MacMaster Out/LeBlanc In
The Utica Comets announced a roster move today, letting us know that they have traded forward Tanner MacMaster for defender Stefan LeBlanc.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) February 3, 2019
MacMaster burst onto the scene late last season with the Comets after coming in on a tryout deal that ultimately led to a one-year AHL deal with the club this offseason. In 13 regular season games with the Comets last season, MacMaster put up seven points and showed the ability to be a playmaker from his left wing position. He also went on to lead all Comets rookies with four points in five playoff games. I enjoyed watching MacMaster’s game and wish him all the best with the Marlies.
I am not privy to reasons why trades are made, but this move might at least get MacMaster a few more minutes if he can impress the Marlies coaching staff. The Comets have had a bit of a log jam on the wings as we have seen Michael Carcone moved out in a previous trade and saw Petrus Palmu head back to Finland, along with the MacMaster deal today to help alleviate that issue.
Another reason, as Ben Birnell, (@OD_Birnell) of the Utica Observer-Dispatch, tweeted out, could be related to the Dylan Blujus injury in the Comets game on Friday.
Another layer to this trade for the Comets: Dylan Blujus is out "long term," I'm told.
He blocked a shot on Friday and left the game.
So, it helps give the Comets depth on D
— Ben Birnell (@OD_Birnell) February 3, 2019
So this move clears up more room on the wings to hopefully help Jonah Gadjovich see the ice on a more regular basis, though MacMaster was sitting just as often as Gadjovich, so the outgoing player hasn’t been the biggest roadblock in his way.
So what do the Comets get in Stefan LeBlanc?
I reached out to Jake Stoller, (@JLStoller) who covers the Marlies for TheLeafsNation.Com for a little bit of info on LeBlanc. I asked if he was an AHL or ECHL type of player and if he had seen any special teams work with the Marlies. He had this to say.
He does a lot of things well, but nothing spectacularly. He moves the puck really well. He’s steady. He can get involved on the rush, if his team is active with their D. He is an AHL player who hasn’t seen any power play time with the Marlies. He MAY have seen some PK time, but I really don’t think so.
When I headed over to Elite Prospects for a little more info on LeBlanc, I learned that he is a six-foot, 185lbs, left-shot defenceman. The product of Oakville Ontario is 22-years-old an is currently on a one-year AHL contract.
LeBlanc spent four seasons in the OHL, split between the Sudbury Wolves, where he put up 16 points in 38 games before being traded mid-season to the Mississauga Steelheads. There, he grabbed an additional 12 points in 26 more games. He went on to become an alternate captain with the club and spent the next three season there, picking up another 92 points over 194 games.
The defender spent last season on a one-year AHL deal with the Laval Rocket, where he picked up 10 points in 56 games as a rookie. This season, he has split his time between the Newfoundland Growlers of the ECHL, picking up 15 points in 26 games, while also playing in 17 games for the Marlies where he grabbed an additional seven points, all assists.
The Comets expect to get Ashton Sautner back into the lineup soon, which would give the club him, Guillaume Brisebois, Evan McEneny, Cliff Watson and now LeBlanc as healthy lefties. The team also has Jagger Dirk and Brandon Anselmini plying their trade as lefties on AHL deals in Kalamazoo of the ECHL. On the right side, the team has the recently returned Jalen Chatfield, veterans Jamie Sifers and Luke Schenn, along with Colton Saucerman who are healthy.
The Comets also have lefty Olli Juolevi, (out for the regular season) and righties Jesse Graham, (week-to-week, upper body injury) and Dylan Blujus, (long term, upper body injury) who are in the infirmary. Both of Watson and Saucerman are with the club on PTOs, (professional tryout offers) so it will be interesting to see if this move affects either player’s tenure with the team.
The Comets are back in action this coming Friday when the Lehigh Valley Phantoms come to town for a 7:00 pm Eastern start. As always, stay tuned for the CanucksArmy Post-Game report following the game.