Jonathan Marchessault had his best professional season to date in 2014-2015, something that certainly got him noticed by bloggers and big wigs alike. The winger joins likes of Syracuse Crunch forwards Joel Vermin (ranked at 24 this summer) and Yanni Gourde (ranked at 22 this summer) as players who arrived on the scene too late in the 2013-14 season to be ranked in last summer's Top 25 Under 25 but who have made quite the splash this year. Unranked last year, Marchessault's stock shot up when he turned out a practically point-per-game performance in the AHL this past season while also scoring his first NHL goal during his cup of coffee with the Tampa Bay Lightning late in the NHL's regular season.
Here's how our panel ranked Jonathan Marchessault:
|Kyle Alexander||John Fontana||Mike Gallimore||GeoFitz4||Brett Frieman|
Previous ranks: N/A
Marchessault joined the Syracuse Crunch in a deadline day trade on March 5th, 2014. In the 21 games he played with the Crunch to end that season, Marchessault scored 15 points and helped a faltering Crunch to regain some pride. He gave his new fan base something to cheer about, and played a large part in what is still one of the most memorable games in Crunch history: the Miracle at the War Memorial. During that game on April 5th, 2014, Marchessault scored two shorthanded goals in a row with Crunch goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis pulled for the extra attacker. Those goals were crucial to the match's outcome and helped to lift the then-floundering Crunch to a 6-5 overtime victory against the Utica Comets.
Marchessault's heroics this season came not in one game, but in all 68 games he played for the Crunch. Marchessault notched a total of 67 points (24 goals, 43 assists), and was the most consistent player in a Syracuse uniform all season. He led the Crunch in points for the season and was second only to Gourde in goals scored. As Bolt Prospects explains, what was more exciting about his scoring pace was that it occurred without an important key ingredient - a playmaking center:
Producing nearly a point-a-game in the AHL, often without the aid of a playmaking centerman, Jonathan Marchessault was easily Syracuse's most consistent and most dynamic offensive producer this past season. In fact, the diminutive winger was impressive enough to earn three playoff games with the big club at the end of the year. Now 24 years old, this is Marchessault's last go around in our rankings. With the Lightning depth at forward, he'll have a tough time making the club out of camp, but if he survives waivers he should be one of the first calls up from the Crunch should it become necessary.
When he was here, center Vladislav Namestnikov made up the Crunch's first line with Marchessault and Gourde. However, Namestnikov was up with the Lightning for the majority of the season and only saw 34 games with Syracuse. As discussed previously on our countdown, center Tanner Richard just couldn't seem to fill Namestnikov's shoes, and never really claimed that number one center position like many hoped he would. Marchessault was able to keep up his scoring pace regardless of who he was working with, something which was quite impressive.
Marchessault becomes waiver-eligible this fall, which is something that could shape his career more than anything else. Marchessault has played a total of 4 NHL games - two with the Columbus Blue Jackets and two with the Lightning - and has scored one goal. He could make a pretty terrific run during training camp, but if not and if the Lightning are afraid that he won't clear, Marchessault could end up seeing some pressbox time with Tampa while waiting for the forward logjam to open up a bit. But, if he clears, Marchessault will be guaranteed a spot back on the Crunch's first line.