Carter Ashton, a 2009 first-round pick, is heading to the KHL after a trying NHL campaign that saw him suspended for violating the performance enhancing substance program and later traded out of Toronto for a seventh-round pick. Ashton, 24, registered three assists in 54 career NHL games.
When he looks back on his career, Carter Ashton will probably consider the 2014-15 campaign one of the most difficult of his career, but he’s ready to start a new chapter in the KHL.
The KHL’s Torpedo Nizhy Novgorod announced Tuesday they have signed the 24-year-old winger to a contract for the upcoming campaign. This past season, Ashton got only a brief taste of the NHL, suiting up for seven games and failing to register a point. Over his NHL career, he has played in 54 contests, netting three assists and 32 penalty minutes.
A first-round selection, 29th overall, of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2009, Ashton’s game never quite found its way in the NHL. During his first season in the professional ranks, which came in 2011-12, Ashton was shipped off to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for defenseman Keith Aulie. In Toronto, Ashton would get his first taste of NHL action and he played nearly half a season – 32 games – with the big club in 2013-14.
What grabbed Ashton headlines, however, wasn’t his play, but a 20-game suspension for violating the terms of the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program. Ashton tested positive for Clenbuterol, a banned substance, which he said was the result of using an inhaler he was given by a player he had trained with.
In a statement at the time, Ashton said he had, “suffered an asthmatic spasm in late August while in a training session getting prepared for the 2014-15 NHL season. One of the other athletes I was training with gave me an inhaler in order to help open my airway, which provided me with immediate relief from my asthma attack. I kept this inhaler and used it a second time early in the training camp upon experiencing another asthma episode…I now recognize that I ingested Clenbuterol, a prohibited substance, through the inhaler. However, at no time was I seeking to gain an athletic advantage or to knowingly violate the terms of the (performance enhancing substance program.)”
Ashton did not fight the suspension and served the full 20 games, spanning from Nov. 6 to Dec. 19. Shortly after finishing his suspension, Ashton was called up by the Maple Leafs, but was then placed on waivers and again demoted to the AHL. Three months after being suspended, Toronto shipped Ashton back to Tampa Bay in a package with David Broll for a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2016 draft.
He played the remainder of the 2014-15 campaign with the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch. In his AHL career, Ashton scored 56 goals and 103 points in 192 games.
Ashton was a restricted free agent following the completion of a one-year deal he had signed in 2013-14.