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KK Members Blog

Will the Marlies Success Translate to the Maple Leafs Next Season?

06/11/2012 at 12:47pm EDT

The Toronto Marlies had a great season and although they were swept in the Calder Cup final on the weekend, they had an excellent playoff run as well. What is most impressive with the Marlies playoff run is that they have done it with a minimal amount of AHL “veterans”. Other than Mike Zigomanis, the rest of the squad is made up of legitimate NHL prospects.

The Marlies great run is getting Leaf fans thinking about how their success might translate to the big club next year. There have been some recent cases where AHL success from the previous season appeared to help the NHL clubs with big improvements the following season. Most recently the Ottawa Senators jumped up 18 points in 2011-12 after their affiliate, Bighamton Senators, won the Calder Cup in 2010-11 and the Montreal Canadiens had a 14 point jump in 2006-07 after the Hamilton Bulldogs won the Calder Cup in 2005-06.

I decided to look back at 18 seasons from 1991-92 to see how NHL teams fared the year after their AHL affiliate played in the Calder Cup finals. I used difference in points from the previous season as my criteria for judging “improvement” at the NHL level.

On average, NHL teams improved 2.9 points the season after their AHL affiliate appeared in the Calder Cup finals. However, we can’t take these results too seriously as there was a huge amount of variation in the data. The standard deviation was 12.9 points with a maximum point gain of 32 and a maximum point drop of 27. Clearly there are many factors which determine how a team does from year to year and organizational depth is only a part of that.

Although success at the AHL level does not guarantee success at the NHL level the following season, Maple Leaf fans should have some hope going forward as there could be as many as 8 players from this Marlies squad (Gardiner, Frattin, Kadri, Colborne, Rosehill, Holzer, D’Amigo and Scrivens) that could be full time members with the Maple Leafs next season. Some may see this as a negative, but at least there are young players in the organization ready to make an impact at the next level. This is something the Maple Leafs organization has not had in years and is nothing but positive as the organization tries to move forward and end this horrendous playoff drought.

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