Looking Forward: Carter Ashton

Tim Lucarelli



When Brian Burke makes deadline trades, they are often smaller fish. For example, in 2007, while teams were targeting names like Peter Forsberg, Keith Tkachuk, Gary Roberts, and Todd Bertuzzi, Burke made one move – he sent goalie prospect Michael Wall to the Colorado Avalanche for Brad May. That year, Burke's Anaheim Ducks would win the Stanley Cup.


The thing to take away from this example is that Burke is willing to make a move, but he wants to make the right move. This year, aside from acquiring Mark Fraser for Dale Mitchell, Burke acquired one player of note in Carter Ashton, giving up Keith Aulie in the process.


For those who don't remember, Ashton was drafted 29th overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft by Tampa. Ashton, who is now 6'3" and 215 lbs, was just coming off a 30-goal and 50-point campaign with Lethbridge. In the 70 games he played that season he also accumulated 93 penalty minutes, most among forwards on his team. Over the course of the next two seasons, Ashton would play for three different WHL teams, never playing more than 37 games for the same squad in a single year. He would also finish both years in the AHL, getting an important glance at the professional tempo.


As his 2010-11 WHL season was coming to a close, Ashton expressed his desire to play for the Lightning, admitting that he would be fine playing in a lesser role rather than a scoring role, if it meant he would be part of the Lightning. Not too bad of an attitude for a kid who was now scoring above a point-per-game clip and added over 100 penalty minutes in just 62 games.


Finally came the 2011-12 season and the training camp Ashton had been waiting for. He was a bubble player who was eventually sent to Norfolk, where he dominated the beginning of the season. In his first AHL game of the season, Ashton notched two goals including the OT winner in a 6-5 win over Charlotte. At the close of the month of October, Ashton had 13 points in 10 games and was named the AHL Rookie of the Month. He would continue the tear through November and December,  but eventually hit a wall. Tampa was losing a lot of hockey games (especially the seven game skid to start January) and Ashton still wasn't getting a cup of coffee.


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