With their loss on Friday, the Lethbridge Hurricanes were eliminated from the WHL playoffs ending any hope of a Maple Leaf prospect representing each league in the Memorial Cup this season. Andrew Nielsen had his breakout junior season come to an end when his team was upset by the Regina Pats in the opening round, but the loss could end up being a huge opportunity for the 19-year-old defenseman
No official announcement has been made by the organization, but there is speculation that Nielsen will join the Toronto Marlies in the next few days to add some depth for the playoffs.
— Terry Koshan (@koshtorontosun) April 2, 2016
Nielsen is still junior eligible next season, but he will be 20 in November so he also has the ability to play in the AHL. A short tryout this spring could give him the head start needed to make the AHL team as a regular next season. At 6’3 210lbs, Nielsen definitely has the size to make the jump to the next level, but it will be a matter of deciding whether or not his skating has improved enough to fit in with the higher level of competition.
This season saw Nielsen take a huge leap in his performance. Playing a bigger role on Lethbridge, his point total grew exponentially, finishing 3rd in WHL scoring among defenders. The point per game pace has a lot of Leaf fans gushing over the 2015 third round pick, but expectations need to be tempered. The knock on Nielsen has always been his skating and it is still a weakness. He will have to improve his foot speed to ever become an impactful NHLer, but at 19 he has a lot of time to develop.
Timashov and Dzierkals Rolling
The two Leafs prospects in Quebec have been great through the first round of the QMJHL playoffs. Martins Dzierkals contributed a goal and four assists in Rouyn-Noranda’s first round sweep of Drummondville while Timashov has been incredible for Shawinigan. Timashov has nine points through the first round as his team moved on with relative ease eliminating Sherbrooke 4-1.
OHL Playoffs Rolling Along
- Stephen Desrocher is on to the next round as Kingston easily eliminated his former team, the defending Memorial Cup Champion Oshawa Generals.
- Jeremy Bracco and the Kitchener Rangers made short work of the Windsor Spitfires winning the series 4-1. Kitchener had a bit of a rough second half to the season but looked very impressive in the first round. Bracco leads the team with 10 points in the first five games of the playoffs.
- Over in London, Mitch Marner and the Knights are having a lot more difficulty with Owen Sound than many expected. Marner has been great with 11 points through five games, but after being the hottest team in the CHL for months, it wasn’t expected that London would need 6+ games to get through the first round.
- Thanks to a heavy reliance on the top two lines in London, JJ Piccinich has seen a diminished role in the playoffs. He has produced just three assists in his five games.
- Travis Dermott was great in a first round sweep of Saginaw. The Erie blueliner led the way with 8 points and looked like a dominant force on just about every shift.
- On the flip side, Nikita Korostelev has not had much of an impact at all as his Sarnia Sting are on the verge of being upset by the Soo Greyhounds. The team lost Travis Konecny to a shoulder injury and have received almost no support from their secondary players like Korostelev.
Leafs’ prospect Travis Dermott has 1G & 2A in Erie’s win on Friday. Here’s his PP goal from the point https://t.co/V95OHKJqiG
— Kathryn Jean (@msconduct) March 27, 2016
Semi-Final Time in Sweden
The matchups are set for the second round of the SHL playoffs. Maple Leafs prospect Andreas Johnson’s Frolunda team will face off against Lulea. Frolunda won the regular season series 3-1 and if the playoffs go much longer, Leaf fans can rule out an appearance from Johnson with the Marlies this season.