Marcus Power – C/WEmbed from Getty Images
Marcus Power skates against the Gatineau Olympiques back in his tenure in the QMJHL. (Photo by Francois Laplante/FreestylePhoto/Getty Images)
Marcus Power should be a familiar name if you’ve followed the Newfoundland Growlers recently. Power was the Growlers’ first-ever signing, and the St. John’s native had a great season there. The winger/centre had 57 points in 58 games, tying for 5th in ECHL rookie scoring. Power is 25 and will turn 26 very soon, so he’s significantly older than the rest of the rookie core that helped the Growlers to their first Kelly Cup. Last season, he was on an ECHL deal, so he didn’t see any time with the Marlies. I have Power currently penned down as the 4th or 5th best LW on the Marlies, meaning he’ll likely get a chance to get a full-time role, assuming the Marlies don’t sign many other people.
Sergei Sapego – DEmbed from Getty Images
Sergei Sapego (then of the Prince Albert Raiders) delivers a big hit to Conner Chaulk (then of the Calgary Hitmen). (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
Sergei Sapego comes in as an interesting new addition to the organization. Sapego didn’t have a great draft season, but the defenseman emerged in his D+1 season. His 43 points in 58 games put him at 19th in the Western Hockey League for scoring by a defenseman. The Belarusian left-handed defenseman will make for a very intriguing young addition to the organization. He was projected by some to go in the 7th round of the last two NHL drafts, but in the end, he’s gone undrafted. Honestly, I see a lot of comparisons to current Marlie, Kristians Rubins. Both played two seasons in the WHL after coming over from Europe, both are LDs who went undrafted even after being projected to be drafted. Rubins played the season in Newfoundland but found playing time in Toronto. Sapego will likely find himself in a similar scenario, starting the season off in Newfoundland. It’ll be interesting to see how the 19-year-old develops, and he could become a fairly good player one day.
Maxim Zhukov – GEmbed from Getty Images
Zhukov makes as save during an OHL game against the Niagara IceDogs, during his time as a Barrie Colt. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Maxim Zhukov may very well have the highest ceiling out of this group of players. Two years ago, the goaltender was drafted in the 4th round by the Vegas Golden Knights. That year, he split the net with a 19-year-old David Hrenak, who is currently a prospect in the Los Angeles Kings system. He finished the season 2nd in save percentage (SV%), among all Under-18 goaltenders in the USHL. He also backstopped Russia to World Juniors Bronze. From there, it’s gone downhill. Zhukov had a decent season the next year, with the starting job in Green Bay. He had a SV% of .909, which was pretty solid. He started last season in Barrie of the Ontario Hockey League, but a .900 SV% saw him lose the net to two younger goalies. He went back to Green Bay, but a disastrous .882 SV% showing had the soon to be 20-year-old split the net with multiple goalies. Zhukov has potential, and goalies really are voodoo. The Marlies are banking on him to return to form. He’ll likely play the backup role in Newfoundland, behind whichever one of Kasimir Kaskisuo, Joseph Woll, and Ian Scott are sent down.
Darren Archibald – RWEmbed from Getty Images
Darren Archibald #25 of the Utica Comets battles with now-teammate Andreas Borgman, and goalie Jeff Glass, against the team he will soon suit up for, the Toronto Marlies. (Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images)
Darren Archibald is a surprisingly good signing in my opinion. The best way I could describe him to Marlies fans would be if Tom Sestito could score. He’s well known for being a tough goon-like player with his hits. Archibald’s skill isn’t limited to gritty play though, his 33 points in 51 games at the AHL level last season is an impressive point total for the physical player. The 29-year-old has worked his way up from the ECHL level to appear in the NHL, where he’s had 14 points in 52 games in Vancouver, with an additional three scoreless games in Ottawa. The former alternate captain of the Utica Comets will provide a scoring and veteran presence to the Marlies. He’ll replace the locker room holes left by Chris Mueller, Vincent LoVerde, and Colin Greening. I have Archibald down as the 3rd line right winger for the Marlies, behind prospects Yegor Korshkov and Jeremy Bracco.
Michael Kapla – DEmbed from Getty Images
Michael Kapla (then of the New Jersey Devils) fights off Tom Kuhnhackl (then of the Pittsburgh Penguins). (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Michael Kapla is an interesting signing to me. The undrafted defenseman capped his NCAA career with five games with the New Jersey Devils, going scoreless. He’s spent the last two seasons in the AHL, where he’s done pretty well. In his rookie season, he had 21 points in 63 games. Last season, he had 24 points in 66 games. Kapla is known for being a good playmaker, and we’ve seen glimpses of it already. The Marlies want the 24-year-old to try to carry more of his college success to the pro level. The defenseman may have some trouble finding ice time, he plays LD, and the Marlies have a lot of those. I already have Rasmus Sandin and Andreas Borgman as locks on the left side, so Kapla will probably have to fight for some ice time. With guys like Teemu Kivihalme and Kevin Gravel also gunning for a spot, it seems he may have to up his game a bit.
Ryan Johnston – DEmbed from Getty Images
Ryan Johnston (then of the St. John’s IceCaps) fights for the puck with Colin Smith (then of the Toronto Marlies). (Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images)
Ryan Johnston makes for another intriguing signing. The defenseman was signed by Montreal out of college and spent the next two seasons in the Habs organization. He ended up playing ten scoreless games in the NHL, notching 30 points in 87 games in the AHL. The Sudbury native went on to play the next two seasons in Sweden, where he’s had 33 points in 86 games (not to mention two assists in a singular NLA game). Johnston is known for being more offensively inclined. He’s a bit more of a playmaker, but his defensive game is solid. It’ll be interesting to see if he can do better than his previous AHL seasons, this time in Toronto. Johnston is a right-handed defenseman, and the Marlies have quite a bit of those, but not a huge logjam. I have Johnston behind Timothy Liljegren on the Marlies, but ahead of the likes of Ben Harpur and Joseph Duszak. I don’t think the 27-year-old is a lock for a full-time spot, but it looks likely as of right now.
All of these guys will probably make an impact whether it’s with the Marlies or the Growlers. Keep an eye out for these guys on the ice. Check back for more Leafs, Marlies, and Growlers news!
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