On Tuesday morning, the Newfoundland Growlers sent centre Hudson Elynuik and right winger Zach O’Brien up to the Toronto Marlies, joining fellow Growlers forwards Brady Ferguson and Griffen Molino who were called up at various points this month.
Zach O’Brien is a 26-year-old right-winger/centre in his sixth professional season since graduating from the QMJHL where he posted 101 points in 63 games in his final season for the Acadie-Bathurst Titan. In his season with the Growlers so far, O’Brien has been the permanent first-line right wing usually next to Matt Bradley and Sam Babintsev. In that role, he’s put up 48 points in 40 games, taking only three minor penalties in that time. The Newfoundland native is a small, speedy winger who plays with a lot of skill and heart.
After the silkiest of toe drags by Zach O'Brien, Matt Bradley finishes the play for the @NLGrowlers to get them within one tally of the @BramptonBeast midway through the third period. pic.twitter.com/Yji2hEEK71— ECHL (@ECHL) February 7, 2019
Hudson Elynuik is a big 6’5”, 21-year-old centre in his first professional season. Elynuik joined the Marlies at the end of last season following his final year in the WHL. He posted 86 points in 71 games for the Spokane Chiefs before being a point-per-game in a seven-game first-round loss in the WHL playoffs. Elynuik has been playing with a pair of other Marlies ATOs from last season in Josh Kestner and Giorgio Estephan this season, posting 27 points in 32 games as a rookie. Elynuik is a former third-round pick of the Carolina Hurricanes back in 2016, but went unsigned before being picked up by the Marlies on an AHL contract.
Elynuik has also tended to earn a penalty minute per game in each of the last three seasons.
awful hit by hudson elynuik. jarret tyszka has been down on the ice for a while pic.twitter.com/KGbdPoJ2OV— william andrew michael junior nylander altelius (@DylanFremlin) September 9, 2018
These call-ups of AHL-contracted players come as a result of the forward corps taking a big hit in terms of top-end talent and depth. Mason Marchment and Chris Mueller are injured long term, and then Carl Grundstrom and Sam Gagner were lost to Los Angeles and Edmonton in a pair of trades. All four of those forwards were consistent, legitimate top-six forwards on the team, and their losses left a vacuum at the top of the lineup that is currently filled by a new first line of Trevor Moore, Adam Brooks, and Jeremy Bracco, but the depth has taken a hit with those players moved up.
There was speculation that the Marlies would trade for more help up front, especially after the insertion of Tanner MacMaster from Utica, but it looks like they have decided to go internal and see what they’ve got in Newfoundland. And smart on them because NFLD is currently sitting third in the ECHL with a 34-14-4 record this season.