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Orillia's Chas Sharpe to make pro debut with Maple Leafs affiliate

Defenceman hoping to hit the ice this weekend with Marlies, says signing with team 'wasn't really a hard choice'
Former Mississauga Steelheads captain Chas Sharpe has signed a two-year American Hockey League contract with the Toronto Marlies.

Orillia's Chas Sharpe is set to begin his professional hockey career this weekend after signing a two-year contract with the Toronto Marlies, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

After scoring 19 goals and adding 34 assists from the blue line this year with the Mississauga Steelheads of the Ontario Hockey League, Sharpe was in recent contract talks with eight National Hockey League franchises.

"I found out throughout the year that this would be an opportunity for me with the way I was playing," he said. "I knew I'd have to make a decision as soon as our season ended."

The Maple Leafs organization had its sights set on the 20-year-old throughout the season, scouting him frequently.

"In the past years, with the way I've developed and with the way my game has come together, I think I play a 200-foot game," Sharpe said. "They see a future with me in it."

From netting four points in his rookie year with the Steelheads to notching 53 points this season, the right-handed-shot defenceman improved "a ton" during his junior career.

"I think in every aspect of my game, I've gotten better. I've gotten bigger, faster and stronger. I've just improved everywhere," he said.

After recording 28 points in 2021-22, the former Patrick Fogarty Catholic Secondary School student went undrafted by NHL teams.

"I think it was motivation, for sure," he said. "I realized there are many paths to the NHL and I knew I just had to keep going."

During the 2023-24 season, and his last in the OHL, Sharpe says he played with "something to prove."

"I knew I had to leave it all out on the table there," he said. "I had great opportunities with my coaches in Mississauga. I had great teammates, and everybody in the organization helped me."

Sharpe was easily convinced to sign with Toronto after learning about the team's plan for his development and seeing the training facilities.

"I think it also helps that it's the home team for me," he said. "It wasn't really a hard choice."

The former Orillia Terrier and North Central Predator grew up cheering for the Leafs.

"I think everybody from our area cheers for the Leafs growing up," he said. "It's pretty cool."

The six-foot-three athlete is now with the Marlies for their final two games of the regular season. He is hoping to crack the lineup this weekend when the Marlies host the Cleveland Monsters on Saturday and Sunday.

"If that chance does come my way, I'll be ready," he said. "I think I can show that I can play at this level and can help the team win."

Sharpe, a Severn Shores Public School graduate, says playing in the AHL will be a major "step up" from the competition in the OHL.

"Just like going from minor hockey to the OHL, it's just another step in the journey," he said. "I think it will take me a little bit to get used to, but overall, I think I'll be fine."

His goal is to follow his path from his OHL career, where he improved each year, to eventually graduating to the next level.

"It's my dream to play in the NHL," he said. "I won't stop until that dream comes true."

Sharpe hopes his story will inspire other local youth to follow their dreams.

"Just never give up," he said. "If you are motivated and take all the right steps, you'll get here."

This summer, Sharpe will skate in Toronto with his new coaches and teammates at the Maple Leafs' and Marlies' shared practice facility at Ford Performance Centre. He expects to be with the Marlies full-time next season.

"It's pretty exciting," he said. "My family and my best friends are super pumped and proud of me. I wouldn't be here without them."

He thanks the Orillia hockey community for supporting him along his journey.

"It's a tight-knit community there, especially with hockey," he said. "It's pretty special."


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Tyler Evans

About the Author: Tyler Evans

Tyler Evans got his start in the news business when he was just 15-years-old and now serves as a video producer and reporter with OrilliaMatters
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