As the Toronto Maple Leafs wait to start their playoff series with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday night on home ice, it seemed like a good time to help bring Maple Leafs’ fans up to speed about a young player who recently set the rookie goal–scoring record for the team’s AHL affiliate the Toronto Marlies.
That youngster is Bobby McMann. On Friday, within days of his record-setting rookier performance with the Marlies, Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas signed McMann to a two-year, two-way contract with an annual value of $762,500.
Similar to Former Marlies’ Player Mason Marchment, Bobby McMann Is Not a Typical Prospect
McMann is not a typical prospect. He graduated from Colgate University after a four-year NCAA career. He then signed his first professional contract with the Toronto Marlies in April 2020. When I was reading about McMann’s developmental background, in many ways he reminded me of former Marlies’ player Mason Marchment. As a result, when I created the publication for the post, I found an older photo of Marchment in a Marlies’ uniform for the feature image on the post.
Both Marchment and McMann were undrafted players; both have size; and, neither was expected to produce. After kicking around for a few years, Marchment has currently created a solid NHL career for himself. Might McMann follow a similar path?
McMann’s Long Journey to a Maple Leafs’ Contract
In his first professional season in 2020-21, McMann played both with the Marlies and the ECHL’s Wichita Thunder. He scored 17 points (six goals and 11 assists) in 18 games for the Thunder and two points (a goal and an assist) in five playoff games. As it did for many other young hockey players, COVID-19 created havoc with McMann’s career trajectory.
However, during the 2021-22 season, he had a surprise breakout and set the franchise record for most goals for a rookie in a Marlies’ season with 24. Although it took him some time to earn top-six minutes on the team, he’s been one of the Marlies’ best players recently and has scored 14 points in the team’s last 17 games (11 goals and three assists).
Usually 25 Year Olds Are No Longer NHL Prospects
If he’s still considered a prospect, he’s an older one. Usually, forwards who are “older” at 25 years of age have reached their peak and their future expectations are pretty much settled. Not so with McMann. He’s taking a longer career path than most forwards; and, perhaps, the Maple Leafs have another Marchment on their hands.
Maple Leafs’ fans will recall that Marchment was undrafted and kicked around the organization for several seasons. Now at 27-years-old (next month) he’s a solid performer for the Florida Panthers, having scored 18 goals and 29 assists (for 47 points) in 54 NHL games this season. Similar to McMann, Marchment has size at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds. Obviously, the Maple Leafs might hope McMann has the same potential.
McMann Adds Something the Maple Leafs’ Organization Lacks
Although McMann doesn’t have the size Marchment has, he isn’t tiny. At 6-foot-1 and 203 pounds, he has power-forward potential; and, obviously, the Maple Leafs believe that’s worth investing in. If he can further develop his scoring touch, he might be able to earn some bottom-six minutes for the Maple Leafs during the life of his current contract.
What’s most impressive is his work ethic. The report on his signing called that work ethic “unrelenting.” Specifically, it was noted that “He rarely takes a shift off and has drawn many penalties this season when opponents have been worn down by his work rate and puck pursuit.”
The word on McMann is that he plays aggressively but he is responsible and disciplined. He only had seven minor penalties in the 60 games he’s played this season.
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McMann has also been used as a penalty killer this season and has scored three shorthanded goals on the season. The penalty kill is an area where the Marlies have not been strong. The AHL team currently ranks only 24th in the AHL.
Can McMann Ever Make the Maple Leafs’ Active Roster
As noted, because he’ll be 26 years old this summer, he’s a bit long in the tooth for making an NHL roster. However, stranger things have happened. Although Justin Holl is a defenseman, he was a long time making it to the Maple Leafs. Holl followed the same career path – the ECHL, to the AHL, to the NHL. However, defensemen often take less traditional pathways to NHL careers.
Still, that the Maple Leafs signed him to a two-contract does tell McMann that he’s been noticed by the organization and that there’s a chance. Perhaps, McMann will peak later in his career. Given the Maple Leafs world-class development staff, there’s no doubt that he will become a project for an organization that drafts skill but often ignores size.
Good luck to McMann in the organization.
The Old Prof (Jim Parsons, Sr.) taught for more than 40 years in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta. He’s a Canadian boy, who has two degrees from the University of Kentucky and a doctorate from the University of Texas. He is now retired on Vancouver Island, where he lives with his family. His hobbies include playing with his hockey cards and simply being a sports fan – hockey, the Toronto Raptors, and CFL football (thinks Ricky Ray personifies how a professional athlete should act).
If you wonder why he doesn’t use his real name, it’s because his son – who’s also Jim Parsons – wrote for The Hockey Writers first and asked Jim Sr. to use another name so readers wouldn’t confuse their work.
Because Jim Sr. had worked in China, he adopted the Mandarin word for teacher (老師). The first character lǎo (老) means “old,” and the second character shī (師) means “teacher.” The literal translation of lǎoshī is “old teacher.” That became his pen name. Today, other than writing for The Hockey Writers, he teaches graduate students research design at several Canadian universities.
He looks forward to sharing his insights about the Toronto Maple Leafs and about how sports engages life more fully. His Twitter address is https://twitter.com/TheOldProf