Everybody loves Mason Marchment.
Seriously. He’s the guy you want to root for. He’s the guy who has worked really hard, exceeded everyone’s expectations, and has done the thing. It’s a classic feel good story. Watch and see.
“Cinco de Marchment.” Todd Crocker is a gem.
The Basic Facts
The now very tall and just-turned 23-year old Marchment was born in Uxbridge; a town on the frontier of the Toronto suburbs, but still far enough away it has yet to get GO Transit train service.
Marchment was not ever drafted. He spent his junior hockey time flipping between teams each year: the Otters, the Bulldogs, and finally the Steelheads. However, he clearly made an impression on someone in the Maple Leafs organization while playing junior hockey with the Mississauga Steelheads (with Alex Nylander, and Michael Nylander as the assistant coach.) After the Steelheads’ 2015-16 playoff run ended he was offered a try-out contract with the Marlies. Someone liked what they saw and decided to bring him on board the organization on an AHL contract for a longer trial the next season through the Orlando Solar Bears. In case you didn’t know, the Solar Bears are were the ECHL affiliate of the Maple Leafs.
As an aside, there is a required shout out due now to both Anthony Noreen and Drake Berehowsky, the Solar Bears coaches who were very patient with a novice hockey reporter peppering them with perhaps silly questions several years ago [HEY. - Acha]. Also, a shout out goes the incomparable ECHL reporter Don Money Jr., whom may or may not live in an apartment in the rafters of the Solar Bears arena like Gordon Pinsent did playing the team owner on the TV Show ‘Power Play’.
Finally, a shout out goes to the best hockey mascot in the ECHL, Shades!
Mason Makes It
Let’s start with a look at his raw stats.
|Orlando Solar Bears||ECHL||35||14||6||20||27|
You can’t separate the Marchment story from the “Kyle Dubas Three-Tiered Development Program” story. It’s a narrative that is perhaps overemphasized at times, but then you have Mason Marchment there and see him play and be a key contributor to the Marlies Calder Cup win and it’s hard to think it isn’t a real actual thing. Dubas sees the ECHL as a place to put some hidden gem who has very raw potential but needs extra time to develop. Orlando became the place to pan for gold, and Marchment has become the emblem of success for this philosophy for Leafs fans.
I asked Katya, who had Marchment ranked highest at 19, and Kevin, who had him unranked, why they put him where they did.
Mason Marchment is not a modern hockey player built on speed and finesse and with a shot that impresses. He’s not short, slight or a great skater. Marchment is also not a throwback to his father’s days of fighting, holding, roughing and obstruction.
He’s a utility winger who scores at a middle six rate in the AHL. His secondary assists are very high, so it pays to look at his more reasonable Primary Points/Game (P1/GP) which is .36, enough to class him as a second line player, just. He’s never been used in that role, however. He’s been a bottom six winger in the rotation of players Sheldon Keefe worked through to get both checking and scoring value out of all four lines on his team.
You know who had .35 P1/GP this year? Trevor Moore. Moore does it more with primary assists than goals, and there’s a case to be made that Moore is a more of a creative offensive force. But Marchment gets assumed to be a physical player and Moore, who is short and fast, is perceived to be some other flavour entirely.
I think Moore is a bit better, not a lot, but some, but I think they both are very close to being the sort of auxiliary NHL wingers a team like the Leafs is going to keep needing to fill spots on lines that are tasked with both scoring and checking.
It’s possible, probable even, given where they’ve been ranked in this list, that both of them top out at very good AHLers. Neither are going to develop in dramatic ways now, but I think they both have the potential to grow into an NHL role.
These are two players where I slid back my emphasis on age this year and did pay some more attention to NHL proximity. And yes, there are younger, newer prospects about whom we have more uncertainty, but for now, I’m happy seeing both of these guys in the middle of the pack, well outside the sure things, but above the faint hopes. - Katya
Katya makes a good case, but enter Kevin Papetti for a different point of view.
I placed Mason Marchment in the same tier as Pierre Engvall and Jordan Subban, but he ended up being the final cut from my T25U25 list. The progress he made last season was incredible, as he worked his way from being an ECHL-caliber player to a valuable contributor on the AHL’s championship team.
He’s a fairly average skater and puck carrier, rather than above average, and he’s not a regular on the team’s penalty kill. He’s one year younger than Morgan Rielly, and while I can see him developing into a top-six forward with the Marlies next year, he already had his big breakout season and he’s physically mature.
I see him as a bottom-six forward at the AHL level, at least for now. He’s 6’4” and gets on his opponent’s nerves, so there’s a chance that he can continue to work his way up into a 4th line NHL role someday, but I will be a little bit surprised if he ends up with a long NHL career. I will be rooting for him, but I still think it’s a bit of a long-shot at this point. - Kevin
What cannot be ignored is that Marchment himself has set the expectations bar high for this coming season. On a relative basis, I think only Pierre Engvall and Trevor Moore have higher expectations for moving up their place on the Marlies depth chart from last season (I am excluding Travis Dermott and Andreas Johnsson as I consider them to be full-time Leafs players already).
Marchment’s game is seemingly chaotic at times, though he can use that to his advantage. The number of times I was shaking my head and saying “what is Marchment doing,” only to then see him get the puck and score anyway was enough to make me think there must be method to the madness of his play. However, I am not certain that translates well to the NHL level. At lower levels chaos can be harnessed to your advantage, but at the top level it is more of a liability than an asset.
What’s Next for Marchment?
I was at a Marlies practice during that long pause the team had after the conference final round of the playoffs and got to talk to him. He was one of the last off the ice that day, staying out to practice puck deflections into the net. I asked him what he was up to, and his response was simply “I just like practicing that.”
That’s the vibe I get from Marchment any time I talk to him. He really is that guy who just loves playing hockey. If you need more evidence, look at his reaction to scoring here.
What can Marchment realistically expect to achieve in the future? As Gordon Pinset’s character on that Power Play clip above said: “strange things happen, kid.” Perhaps Marchment really does have more to offer than people have so far noticed from casual observation. I can see him get his chance for a tryout with the Leafs in a game this season.
That’s why I have him ranked in our Top 25.