Maple Leafs’ dozen debutants makes this team the greenest ever

Tobias Lindberg  (Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

When Tobias Lindberg steps on the ice with the Toronto Maple Leafs against the Buffalo Sabres tonight, he’ll be part of a team record that hasn’t been matched in almost 100 years.

Lindberg, one of the prospects acquired from the Ottawa Senators in the Dion Phaneuf trade, will become the 12th player to make his NHL debut for the Leafs this season, joining William Nylander, Zach Hyman, Byron Froese, Nikita Soshnikov, Brendan Leipsic, Kasperi Kapanen, Rinat Valiev, Frederik Gauthier, Garret Sparks and Viktor Loov. It’s actually 13 if you include goalie Antoine Bibeau, who dressed as a backup for 11 games this season, but didn’t see any action.

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Prospect Need to Know: Boston’s latest shutdown threat

Brandon Carlo (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)

Everything is happening right now, as Bob Cole would say. You’ve got the Jimmy Vesey saga in Nashville, Zach Werenski signing with Columbus and Pittsburgh grabbing college free agent Ethan Prow out of St. Cloud State. Plus, the CHL playoffs are in full swing, with a couple upstarts threatening the top seeds. In the OHL for example, Sarnia is in trouble thanks to a surging Sault Ste. Marie squad, while Edmonton is giving powerhouse Brandon fits in the WHL. Oh, and the Frozen Four is set, with Quinnipiac, Boston College, North Dakota and Denver all in the mix for April 7. Let’s keep the prospect party going:

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Jonathan Drouin scratched for AHL game after sleeping in, missing team meeting

Jared Clinton
Jonathan Drouin (Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

Jonathan Drouin has played well since returning to the Syracuse Crunch after a nearly two-month absence from the team following his walkout from the AHL club, but he’s being watched closely and Wednesday he made a mistake that cost him his spot in the lineup.

Drouin, 20, was given a one-game team-imposed suspension — more accurately, he was a healthy scratch — after he missed a team meeting Tuesday. Drouin told Syracuse.com’s Lindsay Kramer that he overslept after his alarm didn’t go off, which caused him to miss a team meeting Tuesday morning before practice. Drouin participated in the Tuesday skate, but Wednesday’s game came and went without Drouin in the lineup.

“I’ve got to live with the consequences,” Drouin told Kramer, adding that he would make up the error to his teammates. Read more

Maple Leafs prospect William Nylander ‘wants to be great’

Ken Campbell
William Nylander (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

Par Marts has a dream and it involves the Toronto Marlies getting shocked in the first round of the American League playoffs. Because that’s the only way the Swedish national team coach is going to get his hands on William Nylander for the World Championship.

With Marts and Swedish GM Peter Popovic on hand Monday night, Nylander gave them reason to salivate, registering his second multi-point game with a three-point effort in a 5-2 win over the Calgary Flames. It gave Nylander five points in his past two games and established Nylander, the No. 2 prospect in THN’s annual Future Watch edition behind future Arizona Coyote Dylan Strome, as a future go-to offensive force for the Leafs. (Future Watch can be purchased on-line by going to: https://secure.thehockeynews.com/online-store/?&utm_source=thehockeynews.com&utm_medium=digital_edition&utm_campaign=mag_site_links)

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Robin Lehner vs. Ben Scrivens death match: who ya got?

Ryan Kennedy
Robin Lehner (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

Things got all testy last night between Montreal and Buffalo, with the Sabres defending their crease with furious anger. At the height of the animosity, Buffalo goalie Robin Lehner yanked Montreal’s Michael McCarron through the air and the two then exchanged gloved punches. Lehner’s netminding counterpart, Ben Scrivens, skated up to the blueline but never crossed the Rubicon:

 

 

After the tilt, which Montreal won 3-2, Lehner had some fightin’ words:

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Yzerman says Drouin returning to Lightning this season is ‘very realistic’

Jared Clinton
Jonathan Drouin (Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

Jonathan Drouin’s return to the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch has gone well so far. In his first game back, he found the score sheet with an assist and proceeded to score two dynamite goals the next night out. Thanks to his play, a return to the Tampa Bay Lightning could be on the horizon.

At the GM meetings in Florida, Lightning GM Steve Yzerman spoke with NHL.com’s Shawn Roarke and Yzerman said there was never a plan to keep Drouin in the AHL in the first place. Yzerman said the original demotion, which came on Jan. 2, was to get Drouin some game action as he had missed 19 games due to injury in the first half of the season.

“It wasn’t a demotion, it was simply to go down, though not on conditioning, was strictly as conditioning to get some games after missing a lot due to injury,” Yzerman told Roarke. “The plan was for him to go down and play and come back, so with the situation right now, if it is good for our team and it is the right thing to do, he will be recalled. So, it’s very realistic.” Read more

Hamilton Bulldogs unveil black and gold jerseys to honor city’s hockey history

Jared Clinton
(via Hamilton Bulldogs/YouTube)

The Hamilton Bulldogs have nearly completed their inaugural OHL campaign, but the team will truly look the part of a Hamilton-based sports franchise come 2016-17.

As part of a jersey redesign, the Bulldogs are going to a black and gold color scheme from the next campaign and will say goodbye to the current red, blue and white scheme that was brought over from the team’s AHL days as the affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens. The updated scheme isn’t simply an eye-catching new look, though. It ties into the city’s sports history, dating all the way back to the Hamilton Tigers, one of the original NHL clubs during that played its first games in 1920.

In a video that was paired with the jersey’s release, the Bulldogs debuted the jerseys and talked briefly about Hamilton’s sporting history and the meaning of black and gold: Read more

AHL Griffins surprise family as father returns from army on Star Wars night

Jared Clinton
Joshua Headd surprises his family (via Grand Rapids Griffins/YouTube)

Almost every season, minor league teams throughout hockey use Star Wars as the centerpiece for a theme night. Generally there are characters from the film present, the jerseys can be Star Wars themed and intermission activities can be based on the films.

The Grand Rapids Griffins, however, used Star Wars night to offer up an even bigger surprise for the Headd family. During an intermission, the Maggie Headd and her three children, all between the age of 3 and 6, took to the ice to celebrate with some of the Star Wars characters. While looking the opposite way, one of the characters on ice, a Jedi, approached them, and when the kids turned around, they were shocked to see their father, Joshua: Read more