Perhaps one of the more frustrating trades the Toronto Maple Leafs have made in recent years, at least with hindsight, is dealing away Mason Marchment.
Just imagine if the Toronto Maple Leafs kept Mason Marchment, instead of dealing for Denis Malgin. After all, Malgin is now in the Swiss National League, whereas Marchment is a point-per-game NHL guy with the Florida Panthers.
The obvious result would’ve been having zero need to acquire Nick Ritchie on a bloated deal and then give up potentially a second-round pick to be rid of him.
Denis Malgin is the archetype of the player Kyle Dubas has typically pursued. The Toronto Maple Leafs roster is based around skill and skating ability; two traits that often don’t align with bigger-bodied guys.
What exactly did the Toronto Maple Leafs give up when they traded Mason Marchment?
Mason Marchment is a bigger-bodied guy, maybe lacking a little in terms of skating ability, but he’s a net-front guy, not afraid to play physical and has quite the shot.
In other words, exactly the kind of player the Leafs went out to free agency for when they picked up Ritchie. They had that exact player, maybe lacking a little NHL experience compared to Ritchie, in the organisation already.
The big frustration with the Toronto Maple Leafs giving up on Mason Marchment is the sheer fact he reflects the exact development path that Kyle Dubas has preached wanting to create.
That path sees a player graduate through all three tiers of the organization, from the ECHL, to the AHL and finally to the NHL.
In Marchment’s case, he came through the Orlando Solar Bears, before sticking around with the Toronto Marlies and seeing a very brief 4 NHL games with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Obviously, that pathway has changed ever so slightly with the change of ECHL affiliate, namely the Newfoundland Growlers, but the nuts-and-bolts of it remain the same. Developing talent through three tiers is going to be key to maintaining a prospect pipeline when draft picks are used as trade capital.
This season, the Toronto Maple Leafs have watched on as Mason Marchment has broken out with the Florida Panthers.
On a line (per Frozen Tools) 33.1% of the time, with Sam Reinhart and Anton Lundell, he’s managed to hit the net 11 times, adding 17 assists through 27 games.
You can make a strong argument that he’s riding an unsustainable shooting percentage; his current rate of 20.4% certainly is rather high. Consider an elite shooter like Auston Matthews operates around 16.6% and it’s clear that this might be Mason Marchment’s outlier of a season.
Fact of the matter is, whether this year does prove to be an outlier or indeed is sustained by Mason Marchment, the Toronto Maple Leafs gave up on a player that had spent years in their system.
The moment he left their system, he was given better chances to crack the NHL roster and has proven himself to belong. If the Toronto Maple Leafs are genuinely keen on building sustained success, they shouldn’t be moving out their own draftees. Acquiring Denis Malgin was a depth move (at best) at the time and failed to move the needle then, nor does it move the needle now.
Keeping Mason Marchment would’ve been smarter business, highlighting a true commitment to building someone from within, rather than simply hitting the trade market at every given opportunity.