The Toronto Maple Leafs have needed to take care of various accidents already this season. Gamers like John Tavares, Mitch Marner and, now, Andreas Johnsson have all missed prolonged time on account of a wide-range of accidents.
What that’s meant for the Maple Leafs is that youthful – perhaps less-experienced – gamers have been compelled to step into conditions that require them to tackle totally different roles all through the lineup. Guys like Ilya Mikheyev and Pierre Engvall have performed greater roles than perhaps they anticipated to this season – together with Engvall having performed important time on the penalty kill up to now for the workforce since his name up from the AHL.
Pierre Engvall has stepped into the Maple Leafs’ lineup in various roles. (Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports activities)
Now, after the workforce positioned Johnsson on injured reserve with no return anticipated till at the least after Christmas, one other call-up will doubtless get the possibility to play on the Maple Leafs high line alongside Auston Matthews and William Nylander.
Enter Pontus Aberg – a participant who has seen NHL motion already in his profession and a 26-year-old that has proven indicators of brilliance in his first season with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies.
Aberg: A Numbers Recreation
Initially drafted within the second spherical, 37th total, in 2012 by the Nashville Predators, Aberg has performed 127 common season video games on the NHL degree with Nashville, Edmonton, Anaheim and Minnesota over elements of three seasons.
In 2018-19, he cut up time between the Geese and Wild racking up 12 objectives and 25 factors in 59 video games between the 2 golf equipment. So there’s no arguing that he’s had the possibility to indicate what he can do on the NHL degree.
Nonetheless, his AHL numbers with the Marlies could also be the primary motive as to why he’s getting a chance to play on Toronto’s high line. In 22 video games up to now with the Marlies, Aberg has 10 objectives and 24 factors – main the workforce in factors previous to his name up.
Pontus Aberg has performed 127 common season NHL video games with 4 totally different groups, together with Anaheim. (Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports activities)
However Aberg doesn’t simply deliver common season expertise to the Maple Leafs. In actual fact, the 26-year-old was part of the Predators workforce that went to the Stanley Cup Last in 2016-17 the place he performed 16 video games for the Preds accumulating 5 factors over that span.
However with that form of expertise and having confirmed that he does have some offensive upside, why is it that Aberg hasn’t discovered a strategy to stick within the NHL up to now? And what can he deliver to the Maple Leafs’ high line alongside Matthews and Nylander that makes him the worthy candidate for the workforce’s newest call-up?
What Makes This Time Completely different for Aberg?
His numbers with the Marlies are a straightforward, floor motive as to why the workforce made the decision to deliver him to the massive membership. With 24 factors in 22 video games, it’s a comparatively easy choice to make primarily based on the wants of the workforce each for offence and positionally with the absence of Johnsson.
That mentioned, there’s extra to the call-up than merely pulling the highest scorer from their in-town affiliate. And it has to do with the truth that he is aware of the league already, in keeping with head coach Sheldon Keefe.
Associated: Keefe’s Maple Leafs Going through Some Tough Realities
“The most important factor is simply that he’s performed within the league, he’s had success within the league, he’s scored within the league earlier than and he’s performed with good gamers earlier than,” mentioned Keefe in an article by Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston. “Clearly me teaching him within the American League, I’ve seen what he’s able to doing at that degree when he’s taking part in at his greatest, so we’re going to offer him a chance right here to indicate that he can belong.”
Aberg will get an opportunity to play on the Maple Leafs’ high line with Matthews and Nylander. (Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports activities)
And the chance is there for the younger ahead. With Johnsson doubtless out till the brand new 12 months, the Maple Leafs might rely closely on Aberg and the remainder of the Matthews line to get their offence out of the funk that they appear to be in.
What’s extra is that Aberg is aware of what this chance can imply for him and his aspirations of incomes a everlasting spot within the NHL. And whereas he gained’t take it flippantly, he does really feel that issues off the ice have ready him to deal with his position as a professional athlete in a way more mature means.
“When I’ve a foul sport or the workforce’s taking part in unhealthy, I don’t need to get down on myself or something,” mentioned Aberg within the Johnston article concerning his progress as a participant stemming from the beginning of his daughter, Molly. “I’ve to be completely happy round my daughter and she or he brings pleasure. She’s all the time completely happy, even [if] we lose or win, in order that’s been large for me the previous two years.”
Aberg, Keefe Reunited
Aberg can be getting the possibility to reunite along with his former Marlies coach Keefe as his makes his soar again into the NHL. Whereas it was Keefe’s first 12 months with Aberg on his workforce, Aberg credit the Maple Leafs’ new bench boss with instilling confidence in his talents and giving him the chance to develop offensively this season.
“He was optimistic in direction of me since I acquired down there and he had a smile after I walked in right here at the moment,” mentioned Aberg after being reunited following the decision up. “An awesome coach and a terrific human being.” (from ‘Leafs recall Pontus Aberg as an A-1 sub for injured Johnsson’, Toronto Solar – 12/6/19)
With Andreas Johnsson out, Aberg ought to get a reputable alternative with the Maple Leafs. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)
As for who he’ll get to play with, Aberg understands the chance that lays forward of him with the massive membership.
“These are two gamers (Matthews and Nylander) you wish to play with. When you can’t get the puck, you may’t rating,” he mentioned within the Toronto Solar article with reference to his new linemates.
Aberg will add some sturdy ability set to an already spectacular line. His pace and talent to maneuver the puck ought to consider to how properly he does with the Maple Leafs’ high line. One factor is for positive, Aberg gained’t get a greater probability than this to show what he can do on the NHL degree. And with Johnsson out for some time, this might be simply what he wants – an opportunity alongside Matthews and Nylander – to offer himself the arrogance to earn himself a full-time position on the NHL degree.