Despite some shaky play from young netminders Ben Scrivens and James Reimer so far, the Toronto Maple Leafs have a 3-3 record for the 2013 season. A change in management has given young players a chance to get a better look with the NHL club than in previous seasons, and so far they are making the most of their opportunity.
With Phil Kessel still not producing, Nazem Kadri (three goals, six points) and Matt Frattin (three goals, five points) have stepped in to lead the way. The team recalled AHL All-Star Classic MVP Ryan Hamilton on Thursday, and he could see action against the Washington Capitals. Despite a great 2011-12 season with the Toronto Marlies (25 goals, 51 points), the Leafs only recalled him for two games. Hopefully things have changed and the 27-year-old winger gets a longer look this season. In 38 AHL games, he has 18 goals and 27 points and had a hat trick in Monday’s All-Star Classic.
Kadri has bounced between the Marlies and Maple Leafs for the past two season, and had yet to prove he could be a consistent scorer at the NHL level. He is on pace to change that this season and may have finally earned himself a full-time NHL job. Frattin spent more time with the Maple Leafs than the Marlies last season, putting up 18 points as an AHL rookie and 15 points in 56 games for the Leafs. He is thriving in the NHL this season, and had the game-winning goal against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday. If these young players continue their hot streaks, the team will face a tough decision when regulars like Joffrey Lupul are ready to return. For now, their best course of action is to embrace the youth movement, and let these prospects show what a couple seasons in the AHL has done for their development.