Legion of Young Talent Arriving In Toronto
TORONTO - The 80th season of the VHL turned out to be less than kind to the Toronto Legion, whose 12-53-7 record and 31 points firmly placed them at the bottom of not only the North American Conference, but also the entire VHL. Despite the bright spot that was rookie forward Matty Fire’s 113 point season, winning him the Christian Stolzschweiger Trophy as the top rookie, it was a dismal year for Toronto. However, that’s something that General Manager Rylan Peace is rectifying, as a legion of young talent is on it’s way to Toronto in the upcoming seasons.
Even before the Season 81 VHL Entry Draft, several new faces were confirmed to be joining the Toronto roster as rookies. Armani Calamari, after an incredible off-season of training, has made his way to the Legion after winning the inaugural VHLE championship with the Vasteras Iron Eagles and WJC gold with Team Canada. After scoring 100 points in the VHLE with the Bratislava Watchmen, Jakub Brozik makes his way to Toronto to join the rebuild. Their fifth round pick from Season 80, Kyle Peace, also makes his way to the pro roster after scoring 93 points with the VHLE champion Vasteras Iron Eagles and winning gold with Team Canada in the WJC. Lastly, Season 80 fourth overall pick Oskar Lindbergh finds himself on Toronto’s pro roster after winning a championship in the VHLE with the Vasteras Iron Eagles and a silver medal with Team Europe in the WJC. He appears slated to be the opening day starter and unquestioned #1 netminder for now.
Before the draft, the Legion received a much-needed boost on the blue line in free agency, reaching an agreement with former D.C. Dragons defenseman Jannik Nylen on a four-year deal. After spending two seasons in the VHLM, Nylen made the Dragons’ roster in Season 79, recording 7 assists in 72 games with a +8 rating, 77 hits, and 90 shots blocked. With the creation of the VHLE in Season 80, Nylen found himself on the Bratislava Watchmen, where he thrived, scoring 95 points with a +14 rating, 117 hits, and 235 shots blocked. The 6’4, 245 pound defenseman now looks to break out with the Toronto Legion, who will be offering him plenty of ice time and a tremendous opportunity to establish himself as a VHL player. Pending free agent and human wrecking ball Jared Carter also agreed to re-sign with Toronto, keeping the key physical presence on the Legion in town. Otto Numinen also joined Toronto through a trade with the Prague Phantoms, and while the price was high, including Asher Reinhart, who seemed unlikely to re-sign with Toronto after the season. Signed through Season 83, Numinen is poised to be a better fit in the long term for Toronto.
Toronto continued to add to their blue line with the fifth overall selection in the Season 81 VHL Entry Draft, selecting defenseman Cadmael Ixazaluoh of the Philadelphia Reapers. Despite being one of the better defensemen in the draft pool, Ixazaluoh will be spending Season 81 with the Bratislava Watchmen as he continues to develop, eyeing to break into the VHL in Season 82. Toronto's other first round selection, Harkat Mulds, is joining the Legion immediately for Season 81. After a dominant season with the Yukon Rush in the VHLM, in which he scored 53 goals and 141 points, Mulds bypassed the VHLE, going straight to the VHL, giving an immediate boost to Toronto's young roster.
With the first of four selections of the second round, Toronto continued to add to their growing roster of defensive prospects, selecting George Sanderson seventeenth overall. The 6'3, 200 pound defensive defenseman is rough around the edges offensively, but has some real potential in his own end, especially on a Toronto team in need of physical players. The Legion selected winger Weenuk Warrior with the 24th overall pick, adding an interesting dynamic to the prospect pool. In a league increasingly filled with snipers, Warrior is a playmaker, someone who looks to set up teammates first. This is certainly a player to keep an eye on during their development in the VHLM.
Later, at 29th overall, Toronto did take another forward in Ashton Komaryk that perhaps fits the norm. Komaryk showed a strong scoring touch and puck handling abilities with the Houston Bulls last season, but still needs further seasoning, particularly defensively, before making the leap to the pros. The Legion received more support for their blue line with Harry Hagel at 31st overall, who has shown strong defensive ability with the Halifax 21st of the VHLM, and has also shown promise passing the puck as well. A defensive pipeline that was barren going into the draft now holds several promising young players that look to round out the future roster.
In the fourth round, at 41st overall, Toronto addressed their need for depth at the goaltender position with Boris Tsezar, currently with the Mexico City Kings of the VHLM. There's still plenty of time before Tsezar will join Oskar Lindbergh at the pro level, but he has looked very strong so far in the VHLM. Finally, with their last selection, at 60th overall, Toronto selected center Alessio Simeoni of the Saskatoon Wild. Despite being a fifth round pick, Simeoni has been a consistent updater thus far, and is on track to be a big contributor with Saskatoon in the VHLM this season.
It's certainly going to be another tough season for Toronto faithful in Season 81, but there is something present that wasn't there last season: hope. Young players such as Matty Fire are becoming key components of the team, and others, such as Kyle Peace and Harkat Mulds, are ready to step in and become key members of the team. The goaltender of the future, Oskar Lindbergh, is here and starting from day one this season. Even Toronto's pipeline, which was rather barren a season ago, is once again brimming with talents such as Cadmael Ixazaluoh, George Sanderson, and Weenuk Warrior. More rough times may be ahead, but the Legion of talent being assembled by Rylan Peace gives Toronto something to look forward to moving ahead.
Jethro Novacek is an award-winning writer for the MSFL Times, a purveyor of nothing but the finest of simulation sports history. He enjoys influencing the opinions of ducks with bread, finding creative uses for Thanksgiving leftovers, and throwing communists from helicopters.