The Toronto Maple Leafs finished their 2015-16 season in dead last, but prospects like Garret Sparks, William Nylander, and TJ Brennan haven’t seen their own spring campaigns end just yet.
The Leafs confirmed on Sunday afternoon that Sparks, Nylander, and Brennan had all been reassigned back to the AHL’s Toronto Marlies, along with Freddie Gauthier, Tobias Lindberg, Sam Carrick, and Andrew Campbell. The six skaters and one goaltender will report to the Marlies for the end of their spring season, which will see them enter the 2016 post-season as the first seed in the league.
Campbell will resume his captaincy of the Marlies, where he’s had a successful year after spending time in the AHL and NHL the year prior with the Arizona Coyotes. He and Brennan will help round out the minor league team’s blue line, while Gauthier, Carrick, Lindberg, and Nylander will look to boost scoring from the offensive corps.
The most intriguing of the reassignments, of course, will likely be Garret Sparks. The former seventh round draft selection went from starting in the ECHL in the 2014-15 campaign to starting for the NHL’s Leafs midway through his 2015-16 year, after poor performances and injuries saw both James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier unable to play at times.
He was the Marlies’ best starter during his time with the minor league club, recording three shutouts and a .925 save percentage in all situations – but the Leafs already have both Antoine Bibeau and Kasimir Kaskisuo in the AHL as well, and had to send home Alex Stalock with all the crowding already in net. The team’s deployment of goaltenders in the post-season should be interesting, if anything, although it wouldn’t be surprising to see Sparks get the lion’s share of starts regardless.