April 15th, 2014
TORONTO— Prospect Carter Verhaeghe has only played one game with the Marlies since joining the team on Apr. 5th. But he’s left an impression with head coach Steve Spott.
The 18-year-old centre was in the lineup for Sunday’s 3-2 come-from-behind win against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and assisted on the tying goal in the third period after winning a key face-off in the offensive zone.
“You can see what he did, he won a big face-off to get us that big T.J. Brennan goal…just a very smart player,” Spott told LeafsTV post-game.
Verhaeghe was able to make it into the lineup because of an absent Peter Holland, who was summoned to play in the Maple Leafs final game of the regular season on Saturday. While his role was minimal, as well as his minutes played, Spott saw enough to believe the 82nd pick from 2013 has high potential down the road.
“I played him with Brad Staubitz and Jamie Devane, but as he gets bigger and stronger over the next couple years he’d be a guy we slot in the 1-2 role,” said Spott.
The Marlies trailed the Penguins 2-0 after 40 minutes before starting their comeback in the third. Greg McKegg put Toronto on the board and after Brennan tied the game at two, Jerry D’Amigo completed the comeback in the final minute of regulation time with his 20th goal of the season.
Spott was more than thrilled to see his club claw back, especially with how much youth was in the lineup.
Along with Verhaeghe, Spott dressed fellow junior Fabrice Herzog, recent college graduate Eric Knodel and rookie Zachary Yuen, who has filled in for an injured Andrew MacWilliam on the blue line.
“A very inexperienced hockey club right now, so to do what we did in the third I’m very proud of our group,” said Spott.
Toronto has clinched the third spot in the Western Conference and has three games remaining on schedule.
The first two are on the road before the Marlies wrap up their regular season Apr. 19th at Ricoh Coliseum. Spott wants to use the games to prepare for the post-season, which means game action for Verhaeghe and Herzog will be minimal at best.
“We’ll probably play, definitely against Binghamton, a veteran team… Finally at home we want to make sure we got what we’ll start our playoff round with, or at least as close as possible,” said Spott.
Toronto may have to start the playoffs without MacWilliam, who is currently day-to-day with a concussion, and leading scorer Spencer Abbott, who will be out at least another two weeks with a shoulder injury.
On Monday the Leafs returned Holland, defenceman Petter Granberg and goaltender Drew MacIntyre to the Marlies. It’s expected that Carter Ashton will be returned as well once he is given medical clearance for whatever is ailing him.