Marlies bring back Rich Clune, will add Dmytro Timashov

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.

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.

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.

  • The Craig

    Perhaps this is the best explanation yet for the Martin signing. Having a guy who knows how to handle the rough stuff, can protect himself and plays with an edge can help other guys develop that for themselves. With so many young players potentially on the team next year maybe Martin is the Clune of the NHL.

    • Yeah. That’s something I brought up in “12 things to consider about the Matt Martin signing”. The specific point:

      “I also feel that Martin could benefit the team not so much in protecting the young players, but in teaching them. Contrary to popular belief, toughness can be taught much easier than skill if you get to the player young enough. The Marlies are a good example of this: Nikita Soshnikov came into the season as an unassuming skilled forward. A few months with Rich Clune turned a kid who barely spoke English into a pest with puck skills when he got to the NHL. I don’t think having Matt Martin is going to protect William Nylander and Mitch Marner very much, but he could be useful in making them be able to fend for themselves.”

      Ultimately my skepticism with Martin is the term (and the fact that we’re probably overselling the value of shot suppression stats in general to justify the move in ways it doesn’t have to be justified). But so long as he’s here, I think that type of development of team toughness is something that he can help with, no question.

      • JB#1

        I just don’t understand why they didn’t sign Clune instead of Martin for 1 year 1 mill or something. He had 4 assists in 19 games basically on pace for 17ish points, he would probably be in a better was as well with a full pre season under his belt.
        This is why I hate the Martin signing even if it’s not Rich Clune they could have got anyone for 1 year 1 mill to do the same thing!

  • Trevor5555

    Good moves to bring back Clune. He’s a gritty, hard working charector guy who was well liked by teammates. Cliche and Smith bring depth down the middle. Both are well rounded players who can play center or wing. Smith is pretty young at 23. Timashov looks like a promising prospect with some skill and scoring touch.

    We have 12 forwards under the age of 25 and this depth will really help the Leafs going forward. There are 5-6 guys on the Marlies who could likely make the Leafs out of camp and the Marlies should be a very strong team again this year. If the goaltending improves this team could challenge for 50 maybe even 60 wins.

  • Gary Empey

    With so many of last years draft picks exceeding expectations, I think it is going to take some real good management skills to place them all so they can continue their development. The overage group from this years draft will also have to find a place to play. It is a good position to be in but could get a little dicey.

    Someone mentioned after this years draft.

    The Leafs may have intentionally chose some players who can stay overseas for development.

  • Gary Empey

    I am so excited to see Timashov in the AHL. A point per game in the World Juniors? He should do well in the AHL and might even peak in 5 years as top 6 forward in the NHL. A point per game in the World Juniors indicates that the raw skill is there.

    A top 6 forward from the 5th round? That would help the rebuild. I just hope they let him develop and don’t trade him prematurely.

    • Harte of a Lion

      Timashov is an awesome prospect but Connor Brown was also a late round pick, a 6th rounder who for whatever reason, found his game a bit later and should be considered as a player with top six skill.

  • magesticRAGE

    so happy to see timashov joining the marlies. that means a lot of marlies will graduate to the leafs post-deadline. he’ll tear that league up too. he has the biggest potential to be a top 6 winger on the leafs. hope he can be a zuccarello type player. undersized, excellent and fast playmaker with great vision. he said st. louis was his favourite player. if he’s even a quarter of him, it’s a win for a 5th round pick.

  • magesticRAGE

    Timashov will excel in the AHL, even the NHL for that matter, as long as he plays alongside teammates with scoring prowess. Here’s a great distributor, and one of those players that need a more structured game. It’s why he was so good in the WJC, arguable Sweden’s best player. The tournament plays a more structured game compared to the more scrambley nature of junior. It happens to smart players. Dimytro was great during preseason, really showed quality decision making off the half-wall on the power-play. There are only a select few situations that the Leaf’s trade him, and I don’t count on it.
    BTW, love the clune signing.