Mason Marchment: Leafs prospect, son of former NHL player, following own path

Author: Dhiren Mahiban, sportingnews.com
Date: Nov 3, 2017

TORONTO - - Mason Marchment has always been a late bloomer. He didn’t start playing Tier II junior hockey until the age of 18 in Cobourg and didn’t make the jump to the Ontario Hockey League with Erie until 19.

As a result, the Maple Leafs decided to take a more college-like approach to Marchment’s development last season. The Uxbridge, Ont. native appeared in just 44 games split between the AHL’s Toronto Marlies and ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears - the rest of Marchment’s 2016-17 season was focused on skill development with Mike Ellis and improving his skating with instructor Barb Underhill.

Marchment’s dedication to improving has paid off as he leads all Marlies with four goals in six games this season and is amongst the AHL rookie leaders in scoring.

“He’s come a real long way and he’s a nice example of a player that just trusted the process that we put in place for him last year,” said Marlies coach Sheldon Keefe. “He didn’t play a lot. We felt he was one player that what he needed was time away from games. We felt that he needed to take care of his body, he needed to get stronger, he needed to put on weight, he needed to work on his skating – all things that you can’t really do if you’re focused on trying to prepare for games.

“We put a process in place, got him some time in Orlando, got him some time with us when it called for it. Every player’s development is different and calls for different plans for each player. He’s a good example of a guy that just stuck with it and did the work.”

Marchment’s work last season and throughout the summer caught the eye of Leafs brass at training camp. Despite not having an NHL contract, he was given an extended look, making it past the first round of cuts in September.  

“I think he’s just worked hard and competed hard,” Mike Babcock said during camp. “He’s a guy obviously who has gotten better. We seem to like him and so we’re giving him every opportunity to see what’s going on and see what it’s like to be a pro and try to get better.”

Marchment had someone familiar to lean on while at Leafs camp in Patrick Marleau, who played alongside Mason’s father, Bryan Marchment, during his five seasons in San Jose.

“I think I had dinner over at the Marchments’ house once or twice and remember the kids were there,” recalled Marleau.  “Saw him quite a bit during training camp and it’s very cool to see that he’s doing so well for himself. “

The 22-year-old was admittedly surprised to get an extended look at Leafs camp given his contract situation.

“I just work my bag off right? Whatever happens, happens,” he said. “I was fortunate to stick around, but hopefully I can go further next year. I came up a long way so it was just nice to get the opportunity, honestly. It was just nice to get the opportunity to stay up there and learn from the big boys, learn how to play and act. Just the way they treat their bodies. Always eating the right foods.”

Marchment was a free agent invite to the Calgary Flames development camp in July 2015, but nothing materialized. After his final OHL season, he joined the Marlies on an ATO at the end of the 2015-16 season, appearing in three games.

He was one of just two players without an NHL contract who suited up in a pair of games for the Marlies over the weekend – Rich Clune was the other. Keefe even played the six-foot-four, 200-pound Marchment over the likes of 2015 second-round pick Jeremy Bracco at times this season.

“I’m playing with a really good (player in) Ben Smith,” said Marchment.  “He’s a really solid player and he keeps us young guys under control, so I’ve definitely learned a lot from the older guys and I’m just trying to play my game, help the team.” 

Even when Marchment is not finding the score sheet, he’s making an impact. In a recent 6-4 loss to the Charlotte Checkers, Marchment drew three minor penalties and provided the net-front screen on a Dmytro Timashov third period power play goal.

“He has that ability and that’s something we saw in him when he was extremely raw,” said Keefe. “Things happen when he’s on the ice. Offensively, he’s all over the puck. He’s a physical guy that’s not afraid of anything. He’s got a real big body with a good skill set. As his strength and his skating and his balance and all those things continue to come together, we think there’s a nice prospect there. We’re taking the next step in his development and so far so good for him.”

Over his 17 seasons in the NHL, Bryan Marchment was known as a physical presence on the blue line and wasn’t afraid to drop the gloves when an opportunity presented itself. According to hockeyfights.com, Marchment, a first round pick of the Winnipeg Jets in 1987 and later a Maple Leafs defenseman, had 84 career fights.

Now working as a scout for the San Jose Sharks, Bryan Marchment doesn’t see many similarities between his game and that of his son.

“He’s got a lot more skill than I had,” he said. “He doesn’t drop the gloves or whatever, but he’s got compete in his game and he’s a big boy. (A few weeks ago) he had to answer the bell and he did well.”

Due to his role with the Sharks, Bryan doesn’t see many of Mason’s games live, but when he does, his advice is simple.

“Have fun, work hard. If you’re not working hard, then you’re not going to be there,” the elder Marchment explained. “Obviously you have to compete every game and be noticeable shift-in and shift-out. Playing in the same city that the big club is in, you’re being watched every game, so it’s a good thing.”

Scouts have taken notice of Marchment’s development as well projecting him to be a bottom six forward at the next level.

“He’s a big body, he’s a north-south skater (and) he’s physical,” said Dennis MacInnis, the Director of Scouting at ISS Hockey. “He’ll do the dirty work. His stride is good, when he gets going, he’s OK, but he lacks agility.

“He’s going to be an interesting guy to see how he develops over the next 12 months.”

It was likely a long shot to begin with, but since veteran defenceman Roman Polak signed a one-year, $1.1 million contract, Toronto is now at 49 of their 50 available contracts scuttling any chance of Marchment inking an entry-level contract with the club for the time being.

Marchment is an NHL free agent and could sign with any club, but heading out on to a six-game road trip, his focus remains on his development.  

“I’ve come a long way and in the last couple of years so that’s a huge encouragement for myself to keep on pushing,” he said. “Just keep playing the way I’m playing, I’m a growing kid still so I’ve just got to keep pushing.” 

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