On the same day as Ryane Clowe was officially introduced as the ECHL’s Newfoundland Growlers new head coach, another Newfoundlander was added to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ minor-league system.
St. John’s native Zach O’Brien was signed to an American Hockey League contract by the defending Calder Cup champion Toronto Marlies on Tuesday.
The deal makes the 26-year forward eligible to be assigned to the Leafs-affiliated Growlers, although it should be noted O’Brien has played the majority of his minor-league career in the AHL, including last season, when he appeared in 43 games for the Bakersfield Condors.
In all, O’Brien has suited up in 218 AHL contests with the St. John’s IceCaps (a single game), Manchester Monarchs, Chicago Wolves and Condors, recording 39 goals and 65 assists. In 2014-15, he captured the Calder Cup with Manchester
He has also appeared in 49 ECHL contests with the Ontario Reign and Wichita Thunder.
In 2017-18, he appeared in a total of 55 games with Bakersfield and, putting up 35 points (11 goals, 24 assists) through 55 games.
O’Brien played 192 games in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies and the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, recording 260 points (127 goals, 133 assists), topping the QMJHL with 50 goals for Acadie-Bathurst in 2011-12.
He was not drafted by any National Hockey League team.
O’Brien was one of seven players — five forwards and two defencemen — signed to AHL deals by Toronto on Tuesday, bringing the total number of skaters signed to minor-league deals by the Maple Leafs organization over the last couple of weeks to 14.