Maple Leafs Top 20 Prospects, #5-8: Fall 2008

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    #5 – C Jiri Tlusty, 20, Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL)

    Drafted: 1st round, 13th overall in 2006

    Strengths: Strong skater with good acceleration. Quick hands, a great shot and excellent offensive instincts. Complete player who can bang a bit, and provides a developing two-way game. Possesses some gamebreaking ability.

    Weaknesses: Utilizing the most of his array of skills on a consistent basis. Bringing it every night to avoid long scoring droughts, and make the most of his increased ice time this season.

    In a Perfect World, He Becomes: An offensively dangerous top-six forward that contributes at both ends of the ice, and is capable of 30+ goals. Zach Parise.

    #6 – C Mikhail Grabovski, 24, Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL)

    Drafted: 5th round, 150th overall in 2004 by Montreal. Acquired via trade from Montreal in 2008.

    Strengths: Possesses a wealth of offensive talent, great hands, quick release and plenty of offensive awareness. Has the dynamic speed and stickhandling ability to lead an end-to-end rush.

    Weaknesses: Lack of size and strength. Below average defensive awareness and faceoff ability for the centre position. Can be selfish at times with the puck. Must develop consistency.

    In a Perfect World, He Becomes: A good #2 centre, capable of 60+ points, when properly motivated and makes the effort to involve himself in all aspects of the game. Mike Ribeiro-lite.

    #7 – Dmitri Vorobiev – 22, Lada (KHL)

    Drafted: 5th round, 157th overall in 2004

    Strengths: Great size (6’2 212 lbs, maybe more) and strength. Good skater, extremely physical, loves to dish out big hits. Reliable in his own end. Possesses intriguing offensive upside, particularly with a booming point shot.

    Weaknesses: Doesn’t usually stand out. Possesses average hockey sense. May get into trouble and out of position when attempting to land a big hit.

    In a Perfect World, He Becomes: A 2nd pairing shutdown defenseman, and a bit of a loose cannon in terms of physicality with some upside as a point shot on a #2 PP unit. Danny Markov.

    #8 – C Mikhail Stefanovich, 18, Quebec Ramparts (QMJHL)

    Drafted: 4th round, 98th overall in 2008

    Strengths: Great blend of size (6’2 200 lbs) and skill. Dynamic offensive player with fantastic scoring instincts and sharpshooting ability. Was considered a top 15 talent in the ’08 draft.

    Weaknesses: Does not bring it every night. Is very inconsistent, and at times seems disinterested in the defensive side of the game. Big frame, but does not like to initiate contact. Average skating ability.

    In a Perfect World, He Becomes: A prolific offensive threat, and legimitate 30 goal NHL sniper, but only if someone manages to light a fire in him. Bigger but slower Nikolai Zherdev.

    So you’ve seen my #1-8 so far. What do you think? What would your rankings look like?

    Always a pleasure,

    Alex Tran

    [email protected]