This past Wednesday, both Toronto teams made deals to benefit their farm system.
- The Toronto Maple Leafs announced that the club has acquired forward Max Veronneau from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for forward Aaron Luchuk and a conditional sixth-round pick in 2021.
- The Toronto Marlies announced that the club has acquired defenseman Trent Bourque from the Belleville Senators in exchange for forward Darren Archibald.
Starting with the trade made by the big club first, Max Veronneau is an interesting acquisition with some possible upside, at least at the AHL level. The Ottawa native skated in 130 games with the Princeton Tigers (NCAA) from 2015-19, recording 52 goals and 92 assists for 144 points — good for fourth all-time in Princeton history. He was a Hobey Baker nominee in both 2017-18 and 2018-19.
Veronneau put up four points (2-2-4) in 12 games for the Ottawa Senators last year and has suited up four times in this NHL this season. The right-winger was buried behind a ton of top-end offensive talent in Belleville this year and has had to make do with a bottom-six role, which accounts for why his numbers aren’t looking too flashy in his rookie season.
A total of five goals and as many assists through 33 games certainly doesn’t jump off the page, but nine of those 10 points are primary markers, including four on the power play — an area where Marlies could use some help right now.
The only question mark with the 24-year-old is that he’s been out of action since January 15, 2020 with an undisclosed injury.
It comes as no surprise to me that Toronto was willing to let Aaron Luchuk move on even though he‘s two years younger than Veronneau.
While he has put up 50 points in 45 games for the Newfoundland Growlers this season, Luchuk has received limited opportunities with the Marlies despite the AHL club losing a multitude of forwards to injuries and call-ups. After suiting up just three times for Toronto and not receiving a recall in the latest batch of players called up from Newfoundland, it was clear the organization wasn’t highly invested in him.
A deal made between the Toronto Marlies and Belleville Senators — on the same day as the Panthers and Leafs trade — is intriguing as you rarely see divisional rivals doing business at this time of year with both in the playoff mix. However, Belleville is so far clear in the standings of Toronto that it probably makes no difference to them. The two NHL organizations have also been frequent trading partners in the past.
Darren Archibald, meanwhile, has been somewhat of a disappointment for the Toronto Marlies. His performances have lacked the type of spark and physicality I’ve come to expect of the winger during his time in Utica. Sometimes a player never quite fits into a new environment; that’s how I ultimately felt about Archibald during his time in Toronto.
Archibald will return to a team he played for last season and where he has enjoyed offensive success before, so it’s clear why the Senators were keen to acquire a forward who will perfectly fit into a bottom-six role and provide some leadership in this his 10th season in the American Hockey League.
The addition of Trent Bourque provides some much-needed cover on the blue line, with Toronto having lost Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren to call-ups as well as Ben Harpur, Jesper Lindgren, and now possibly Joseph Duszak to injury.
The Marlies have already reassigned Bourque to the Newfoundland Growlers of the ECHL, where the 21-year-old is already well versed after putting up 20 points (3-17-20) in 42 games with the Brampton Beast this year.
Borque was selected by St. Louis in the sixth round (175th overall) of the 2017 NHL Draft and played for Sudbury Wolves and Owen Sound Attack junior his five-year junior career. After going unsigned by his NHL organization, the defenseman turned professional this season, penning a one-year AHL deal with Belleville.
In summary, these aren’t deals that are going to move the needle significantly, but fresh faces and opportunities can often have a positive effect on a roster. The Toronto Marlies strike me as a team that could use that at this point in time. Max Veronneau is certainly the standout player — given a larger role and a change of scenery, it might prove to be a nice piece of business.