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Leafs looking to reload pipeline with free agents

July 30, 2021, 5:24 PM ET [236 Comments]
Mike Augello
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The Toronto Maple Leafs have not seen as many developmental success stories coming from their AHL affiliate since the Toronto Marlies won the Calder Cup and Sheldon Keefe moved up to the NHL in November 2019. A few individuals like 2017 and 2018 first rounders Timothy Liljegren and Rasmus Sandin and 2019 top pick Nick Robertson have shown signs of being potential contributors, but with the dearth of draft picks in 2021 and 2022, Leafs GM Kyle Dubas will be looking to find talent via other avenues.

Defenseman Kristians Rubins earned an NHL contract after developing on an AHL deal for two seasons, former North Bay scoring star Justin Brazeau scored 27 goals for Newfoundland in 2020 and may take the next step with the Marlies next season, and former Moncton winger Jeremy McKenna may earn a longer look after scoring 13 points as a rookie last season.

While the Leafs are adding veterans like Mike Amadio, Brett Seney, Alex Biega and Carl Dahlstrom to give the Marlies some experience and structure to take the pressure off youngsters like 2018 third rounder Semyon Der-Argushintsev and young blueliners Mac Hollowell and Filip Kral, they are also looking to youngsters like free agent Pavel Gogolev, who they signed to a three-year entry-level deal on Thursday.

The 21-year-old Russian scored 45 goals for the OHL’s Guelph Storm in 2020 and after playing in Sweden prior to the American Hockey League returning to action, the left-winger scored 12 points (six goals, six assists) in 13 games for the Marlies. Even though the AHL was severely depleted because of the NHL’s carrying a taxi squad, the Leafs saw signs of potential in a rookie who scored at nearly a point-per-game pace.


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