Dave Morrison Interview: Maple Leafs Director of Amateur Scouting

589

I had the pleasure of chatting with Dave Morrison yesterday on behalf of MLHS.  The Director of Amateur Scouting for the Leafs, Morrison is an intelligent hockey mind that provides direct insight and analysis on the prospects and general state of affairs in the Toronto Maple Leafs organization.  We covered topics including recent draft picks, organizational depth, up and coming prospects and Nazem Kadri.  

Nikhil Daljeet: Let’s start with your thoughts on the progression of the farm system as a whole.

Dave  Morrison: Well obviously I am happy with the way things are going.  I think as an organization we’ve put a lot of time and effort into developing systems on our farm teams and with our development coaches to enable us to have the best environment for our players to progress and become NHL players.  I think if you look at the last while, you can start to see the results as a lot of our players are coming along quite nicely.  It’s a credit to them too, but obviously they have to keep putting that effort in.  If you were at the development camps you would have seen a lot of progression

ND: Are there needs at a particular position or for a particular skillset, a certain type of player?

DM: Well, having looked at it, I am happy with the overall group and the different kinds of players we have.  We have a lot of skill in different positions, a lot of two-way type players, a lot of grit in different areas.  We have some size, we also have some speed.  There are a lot of different things we have there.  You always want to add to your prospect pool and improve them if you can.  At this point, it is tough to say where we may need something.  We needed a little more depth down the middle.  I think that picking Gauthier and then Verhaeghe and looking at the camp this summer, I thought we solved that at this point.  It’s tough to say until you see them become pros exactly where you’re at.  We draft the best available player.  It’s got to work out for us that the position we want is there and is the best available player.  This year was one of those years where the guys popped up for us at the right time.

ND: Last year, you liked Morgan Rielly enough to take him fifth overall despite coming off a pretty tough injury. He certainly seems to have bounced back with an excellent season for Moose Jaw. What are the next steps for him?

DM: He also had that opportunity to play 20 games at the AHL level which included a number of playoff games.  I think for Morgan, it’s just progressing in all areas.  Morgan’s a pretty talented young player.  At his age, it’s really hard to say how quickly he will be able to make that adjustment to the pro game. Obviously by how he played at the American League level last year he is perfectly capable of playing at this point. But is it the best thing for him long term to be rushed into the pro game?  Because next year he either has to play in the NHL or major junior. Only Morgan will be able to tell us that and telling us will be how he plays and how he performs at training camp.  That will be the mark by which we judge him.  If he’s ready, he’s ready.  If he isn’t, he isn’t.  It’s no race here with a young player.  I think we’ve seen with Nazem that taking your time with a player doesn’t hurt them and can only make them better.

ND: Yeah definitely.  I was glad when they didn’t rush Nazem a couple years ago.  I wouldn’t mind at all if Reilly took his time and followed his natural progression.

DM: Yeah, I think we’ve seen that work for us, and it works for a lot of organizations. I think in our market too, it’s especially important that a player has to work and earn his way there.  There are a lot of different components that come into play when you’re looking at a player becoming an NHL player.  It’s not just that they’re an NHL player – it’s that they can play in the NHL and help us win.  Playing in the NHL is one thing, but playing and helping your team win is a whole different thing.  That’s where we want to get our players.

ND: Even outside of Rielly, the organization is quite deep along the blueline in terms of prospects.  For example we’ve got Percy, Blacker and Matt Finn coming up the ranks. Who stood out to you this season? Who might be the closest to making that jump?

DM: I think closest is a matter of experience.  To me, the one kid that comes to mind is Petter Granberg who played in the SEL, won the championship and then capped it off playing in the World Championships and winning.  A player like him has had that full year of pro experience and played against some of the better NHL players in the World Championships. That just gives him a bit more confidence.  He’s one guy that would come to mind.

We’ve got a number of kids.  Stuart Percy’s progression could go quickly depending on how much strength he gets this summer and if he’s able to adapt to the pro game quickly. It could happen fairly quickly for him.  Also a guy like Andrew MacWilliam, entering his first year of pro, is a big physical defenseman.  He’s played four full years of NCAA hockey so he’s fairly mature physically and mentally.  You never know with a guy like him.

Obviously we’ve very optimistic about our depth on the blueline. We have a number of kids – Matt Finn who you mentioned – still back in junior.  We have two Swedes [Tom Nilsson and Viktor Loov] going back to Sweden that we’re quite happy with.  So we’re pretty happy with our depth on the blueline.  But still, every year you try to make them better.

ND: The trade for Bernier gives the Leafs two young NHL goaltenders with starter upside.  But at the lower levels, Jussi Rynnas and Mark Owuya have left the organization.  The organization recently signed Christopher Gibson and drafted Antoine Bibeau to add to the organizational goalie depth.  After Reimer and Bernier, who is the most promising goalie currently in the system?  The one that is closest to making an impact at the NHL level?

DM: Well we have MacIntyre who is an older AHL player that has played some games here and there and is an established depth goaltender.  In terms of Garret Sparks or Christopher Gibson, they’re both talented young goalies that both need some pro experience.  It’s hard to say at this point which one of them will vault themselves forward quicker.  Garret got in some games with the Marlies last year and acquitted himself well.  But that’s not a season.  They’re both talented and both a bit different in how they play the game.  They both have good size and athleticism and they’re both good character kids.  We think the competition is healthy and we will see which one of them vaults themselves into position quicker than the other but at the end of the day you have to think (as we were talking about with the defensemen and just our overall group of players) – it’s good to have depth.  It’s good to have talented depth that’s going to push each other to become better.

