There’s a story here, maybe we’ll learn it someday.
— Toronto Marlies (@TorontoMarlies) December 14, 2021
The why of this is obvious: The Leafs have lost two AHL-ish forwards on waivers, traded another, and poached Brett Seney for their roadtrip west. On the plus side, Antti Suomela is finally able to play, and there’s been some call-ups from the Growlers who have helped, but the roster is a bit too thin for three-in-threes like last weekend.
Why Joe Blandisi was available is the mystery. He was drafted 162nd overall in 2012 by the Avs, so it’s not a shock he’s spent more time in the AHL than the NHL, but at 27 he does have 101 NHL games played. His point rate is not high at .31, but his .74 in the AHL keeps making him seem like he might be able to contribute in a depth role. Maybe he can.
He’s a little famous for piling up 112 points in 68 games on the Barrie Colts in 2014-2015 as an overager. You want to know something funny? He played with “overnight sensation” Andrew Mangiapane that year. Barrie was Blandisi’s third OHL team, and he graduated to the NHL the next season.
The Avs never signed him, so the Devils added him as a free agent. He stayed in the Devils org for two seasons, splitting time equally in the AHL and NHL at a time when their NHL roster was easy to crack. He was traded to Anaheim in the Adam Henrique deal. Eventually they moved him on to Pittsburgh as the contract that went back in a trade for Derek Grant. Eventually Pittsburgh moved him on to Montréal in a four-player AHL-level deal.
He only played four games in Laval on an expiring contract, notching four points, and the Canadiens re-signed him to a one-year deal in September, 2020, to play in the AHL. He kept the points pace up, with 21 points in 28 games played last year.
The Habs site did a glowing article about his NHL ambitions:
And then nothing. No contract of any kind anywhere this season. Until now. Three OHL teams, three NHL teams, four AHL teams, and now a PTO.
There’s a story here, somewhere, maybe more than one. But Blandisi, from Markham, is home now, with a chance on the team that will give players a chance, that’s been made clear. Hope it works out for him. The Marlies could really use a guy who likes to score.