Today the Toronto Marlies signed defender Nolan Valleau to a PTO, allowing him to be called up from the Orlando Solar Bears to play in the AHL.
Valleau, who is 25, 6’1”, and American, despite the French name, was invited to the summer prospect camp by the Leafs, and ultimately stuck around for the AHL training camp after signing an ECHL contract.
In 36 games for Orlando he has eight goals and 22 assists and is a very important part of their team. He is currently third in points on the Solar Bears and 59th in points in the ECHL. He was the Solar Bears representative at the ECHL All-Star game a week ago.
Up until recently, the Marlies have had a very full complement of defenders, so full Michael Paliotta had only played in eight games. The Marlies traded him to the Texas Stars for the famous “future considerations” on January 11.
Travis Dermott is fully occupied on the Leafs, and will likely stay there until Morgan Rielly and Nikita Zaitsev are both healthy, and he may stay much longer than that.
That leaves lefties Andrew Nielsen, Calle Rosen, Martin Marincin, Rinat Valiev and Vincent LoVerde, along with righties Timothy Liljegren and Justin Holl.
Liljegren took a hard fall into the boards on Sunday, and Sheldon Keefe said after that he was banged up, but it wasn’t serious.
Valleau is a lefty, so he doesn’t help with that imbalance, but the only other AHL-contracted defenders on the Solar Bears are Sam Jardine, and the Marlies just had him up to get a look at him, and Jeff King. So rather than this move being about roster need, it might just be time to see how Valleau is doing. They may be thinking of making the AHL deal permanent. Valleau played two years of AHL for other teams after two years of NCAA hockey.
The Marlies next game is on Friday at home, finally, after a long and tiring road trip.
This story has been edited to correct the number of AHL-contracted defenders on the Solar Bears Roster.