April 22nd, 2014
TORONTO- The Toronto Marlies expect to have a healthy Carter Ashton back in the lineup when the post-season begins.
Ashton missed the final two games of the AHL season with a knee injury suffered while playing with the Maple Leafs, but is back on the ice preparing for Game 1 against the Milwaukee Admirals which goes on Apr. 25.
“He’s skating now (at practice) and our expectation is he’ll be back for the first game,” said Marlies head coach Steve Spott.
While Ashton has struggled to score with the big club, he’s been an offensive threat all season with the Marlies, registering 16 goals and 23 points in 24 games, and will be a key piece of their playoff success.
Centre Peter Holland, right-winger Spencer Abbott and defenceman Andrew MacWilliam also missed the end of the regular season with injuries as well. Spott listed Holland as day-to-day by with a lower-body injury and should be ready to go for Game 1. MacWilliam has been out with a concussion since Mar. 31 and is also day-to-day while Abbott has been out with a shoulder injury since Apr. 4. It’s unclear if Abbott will be ready to go, however his original diagnosis had him out four weeks from the time of injury.
The game plan against the Admirals, according to Spott, will be to use both veterans and the prospects because it’s important for the young players in the system to get some playoff experience and the club doesn’t want to sacrifice winning solely for development.
“We’ll move guys in and out of the lineup,” said Spott.
Toronto finished the regular season with a 4-3 win against the Rochester Americans on Saturday, but played without majority of their regulars in the lineup because the outcome of the game had no effect on the standings.
Prospect Sam Carrick scored twice for the Marlies, including the winner, and received some major praise from Spott post-game.
“He’s such a versatile player,” said Spott. “I’ll tell you what, he’ll play in the NHL, I’m a believer.”
Frederik Gauthier, the Leafs top pick from the 2013 draft, joined the Marlies on Monday after signing an amateur try-out contract. He is the third junior prospect to jump aboard as Carter Verhaeghe and Fabrice Herzog were added to the roster in mid-April.
Currently the only other junior prospect eligible to join Toronto is Ryan Rupert. According to Marlies GM Dave Poulin, however, it is unlikely he will join the club because the London Knights hockey season isn’t technically over as they will host the memorial Cup on May 16.
Potential lineup to start the playoffs
Josh Leivo-Greg McKegg-Carter Ashton
Jerry D’Amigo-Peter Holland-Sam Carrick
David Broll-Trevor Smith-Brandon Kozun
Jamie Devane-Jerred Smithson-Brad Staubitz
Andrew MacWilliam-Korbinian Holzer
Stuart Percy-Petter Granberg
T.J. Brennan-Eric Knodel
Forwards includes, Kenny Ryan, Spencer Abbott, Tyler Biggs, Frazer McLaren, Brad Ross, Carter Verhaeghe, Fabrice Herzog and Frederik Gauthier.
Defence includes, Kevin Marshall, Dylan Yeo, Zach Yuen and goaltender Christopher Gibson.