Alexey Marchenko entered the season as a 23 year old right shooting defensman playing in an RFA contract year and looking at the AHL. He quickly earned an NHL call-up when Kyle Quincey was injured in late October and almost cemented a permanent spot in the NHL lineup.
A point brought up less than I expected this year was that Marchenko played well enough to stop the Wings from doing much shuffling with the other near-ripe prospects in XO, Sproul, Russo and Jensen. To me, that speaks volumes.
Marchenko saw time next to numerous defensive partners, which instead of hurting his game, showcased his ability to be the steady safety-net we all hoped he would be. Marchenko gelled particularly well with Brendan Smith, his quick first pass and efficient play behind his own net becoming a strong foil to Smith's up-ice style.
Despite his solid play, Marchy's playing time fell at the end of the season, seeing action in 66 regular season games and only 3 more in the playoffs. Additionally, he only averaged a little over 14 minutes TOI a game. (If you're really looking for a reason to pull your hair out, Ericsson averaged 18:32 ATOI)
Unfortunately, like Smith, Marchenko occasionally fell victim to the same type of defensive player favoritism we have all come to loathe over the last number of years. While Marchenko primarily saw time and minutes relative to a 3rd pairing defenseman, he easily outperformed those duties, posting an acceptable 51.12CF%.
For giggles, here's his warrior chart from ownthepuck.com's @MimicoHero:
Moving forward, Marchenko is an interesting case. He's due a new contract this year as an expiring RFA, but it comes during a season when a guy like Petr Mrazek is due a hefty raise. Is Marchenko going to see a short-term "show me" deal, or will the Wings decide they like what they see and try to extend him for a longer period of time to save some money and gain cost certainty? We can only wait and see.
Chime in, what did you think about our Russian Metal Head's season?