The Toronto Marlies have extended 22-year-old forward Hudson Elynuik to a one-year AHL contract, keeping him on for a third season following a strong first full season with the Marlies. Elynuik is a 6’5” centre out of the WHL who impressed from the fourth line in 53 games, scoring five goals and 13 points. Elynuik was initially drafted in 2016 by the Carolina Hurricanes in the third round, but went unsigned before joining the Marlies on an AHL contract.
Elynuik was one only seven Marlies to play more than 20 games on an AHL contract this past season. Kristians Rubins earned an NHL contract after his rookie season, Scott Pooley earned another year on an AHL deal like Elynuik, Darren Archibald and Nicholas Baptiste were both traded, and Matt Read and Tanner MacMaster have yet to determine their futures.
Elynuik was a solid fourth line centre for the Marlies, a position he played 37 times, playing on the second and third lines a combined 16 times. He and Scott Pooley both brought a degree of size and consistency to the line after Pooley earned a call-up to the AHL following injuries at the NHL level.
Elynuik does have some shortcomings to his game, the most obvious one I noticed is that he takes a long time to get his shot off and often he’ll get the puck stripped from him in the process of shooting or the goalie will have time to set up. For his size he’s got good speed, and it isn’t a concern at the AHL level, but it’s not impressive either.
Elynuik has a ways to go before he gets offered an NHL contract, but a strong rookie season has definitely helped shone a more clear path to one.
Growlers signing elsewhere
We’ve also received word over the past month that five players are set to leave the Toronto Marlies and Newfoundland Growlers for opportunities in Europe. Here’s who they are and here’s what we know.
Brady Ferguson to SHL (Rogle BK)
Centre Brady Ferguson (25) joined the Marlies after graduating Robert Morris University. He joined the Marlies, but only got in 14 games with the team across two and a bit seasons despite back-to-back seasons with more points than games played in the ECHL. Ferguson finished his ECHL career with 54 goals and 121 points in 106 games playing as the first or second centre on the Growlers. But despite that, he never got a sustained call-up from the Marlies, a team that regularly had winger Tanner MacMaster at centre.
He now leaves for Sweden and joins a really good organization in Rogle who finished tied for second in the SHL last season.
Michael Kapla to Allsvenskan (Vasterviks IK)
Defenseman Michael Kapla (25) is heading to the second tier of Swedish hockey after one year playing between Toronto and Newfoundland. Kapla was assistant captain on the Growlers and played quite well with the Marlies in a depth role. He played five NHL games with the New Jersey Devils in 2017 after graduating UMass-Lowell as captain of their Men’s team. He signed a one-year AHL contract with the Marlies before the start of last season.
Zach O’Brien and Marcus Power to DEL2 (EV Landshut)
RW Zach O’Brien (27) and C Marcus Power (26) are going to Germany as a package deal. The two were great together as a top-six C-RW combination for the Newfoundland Growlers. Both are from St. John’s and have been top-of-the-lineup players since the franchise’s inception. They will be dearly missed on the Rock, I’m sure.
Franchise Moment— Newfoundland Growlers (@NLGrowlers) February 24, 2019
With an assist on the Marcus Power goal, St. John's native Zach O'Brien becomes the first #Growler in franchise history to hit the 50 point plateau. #StandOnGuard pic.twitter.com/z9Z9BAia2E
Matt Bradley *unconfirmed to Czech2 (HC Poruba)
This was an interesting report. HC Poruba’s Facebook page asked their fans if they wanted former Marlies centre Matt Bradley on the team next season in a post. EliteProspects took this as a rumour that Bradley could be headed there. As of yet, there is no official word of his signing with the team.
I’ve been keeping up-to-date with all the AHL contracts the Marlies and Growlers give out for the past few years, and there’s usually a lot of names. The Marlies are likely the only team that ices mostly NHL-contracted players on their AHL team and mostly AHL-contracted players on their ECHL team.
I have yet seen an AHL deal go longer than two years in my time so there’s naturally a lot of turnover and contract renewals that need to take place every season. Here’s an update on where the Marlies currently stand in terms of AHL contracts. (All ages as of July 1st, 2020).
- Justin Brazeau (RW, 22)
- Colt Conrad (C, 23)
Both Brazeau and Conrad were given two-year AHL contracts that expire at the end of next season. Fans are keen to see Brazeau in the AHL next season and after the year he had, it’s likely warranted. I see a lot of Trevor Moore’s path in Conrad, let’s see what he can do with more ice time and a possible permanent role on the Marlies next year.
- Gordie Green (RW, 23)
- Bobby McMann (C, 24)
- Jeremy McKenna (RW, 21)
- Noel Hoefenmayer (LD, 21)
Green and McMann are signees out of the NCAA, Hoefenmayer comes from the OHL (where he earned OHL Defenseman of the Year and CHL Defenseman of the Year honours in 2020), and McKenna is a shooter from the QMJHL. All four were given two-year AHL contracts.
It’s likely all will head to the Newfoundland Growlers for next season. That’s been the case for most/all prospects coming out of amateur hockey. Especially for Hoefenmayer where there are up to eight defensemen on NHL contracts slated for the Marlies.
- Scott Pooley (RW, 26)
- Hudson Elynuik (C, 22)
Pooley and Elynuik each got a one-year extension on their AHL contracts after strong seasons in the bottom six, but you already knew that. Another player extended was Kristians Rubins, who earned an NHL ELC with the Maple Leafs.
- Riley Woods (C, 22)
- Giorgio Estephan (C, 23)
- Matt Read (RW, 34)
- Rich Clune (LW, 33)
- Tanner MacMaster (LW, 24)
- Trey Bradley (LW, 24)
- Miles Gendron (LD, 24
- Trent Bourque (LD, 22)
- Sergei Sapego (LD, 20)
- Alex Gudbranson (RD, 25)
- Parker Gahagen (G, 27)
- Maksim Zhukov (G, 20)
Last season the Marlies had 21 players on AHL contracts, 15 played in any AHL games, and only six of them had more than 10 games played. At the current moment, the Marlies have 12 pending AHL free agents and eight players signed, so they’re on pace to have about as many AHL contracts as they did this year, as long as they sign everyone on the list above.
We haven’t received a clue as to whether Read or Clune will be back next season. Part of me wonders if this is it for Clune’s time in Toronto, I’m not certain he still wants to be here (just my speculation).
I would expect the Marlies to retain Woods, Estephan, they’ve all been good players who I expect to be on the Marlies full-time. Same with MacMaster who basically played first line centre all year. Woods had a stellar season for the Growlers and showed as much skill in the AHL in the final 10 or so games before the season ended. I wanted him on the Marlies all season and I hope he’s there next year, especially since centre depth is so thin at the moment.
Gahagen will get a contract if he wants to backup in the ECHL behind one of Woll or Scott. This time last year most goalies didn’t want to do that and left for different opportunities.
There are some good players I would expect the Growlers to take up, including Bradley, Gendron, Bourque, and Sapego. Gudbranson has been with the team since the start and been a big leader so I can’t really see him leaving. Zhukov didn’t have a great first pro year, I’m not sure he’ll get an extension.