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Toronto Maple Leafs have sent defenseman Keith Aulie to the Tampa Bay Lightning in return for Norfolk Admirals forward Carter Ashton. Ashton, a former first round pick (29th overall in 2009), has 18 goals and 35 points in 59 games in his first AHL season.

A “hockey trade” here as the Leafs took a piece from their defensive depth and added a good, somewhat raw prospect who has a big body and power forward potential. Tampa Bay makes their second addition to their sorely lacking defensive depth.

Said Aulie: “Didn’t see it coming at all, pretty shocked right now.”

Korbinian Holzer brings a similar skill set as Aulie and seems to have won over the favour of Leafs brass this season, so the Leafs take an expendable piece and add a forward with size and first round pedigree to the prospect cupboard. Seems like a good move.



Guy Boucher said of Ashton following a preseason game in September:

Carter Ashton was one of our guys doing a great job in front of the net. He—s a very, very hardworking kid with an amazing attitude, I really enjoyed him. Everything we wanted to teach he wanted to do, and he wanted to do more, and I thought he did very good in the games.. a big boy too that can skate, not a lot of those guys around, they—re rare. He—s a real power forward. We use that word very often with guys that don—t really deserve that name but in this case he—s the real deal and he—s going to be a good player.

Those promising words from the Lightning head coach were echoed by former Tampa GM Brian Lawton, who drafted Ashton 29th at the 2009 overall draft. Lawton said on the Sportsnet telecast: Excellent trade for the Leafs. He—s a kid who will be in the NHL for 10-12 years.

On the Leafs side of it, Rick Dudley told MLHS: [Ashton has] Size, speed, pretty good puck skills, real good bite, great shot. In other words, a complete player, 3rd line, perhaps 2nd.

Director of amateur scouting Dave Morrison added We like Carter—s size and power potential. He is young and addresses a need for us. The development of some our young defenders with the Marlies allowed us to make this deal.