April 19 2013 06:54AM
He arrived as a basically unknown return for another captain heading out of town. A few short years later, Todd Marchant was scoring one of the most famous goals in team history.
Marchant arrived in Edmonton on a day when the New York Rangers emptied their prospect bank in search of a Stanley that would arrive later that spring with an Oildrop asterisk. Craig MacTavish was sent away for a "1994 US Olympian" named Marchant and that was about all we got from the media.
It was shortly thereafter we found out something very important about Marchant: he was a rocket on skates.
Something we didn't know until much later (as in recently) involves a stroke of extremely good luck in the 1994 the deal. In the book BEHIND THE MOVES former NYR GM Neil Smith recounts an incredible story:
- Smith: All year, I was telling Sather, ‘I want [Craig] MacTavish at the deadline because you are going to miss the playoffs and I need a fourth-line, penalty-kill, faceoff guy.’ So the deadline comes. And what he really wanted from me was a big, tall defenceman in the minors who I wouldn’t trade to him because I thought he was a great prospect. I said to him, ‘I’ll trade you Todd Marchant.’ So we made the trade. I swear on this: the next day, Sather called me and he said, ‘You f---ed me on this trade. Marchant is f----ing 5’8”.’ I said, ‘I know he is.’… Sather said, ‘F---! It says in the book that he is 6’1”.’ I said, ‘You’re looking at the wrong Marchant. That’s his brother,’ because Todd’s brother was in the book, too. [Glen] thought he was trading for the other Marchant, I swear to God.”
Marchant arrived as an Oiler in his first (half) season, scoring 13 goals in 45 games after firing 22 past AHL goalies in 35 games in 94-95 (before the callup). Funny thing--as impressive as the scoring spree looked, Marchant actually had a bundle more chances. His penchant for breakaways was astounding but closing the deal was something else again (as we would discover).
Marchant's blazing speed made him a threat on offense and defense, and as time rolled along Marchant (who played as a winger to begin his career) moved into a 2-way role as a speedy center with defensive ability. Marchant became a reliable #3 center who actually played the 2nd most minutes (behind Doug Weight) because of his strong play at evens and on the PK.
By the turn of the century, Marchant was considered a significant part of the team's center.
That goal gives you an idea about Marchant's speed. For his era, Marchant was exceptionally quick and fast, catching opposition defenders flat-footed and he could scoot by in a heartbeat. He was also a tenacious checker and penalty killer and despite a lack of size was a very effective 2-way player for his entire Oiler career.
"Certainly my first game against Chicago with the Rangers, scoring a Game 7 overtime-winner against Dallas when I was with Edmonton, winning the Stanley Cup in 2007 with Anaheim, playing in 1,000 NHL games - those are the kind of things that stand out for me as highlights of my career."
- Stanley Cup (2007, Anaheim)
- ECAC 2nd All-Star (1993)
- Team USA Member at the World Juniors (1993)
- Represented USA at Lillehammer Olympics (1994)
The talented pivot played one game for the Rangers after the Olympics and was dealt to the Edmonton Oilers for Craig MacTavish just prior to the March deadline. Marchant spent the lockout portion of the 1994-95 season with the AHL's Cape Breton Oilers before scoring 27 points in 45 games as an NHL rookie. Over the next few seasons, he became a fixture in the Edmonton line up with his speed symbolizing the crux of the team's improvement.
In 1996-97, Marchant helped the Oilers qualify for the post season for the first time since 1992. He also provided the overtime winner in the seventh game of the club's first-round upset victory over the Dallas Stars. Over the years Marchant proved to be one of the more durable player for the Oilers and during the 2002-03 season he hit the 20-goal plateau for the first time while establishing career highs also in assists with 40 and points with 60.
In the 1960s, Montreal Canadiens had an undersized but skilled C named Ralph Backstrom. Most believed he could have score more but his role was as a checker and penalty killer behind twin legends Jean Beliveau and Henri Richard. That was the role played by Todd Marchant--behind the big stars like Doug Weight, but extremely effective in a vital team role. The one time he played 1line minutes (02-03) in Edmonton, Marchant finished among the league's top 50 scorers.
Todd Marchant was a valuable player, a central figure on the teams he played for in his prime. He will always be remembered fondly by Oilers Nation for that goal against Dallas.