TORONTO- Many skaters for the Toronto Marlies, who have certain expectations put upon them from the Leafs organization, are having difficulty producing any offence so far this season.
One of those players is prospect Carter Ashton.
The 6’3, 210-pound winger has yet to score a goal and has only managed six shots on net and a single assist in five games, despite opening the year on the top line alongside Keith Aucoin and Nazem Kadri.
“What we would like to see is a little bit more finish, and I think he can do it,” said Marlies head coach Dallas Eakins about Ashton.
The 21-year-old is coming off a 21-goal season, which was good for eighth in AHL rookie scoring. 19 of those goals, however, came while playing for the Norfolk Admirals.
Since being acquired by from the Tampa Bay Lightning organization at the 2012 NHL trade deadline for Keith Aulie, Ashton has had problems producing in Toronto. He has suited up in 12 regular season games for the Marlies and has two goals and four points.
He also had a 15-game call up with the Leafs shortly after being acquired last year in which he produced zero points.
“Getting traded and then getting called up all in a couple weeks, getting that opportunity was a whirlwind,” said Ashton. “But I learned a lot.”
Ashton’s inability to score goals so far for Toronto hasn’t been from a lack of effort, and his coach is confident that if he keeps playing physical he will create more chances for himself and his line mates.
“I think he’s on the right track,” said Eakins. “He’s a dedicated kid off the ice and on the ice he brings his best every day. It’s always easier to have a guy like that when you have to pull him back then have to inject some physical play. We have no issues with Carter on that issue. He’s physical every shift.”
“I’m trying to take more pucks to the net,” said Ashton about how he’s trying to produce. “That’s something I’ve been working on with my size.”
Eakins has flexibility in his line up and Ashton’s slow start to the year had him bumped down to a fourth-line role for Toronto’s last two contests. It’s unclear if the power forward will have to start scoring goals to work himself back up to a top-six position but, either way, Ashton isn’t the only player Eakins is expecting more from as the Marlies get ready to head out on an eight-game road trip.
Joe Colborne, Mike Zigomanis, Jerry D’Amigo, Greg Scott, Kadri and Aucoin, who are expected to run the offence, are all still searching for their first goal of the season as well.