Marchessault Adds Offense to Crunch Now, Later
The Tampa Bay Lightning acquired forwards Jonathan Audy-Marchessault and Dalton Smith from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for forward Dana Tyrell and defenseman Matt Taormina Wednesday, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.
Audy-Marchessault, 5-8, 184 pounds, has played in 56 games with the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League this season, recording 14 goals and 41 points. He leads the Falcons in games played, points and power play goals with seven. He ranks second for goals. Audy-Marchessault has been selected as an AHL All-Star the past two seasons. He has played in two career NHL games with Columbus, both during the 2012-13 season.
A native of Cap-Rouge, Quebec, Audy-Marchessault played four seasons in the QMJHL with the Quebec Remparts from 2007-11 and was undrafted.
Smith, 6-2, 214 pounds, has played in 50 games with Springfield this season, recording four goals and nine points. He leads the Falcons with 99 penalty minutes and also led the them in 2012-13 with 128.
A native of Oshawa, Ontario, Smith played in 196 games with the Ottawa 67’s of the Ontario Hockey League from 2008-12, recording 50 goals and 105 points. He was drafted by Columbus in the second round, 34th overall, of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
This is a good trade for Syracuse's future, and potentially Tampa Bay's. Yzerman has spent his time as GM of the Lightning acquiring skill and competitiveness, and Audy-Marchessault brings the skill (plus smarts and an admirable compete-level) and Smith brings the competitiveness. Most of the drafted prospects in the system project higher than the fourth line, but with the exception of someone like Cedrick Paquette, who has the offensive ability to play on most lines and the grit to play on the fourth. Dalton Smith is a guy who could one day fill a fourth line role in Tampa Bay as a banger. He doesn't have much, if any, offense to offer, but he skates well enough to be a BJ Crombeen-type player (and hopefully someone who can win the majority of his NHL fights). Roster composition is important, and fourth line banger is an undervalued puzzle piece that can't be filled by just anyone.
This is a lost season for Syracuse. Taorimina was a valuable part of the Crunch this year - maybe more than people realize. Take him off the roster and the green defense is a disaster (understandable growing pains). He was an unrestricted free agent at season's end. Tyrell was a restricted free agent, and as the longest tenured member of the Lightning organization after the departure of Martin St. Louis he was the product of a different regime. He was a candidate for Crunch captain next year if he was re-signed and Mike Angelidis was not, but skilled offensive players are harder to find than high-character grinders.
There are three defensemen set to join the Crunch next year from the junior ranks: Slater Koekkoek, Dylan Blujus, and Jake Dotchin. Expect a vet or two to be added to the back line, also. Henri Ikonen and Joel Vermin are scheduled to join the offense.
Next year's Crunch team will likely be led by Marchessault in scoring and Smith will keep the opposition honest. The Lightning wanted Marchessault as a free agent a couple years ago, so they finally got their man. He'll fill a role similar to what Cory Conacher filled for Norfolk and Syracuse. He has second line NHL upside per Hockey Prospectus, but he'll have to climb a young depth chart and overcome size concerns to get there. He will help Tanner Richard, Paquette, Vermin, and Ikonen next year grow into their AHL scoring-line roles.
This was a good trade for the organization as a whole.
(Photo from Audy-Marchessault.com)