Draft Day: First Round Picks Who Developed With The Marlies
Draft day is here and National Hockey League executives are preparing for their three minutes on the clock tonight in Dallas, with the Maple Leafs slated to pick 25th overall. With the opening round scheduled to begin at 7:30, it provides an opportunity to look back on the important role the Marlies have played in the development of Leafs’ first-round picks.
Timothy Liljegren – 2017 NHL Entry Draft, 17th overall
Timothy Liljegren completed his first American Hockey League season with a Calder Cup victory just last week, capping off a rookie campaign that saw the youngest defenceman in the league play an important role on the blueline from start to finish.
Liljegren completed the regular season with 17 points (1G, 16A) in 44 regular season games, giving him the highest points-per-game for an 18-year-old defenceman in league history. He added four assists in the playoffs, appearing in each postseason game for the Marlies.
He scored his first career North American professional goal with the Marlies on October 8 against Utica.
William Nylander – 2014 NHL Entry Draft, 8th overall
Midway through the 2014-15 season, William Nylander touched down in Toronto from Modo in Sweden. It took the young forward just three games to score his first American League goal, opening the scoring against Utica in a 3-2 win on January 30.
Nylander would go on to record 32 points (14G, 18A) in 37 games that season and made five playoff appearances, earning three assists. He followed up that campaign with a stellar second season, producing at an above point-per-game rate with 45 points (18G, 27A) in 38 games and was named an AHL All-Star. He was recalled for 22 games with the Maple Leafs in the later part of the season before rejoining the Marlies for their Calder Cup run, scoring seven goals and 11 points in 14 games.
As he gets set to enter his third full season with the Maple Leafs, Nylander 48 goals and 135 points in 185 games played and an additional eight points in 13 playoff games. He was named the NHL’s Rookie of the Month twice in the 2016-17 campaign and the Most Valuable Player of the 2017 IIHF World Championships.
Frederik Gauthier – 2013 NHL Entry Draft, 21st overall
After winning the Guy Carbonneau Trophy, awarded to the best defensive forward in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Frederik Gauthier made his Marlies debut at the beginning of the 2015-16 AHL season. He scored his first goal in Lehigh Valley just six games into his pro career and has a successful campaign earning 18 points (6G, 12A) in 56 games before being recalled to the Maple Leafs for seven games at the end of the season.
Gauthier appeared in more games with the Leafs during his second season, skating in 46 games with the Marlies and 21 with the big club. He had four goals and 13 points for the Marlies that year, before scoring seven goals for the Marlies in this past year where Gauthier helped lead the team to its first ever Calder Cup.
Centering a line with Colin Greening and Pierre Engvall, Gauthier had a breakout offensive performance throughout the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs, recording eight points in 20 games, including the double overtime winning goal against Syracuse in Game 2 of the North Division Finals. He has skated in 37 games for the Maple Leafs, recording his first NHL goal on December 22, 2016, in Colorado.
Morgan Rielly – 2012 NHL Entry Draft, 5th overall
The Vancouver-born defenceman made a brief stop with the Marlies in 2013, coming off the heels of a 54-point season with the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League just one year after being drafted fifth overall.
Joining the Marlies for their final stretch and Calder Cup push, Rielly wasted no time making his presence known, scoring his first goal in his first pro game, forcing overtime against the Chicago Wolves. Rielly would skate in fourteen regular season games for the Marlies, recording three points, before appearing in eight of nine games during the Calder Cup Playoffs.
Rielly joined the Leafs full-time the following year and has gone on to record 31 goals and 171 points in 388 career NHL games, all with the blue and white.
Nazem Kadri – 2009 NHL Entry Draft, 7th overall
Nazem Kadri made his NHL debut on October 9, 2010, and it didn’t take long for him to make an impact. He earned his first point in his first ever game, had a four-point performance in his fifth game and racked up a total of three goals and seven points in his first five appearances with the Marlies.
In that rookie year, Kadi produced at almost a point-per-game pace, collecting 41 points (17G, 24A) in 44 games, while adding three goals and 12 points with the Leafs that season.
Kadri would put up 40 points (18G, 22A) again in his second season, playing in 40 games with the Marlies, and an additional 26 points in his third year before joining the Leafs full-time in the second half of the 2012-13 campaign. Kadri recorded his 100th career point on December 8, 2012, scoring the opening goal in a 4-3 win over Rochester.
Since his first game with the Marlies, Kadri has appeared in 488 NHL contests and scored 344 points (145G, 168A).
Jiri Tlusty – 2006 NHL Entry Draft, 13th overall
Jiri Tlusty’s North American professional career began on October 6, 2006, when the forward scored a power play goal in his debut game, helping the Marlies to a 6-0 victory over Syracuse. He played six games with the Marlies that October, earning four points (3G, 1A) before being assigned to the Ontario Hockey League’s Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds.
Tlusty would play 14 games with the Marlies the following year, notching 18 points (7G, 11A) in 14 games, while also playing 58 games with the Maple Leafs. He returned to the Marlies for the Calder Cup Playoffs, appearing in 19 games and earning ten points to help the Marlies advance to the Western Conference Finals.
His third season in Toronto was a breakout year with the Marlies, as Tlusty record 66 points (25G, 41A) in 66 games at Ricoh Coliseum. Tlusty was traded to Carolina the following season and went on to appear in 446 NHL games, all starting with the Marlies. Tlusty still holds the Marlies franchise record for most goals in a game and points in a game. He had five goals in an 8-5 victory over Syracuse on February 18, 2009, while he collected six points in a 6-4 win over Providence less than a month later.
The Toronto Marlies are the 2017-18 Calder Cup Champions and the primary development program for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Toronto Maple Leafs roster at the end of their regular season featured 13 players who were developed by the Marlies (Tyler Bozak, Connor Brown, Connor Carrick, Travis Dermott, Jake Gardiner, Zach Hyman, Andreas Johnsson Nazem Kadri, Kasperi Kapanen, Leo Komarov, Josh Leivo, William Nylander and Morgan Rielly).