On Tuesday, the Toronto Marlies announced that they have re-signed left-winger Tanner MacMaster, centre Giorgio Estephan, and defenseman Alex Gudbranson to one-year AHL contracts.
Tanner MacMaster came to the Toronto Marlies during the mid-season shuffle that saw a lot of movement at the fringes of the lineup in a hope for substantial change. MacMaster was traded to the Marlies from GM Gilman’s former team, the Utica Comets, in exchange for defenseman Stefan LeBlanc. While MacMaster will likely struggle to find a job on the Marlies next season, LeBlanc is a regular top-four defenseman for the Comets.
Full disclosure, I covered LeBlanc a lot in the OHL and I wasn’t a fan of the move. It’s nothing against MacMaster personally, but I just never saw what made him a player the Marlies needed to get. Lots of players show flashes of strong play — which MacMaster did for the Comets in their five-game series against the Marlies in 2018 — but it’s that consistency to produce and play higher in the lineup that pushes players above just being a tweener. We never saw that from MacMaster.
Giorgio Estephan played in the ECHL all of last year and is one of the young, bright talents that might find his way up a level next year. He scored 20 goals and 53 points in 69 regular season games for the Growlers, and followed it up with nine goals and 24 points in 23 playoff games this past spring. Esephan will be 22 this season and is a right-shot centre. Katya had a lot of nice things to say about him in this article below:
And finally, veteran defenseman Alex Gudbranson comes back to the Growlers for a second season. He’s been the beautifully bearded leader for Toronto’s ECHL team on and off the ice since 2017 (which is a long time in minor hockey). He will likely return as the alternate captain and be a good, steady presence for young defenseman like his partner Kristians Rubins.
We’ve had steady Marlies signing updates every day over the past week or so. To keep up with all the news, check out the Toronto Marlies hyperlink at PPP!