"Kevin Marshall is a warrior. Kevin Marshall is a competitor. Kevin Marshall wants to win every game. Kevin Marshall hates to lose. Kevin Marshall comes to play." That’s how former Lewiston MAINEiacs coach Clem Jodoin describes Lewiston’s 2007 eligible blue liner. Indeed, it might be for the best that when Jodoin decided to move elsewhere, he chose the Rimouski Oceanic in the Telus (West) Division, far away from Marshall, Lewiston and the East Division. As Jodoin indicated, almost prophetically, prior to leaving the Lewiston organization, Marshall is the type of player that coaches love to have on their team, but hate to play against.
A native of Boucherville, Quebec, Marshall was drafted by Lewiston in the 1st round of the QMJHL draft, 9th overall in 2005. He immediately stepped into the lineup and while he did play a limited role, he appeared in 60 games, scoring one goal and finishing with 11 points. He also started to make a name for himself as a hard-nosed player, registering 112 minutes in the penalty box.
When the 2006-07 season rolled around, Marshall was challenged to step up his play. As coach Jodoin explains, "For a young 16-year-old last year, he tried a little too much, sometimes I had to tell him to stop." Marshall finished the season with 70 games, scoring 5 goals and 32 points, along with 141 penalty minutes. He often found himself matched up against the opposition’s top talents and was a huge reason why Lewiston was known around the league as a defensively punishing team.
Lewiston’s success continued throughout the playoffs, losing only one game on the way to the President Cup. In 17 post season matches, Marshall had seven points, all assists and another 38 penalty minutes. Once again, he was a counted on to help shut down the opposition and bring some grit to the Lewiston blue line. However, Marshall, like the rest of the MAINEiacs hit a snag when they appeared at the Memorial Cup in Vancouver. Lewiston went 1-3 in the tournament and Marshall finished his year without a point in those four games.
A true warrior on the ice, Marshall is at his best when he is throwing opponents off their game due to his punishing play. As Kim Houston of the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau explains, "When a guy can get a team upset and get them off their game, he’s doing a good job." Houston continues to say, "He plays on the edge and he keeps the other team on the edge as well and I think that’s a great trait when you can do that. Just as long as he knows where the edge is and doesn’t go over it."
Indeed finding that edge and knowing when to pick his spots is sometimes a challenge. Marshall sometimes put his team at a disadvantage by being goaded into taking a penalty or being thrown off his own game by an attacking player. "You don’t have to push him, you have to stop him. He’s got a lot of energy, a lot of character and he comes down to play," said Jodoin. In fact, Marshall is such a competitor that he plays the same style in practice. "Even during practices, he fights among his teammates because he’s so aggressive and sometimes we got to stop him too. When he puts his helmet on, you better be ready. He had a couple of fights amongst his teammates this year, so for him, it’s real. He wants to win," Jodoin explains.
In addition to his gritty play, Marshall is a strong skater, able to keep up with some of the swifter forwards in the QMJHL. He throws his body down to block a shot with the same willingness that he throws his body against the boards to check another player and works hard to keep the front of the net clear of bodies. Seeing second unit powerplay time, Marshall’s puck handling skills are decent, but he excels on the penalty kill, thanks to his work along the boards and in the corners.
While he is solid in his own end, he does need to continue to improve the other aspects of his game. Jodoin specifically points at his shot needing some work, as well as just general improvement of his offensive game, but is quick to note that "his work ethic should bring him out of there." Houston agrees with this assessment, noting that "I think all defensemen now have to have some offensive capability to play at the next level. You have to be able to bring something with it, whether it is puck handling, whether it’s a shot, whether it is being able to get the puck out of your own end with that first pass, whether it is able to skate and get it out, whatever. You have to have some puck skills."
Although he’s one of the top defensemen available out of the QMJHL this year at the NHL Entry Draft, Marshall is a long shot to hear his name called on the evening of June 22nd. However, he can be expected to be drafted in the second or third round on June 23rd and is on track to be a solid addition to whatever team picks him.
Copyright 2007 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.