Jan 23, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Carter Ashton (37) skates in warm-ups prior to the game against the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center. The Stars defeated the Maple Leafs 7-1. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Toronto Marlies – Carter Ashton – #18 for Marlies / #37 for Maple Leafs
Position: Left/Right Wing (shoots L)
Birthplace: Winnipeg, Manitoba
How he got here: Drafted 29th, round one, 2009. Tampa Bay Lightning. Traded to the Maple Leafs for Keith Aulie.
Contract Status: Signed to a one-year contract (RFA)
Ashton is a power forward who operates best in the corners or in tight to the goal.
2013-2014 Season Recap
Ashton solidified himself as a player who looks drastically different in the AHL compared to the NHL last year. For the Maple Leafs, Ashton was a little-used fourth liner who had three points in 32 games. For the Toronto Marlies he was an offensive force, with 23 points in 24 games, before adding nine more in 12 playoff games.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Ashton is a big mucker, the kind of player you send into battles deep in the offensive zone and will retrieve the puck. He’s also a solid goalie screen as he’s big and hard to move, but has the offensive ability for tips or to tuck in rebounds.
He’s not particularly strong on the rush despite good speed for a player of his size.
In the NHL he often appeared lost in his role as a fourth-line checker. In his own zone Ashton can’t use his considerable frame the way he wants and doesn’t have the quick agility to get into passing lanes.
It’s worth noting that the best David Clarkson looked all season last year was with Ashton on his line – the third line – where they could be aggressive fore-checkers who beat up the opposition with body checks and were hard to move.
Maple Leafs Depth Chart
Ashton is in a strange position, as a right winger (though he shoots left). He could easily still be in the mix with the Maple Leafs, as after Phil Kessel the Leafs are extremely weak on the right side. His main competition for the final three spots are David Clarkson, Matt Frattin and Colton Orr.
That being said, the Leafs have too many good players at centre of left wing for them to not be moved over to the right side. Mike Santorelli, Petri Kontiola, Peter Holland, Leo Komarov, Daniel Winnik, David Booth and Troy Bodie are all NHL or KHL players who could and should stick with the Maple Leafs. Not to mention William Nylander, Josh Leivo, David Broll, Spencer Abbott or Brandon Kozun who all have a shot.
That means if Ashton can’t solidify a top nine role, and when you consider that Phil Kessel and David Clarkson are locks to be on the right side, he may spend the entire year with the Marlies.
His father, Brent Ashton, played 998 career NHL games and holds the dubious distinction as being the most traded player, switching teams nine times. The record has since been tied by Mike Sillinger.
2014-2015 Season Potential
It’s not make or break time on the career of Carter Ashton, but that time is quickly approaching. With all the depth the Maple Leafs have brought in, combined by the fact that he has a two-way contract and will for the first time have to clear waivers to be sent down to the Toronto Marlies, all signs point to Ashton playing this year with the Marlies.
If that’s the case, he’ll be counted on as a top six forward who is responsible for offense and covering the dirty areas in the other teams zone. He’ll need to use this time to improve defensively so that his next shot with the Maple Leafs, which may be his last, works out.
If the Leafs are unimpressed with him at the NHL level they may trade him rather than let him sit all year in the AHL. As a young former first rounder with clear AHL skill, another team may take a chance on him.
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