The Toronto Marlies have signed 2018-19 OHL top scorer Justin Brazeau to a two-year AHL contract
The deal will carry a $70,000 annual salary and a $60,000 signing bonus per year, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger. He also added that Brazeau could sign a deal with another NHL team, but the Marlies would have to terminate his contract and the Leafs could match any offer if they want to.
Brazeau’s season came to an end last week when the Battalion were bounced from the playoffs by the Niagara IceDogs in five games.
He only managed a single goal during the first-round series, but his regular season went much better. Brazeau finished the season with 61 goals and 113 points in 68 games, which was good for second best in the OHL behind only Niagara’s Jason Robertson.
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The Marlies are getting all their weapons in order at the right time. The team has been adding to their defensive core, for the most part, adding Joseph Duszak and Eemeli Rasanen, among others, over the past month.
Forward wise, the team just got back some of its biggest contributors. Chris Mueller returned in the middle of March after missing a month with a hamstring injury and Mason Marchment just returned to the lineup after missing a couple of months with an upper-body injury. 2017 sixth-round pick Ryan McGregor also joined the team on an amateur tryout and there’s a possibility that the team brings in more talent up front – like 2016 second-rounder Yegor Korshkov.
Brazeau is a very skilled forward, but the one area where he needs improvement – like many bigger players – is his skating. Luckily for him, the Leafs have one of the best skating coaches in the entire league in Barb Underhill.
The former figure skater has most recently been able to help get 6-foot-5 Frederik Gauthier. He also dealt with skating issues throughout his time in junior. Since coming up to pro, he’s gotten progressively better, and now, he looks completely up to speed in the NHL.
Offensively, however, there’s no question what Brazeau brings to the table. He has a very soft touch for a man his size and can rip the puck when he gets the room. His frame obviously helps him create an imposing presence in front and he can also use his size to drive the net for scoring chances.
The Marlies play three times in as many days this weekend. They lost the first game on Thursday to the Hershey Bears. Brazeau could end up playing in at least one of the remaining games this weekend. He’ll see time down the stretch and, likely, some playoff action.
As for the contract, it’s a bargain for one of the most exciting undrafted free agents on the market. If he can improve on his skating, he’ll be a very intriguing player to watch develop over the next year.
What do you think of the signing? Who would you like to see Brazeau play with on the Marlies? Where does he fit into the Leafs’ organizational plans going forward? Let us know in the comments below!