Dec 27, 2012, 12:49 PM EDT
AHL fans will already know the name Mike Kostka.
Soon NHL fans might, too.
Kostka, a 27-year-old defenseman, is creating a good deal of buzz in hockey’s most buzzing market, Toronto. His 28 points are second on the Marlies and second behind Justin Schultz among all the league’s d-men.
“He has been impressive,” Leafs president and general manager Brian Burke told TSN.ca via e-mail. “High hockey IQ, great patience with the puck, can really thread passes on the power play.”
Kostka’s hockey journey has been a long one. The Marlies are his fifth AHL stop following four seasons at UMass-Amherst. He was never drafted.
Last year, he helped Norfolk win the Calder Cup, after which the Leafs signed him to a one-year deal that’s paying him $250,000 to play in the minors. That’s more than most AHLers earn and evidence of the organization’s deep pockets.
If the NHL has a season, cracking the Leafs’ line-up would be a realistic goal for Kostka.
“He’s a guy firmly on our roster that if the NHL ever gets going again here I would hope that he gets at least a look,” Marlies coach Dallas Eakins said recently. “Let’s get him into a game or two and see what he can do at the NHL level.”
- Video: ‘It’s not the ideal situation,’ says OT hero Vermette of being a healthy scratch 5
- From healthy scratch to hero: Vermette scores OT winner for Blackhawks 45
- Video: Ducks score three goals in 37 seconds to take third-period lead 8
- WATCH LIVE: Ducks at Blackhawks, Western Conference Final Game 4 0
- Cooper on replacing Bishop: ‘That is asinine to me’ 25
- Vermette, Teravainen return for Blackhawks in Game 4 15
- Comeback fit for a King: Lundqvist, Rangers even series in Game 4 24
- Fetisov wants to restrict young Russians from playing in the NHL 53
- All eyes on Lundqvist 11
- Quenneville opted for ‘fresh legs’ by inserting Nordstrom, Versteeg into lineup 12
- Reports: Sabres thought they had a deal with Babcock, aren’t happy (174)
- Leafs land Babcock with reported 8-year deal, estimated at $50 million (130)
- Russia to be punished for ‘completely out of order’ actions after Worlds final loss to Canada (91)
- Report: Sabres negotiating with Babcock (82)
- What’s wrong with Lundqvist? (70)