The Toronto Maple Leafs’ AHL affiliate is continuing to beef up their roster, even in the dog days of the hockey offseason.

Early Thursday morning, the Toronto Marlies announced the signing of forward Nicholas Baptiste to a one-year AHL contract.

When the Leafs acquired the 24-year-old from the Nashville Predators just before the 2019 trade deadline struck, there was some optimism that Baptiste could re-discover his scoring touch at the AHL level. The Ottawa native was just two years removed from a 2016-2017 campaign that saw him pot 25 goals with the Rochester Americans and suit up for 14 NHL games with the Buffalo Sabres.

Upon joining the Marlies, Baptiste was given ample opportunity alongside key offensive contributors but his offensive game never really resurfaced. Baptiste would go on to record seven points (six of which were primary) in 18 regular season games which were right about par with his offensive output in Milwaukee that same year (22 points in 55 games).

While Baptiste’s name was not frequently found on the scoresheet, he was able to carve out a niche as a solid bottom-six forward. Baptiste is not the fastest of skaters and his hands aren’t all that pretty, but he’s like an energy bunny. He hustles, he’s hard on pucks and he isn’t afraid to go into the dirty areas of the ice.

Baptiste’s forechecking ability and the simplicity in his game helped him carve out a role on the Marlies’ fourth line–alongside Josh Jooris and Colin Greening–throughout the course of the Marlies’ playoff run last spring.

Baptiste may have written himself off as an NHL asset after last season, but his showing throughout his Marlies tenure proved that he still had some AHL utility. And the Marlies are always looking for capable AHL players to surround their prospects with, be it for the purposes of heightening the internal competition for their young-guns.

The signing of Nic Baptiste provides the Marlies with a solid bottom-six addition who could provide some stability to the bottom of Marlies’ forward core as the teams’ new-wave of prospects adjust to the AHL level.