Just hours after the Toronto Marlies announced the signing of Marc-Andre Cliche to go along with Colin Smith, two more moves have been made. Or, better said: two more roster moves have been revealed. The Marlies have agreed to terms with Rich Clune, while 2015 draft pick Dmytro Timashov has revealed his plan for next year.
— Toronto Marlies (@TorontoMarlies) July 4, 2016
Clune is a veteran signing for the team and one that just about everybody saw coming. The 29-year-old Toronto native seems more than content with settling down and playing in his hometown until his next opportunity to chase the NHL dream comes. Last year, he signed an AHL contract in July and turned it into an NHL deal with the Leafs about a month into the season, filling in as a call-up at points in the season.
In 19 games with the Leafs, Clune had no goals and four assists. His first call-up was rocky as he was quickly tossed from a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on October 31st, but he contributed as a run-of-the-mill fourth liner in his further stints.
Clune’s value was most apparent on the Marlies, though. In 49 games, Clune put up 8 goals and 16 assists with a +20 rating, filling in as the team’s enforcer and pest when necessary. He was the primary forechecker on a line with Frederik Gauthier and Nikita Soshnikov, that ended up being one of the toughest bottom-six trios to face in the league.
His game hit its peak in Toronto’s second-round playoff series against the Albany Devils, in the sense that he kept himself composed at a time where the team desperately needed to not let themselves get distracted by several dirty moments from their opponents. Clune’s patience and spot picking was rewarded late in Game 7, where he scored the series-winning goal.
In a development league where dollar figures aren’t directly attached to roster composition and roster sizes are a bit bigger, having a player or two like Clune on your roster is a wise strategy. Not only is he a solid enough player at this level, but his style of play is something that you can rub off onto a more skilled player in the right circumstance. Soshnikov is the best example; rather than see Clune as a bodyguard, he absorbed tricks of the trade for himself, and showed up for his NHL call up with a pesty side of his own attached to him. Developing a roster of players who can play and protect themselves is a dream scenario, and if a veteran like Clune can help with that, he’s an asset worth having at the AHL level.
— Dhiren Mahiban (@dcmahiban) July 4, 2016
I don’t think too many people are surprised by Timashov heading to the pro ranks next year, though there was an outside chance that he could have been sent back to junior for a Draft+2 season. Drafted in the 5th Round of last year’s draft (125th overall), the Ukranian-born Swede scored 103 points (35 goals and 78 assists) in 78 regular season and playoff games with Quebec and Shawinigan of the QMJHL.
As a CHL draft pick, Timashov had to wait until his Age 20 season to play in the AHL. He turns 20 on October 1st, which makes him eligible. Timashov also represented Sweden in the World Juniors, playing on the team’s top line and scoring 7 points in as many games. Timashov is capable of playing both wings, which is useful given Toronto’s depth on both sides.