his work ethic on a Maple Leafs team that lacked drive and offense. He has spent 11 games with the NHL club, potting two goals and adding three assists. While he does have a minus-4 rating, that likely has as much to do with the Maple Leafs well-known issues in net as it does his own play.
In the AHL, Soshnikov is expected to resume producing at a much higher rate, as he’ll be rejoining some other impressive prospects, like Brendan Leipsic and Zach Hyman. With the Marlies, Soshnikov has put up 28 points in 50 games (18 goals, 10 assists), and has a plus-24 rating.
The other rookie, Swedish defenseman Viktor Loov, has only played in four games with the Maple Leafs this season, logging a mere 10:28 of ice time – 6th defender status. However, he has earned two assists, and has a plus-4 rating in that time, along with eight hits and one block.
Only 23, Loov’s numbers in the AHL aren’t particularly impressive, but he still has potential to improve. In 53 games with the Marlies, he has three goals and 12 assists for fifteen points, and a plus-13 rating. He’s also racked up 40 penalty minutes.
The Marlies are the number one team in the AHL’s North Division, and have already clinched their playoff spot. They’re expected to go on a run for the AHL’s top prize, the Calder Cup, as next year, most of their young guns will be full-time NHL players.