ND: On that note, last summer you told us that Nazem Kadri was on the verge of breaking out as an NHL player and he certainly did. What did you see in his character or his game that really told you he was ready?

DM: I’m from London, so I know a lot of people in this area and I know his family.  I know Naz and I know his character, so I know what drives him to become a player.  I know that he’ll meet a challenge head on.  He’s not the type of young man to turn away from challenges.  He accepts them and he wants to excel and he wants to win.  It was just that close for him last year when we talked about it. I was happy with the way he came back and proved himself and he has got to continue to prove himself.  He’s still a young player and a player that’s important to our future.  From what I understand he’s been working pretty hard this summer so we are looking forward to getting him back in the fold here.  Obviously there are some things to work out in between.  He was just at that point and I’m happy that it’s starting to happen for him.

ND: Is there any player this year that could make that same step? One that you think is close?

DM: It’s interesting because we have a number of kids that I think could actually.   I’m excited about the potential of a lot of our players.  It’s going to be hard to say until we get to training camp. There are a number of guys that will be ready for this year’s camp and it has to do with the depth and competition within the organization.  I just see that there’s a group of kids down at the MCC working out a lot. There’s a healthy competition with these kids.

A lot of the young Marlie players are going to be pushing for jobs and kids graduating from junior will put a push on, but obviously may need more time at the pro level before they can do that.  But you never know.  I’m excited about a lot of guys: I think a kid like Josh Leivo could turn some heads. Tyler Biggs could. David Broll.   Some of the Marlies: Greg McKegg, Jerry D’Amigo, Carter Ashton.  And that’s why I say it’s kind of a group that I’m excited to see who has put in the time and really matured mentally and physically and developed their games for training camp.  I’m excited to see which kids will step forward. I mentioned only a few names; I could mention another five to ten names I’m excited to see at camp.  I think we have a number of kids that could have breakout years.

ND: Definitely.  At the development camp – we had some guys there – they were talking about how good Leivo and some of the others looked.  We have a lot of size, and it’s interesting because a lot of our prospects are on a similar level in the sense that any one of them could break out, but its close.

DM: Yeah, I think you’re right and I’m excited. Sometimes size takes a little longer to develop.  For example Fred Gauthier, understand that he’s a big man but still a very young boy. Same with Carter Verhaeghe.  It takes time.  These kids now, that are turning pro, there’s an adjustment period.  Most of the time there’s an adjustment period and you just have to be patient with them. And we’re going to be.  We’re going to be patient with them.  It’s worked for us and it will continue to work for us.

ND: Speaking of Gauthier – how high was he on your draft board? What do you like about his game and where do you see him fitting in 5 years down the road?

DM: With Frederik Gauthier, we feel pretty comfortable with his potential as a third-line center.  Could he better than that? Yeah, I think he could.  But I don’t think at this point you could project him better than that. I think he’s going to be a really strong two-way player that is going to help your team win.  I think he’s going to be one of these guys that down the stretch, playoff time, big situations, when you really need two-way strength – he’s going to be a player that really helps us down the road in that regard.

I think if you watch the playoffs and toward the end of the season, there is a type of player that starts to look a little more important and a little more valuable.  I feel like Frederik will be one of those guys.  I don’t think he’s going to be a flashy guy.  He’s got a different type of skill set than a guy like Nazem Kadri.  I think, in saying that, I still feel like Frederik has some offensive upside.  But I wouldn’t ever say he’s going to be a guy like Nazem Kadri – he’s not.  Frederick is going to be that strong two-way guy that will help you win hockey games.

ND: Yeah, thinking about the playoff run this year for example: I could see some comparisons to Michal Handzus, although he may be a bit long in the tooth at this point.  That large size at center and two-way presence was a big force in the playoffs.

DM: Exactly, I think you’re not far off.  I think that’s probably what you’re going to be looking at.  That type of guy.  Or a Martin Hanzal, another big guy down the middle.  Maybe a Jordan Staal but perhaps not quite as developed offensively as Jordan.  It’s hard to say at this point as Frederik has come such a long way.  You have to remember that just a year ago he was playing basically midget AAA, and all of a sudden within a year he is almost a PPG in the QMJHL and helping Canada win a gold at the U18 tournament.  It’s such a huge accelerated year for him that you just have to be patient with him.  It may take him 3 or 4 years to get there but we’re going to be happy with that he brings us.

ND: Last year at this time, you had just wrapped up a draft where you held the fifth overall selection. After a strong season, you now found yourself selecting toward the end of the first round. Does the position of a draft pick, especially in that first round, affect your drafting game plan? It’s more difficult to find a star at that point – so do you target a player with a defined skillset that can fill a role? Or do you swing for the fences a little bit on a raw project player with high upside?

DM: It’s interesting: I would say that we consider all of the above.  You go through so many different scenarios and we evaluate and rank so many different players.  Those players in that range we’re going to draft – every one of them has a different skillset.  We rank them in terms of which one of them we feel will have the biggest impact.  That doesn’t necessarily mean offense.  You need to have players that can stop those other players too, win big faceoffs and play in critical situations and have that size and strength down the stretch and in the playoffs where it becomes important.  And Frederik, we were impressed with the kind of year he had for a big man.  He has good hockey sense and a developing skillset.  So we’ll see where he goes, but we feel he has the right character to put in the time and effort and work to become the best he can be.  How good that will be remains to be seen, but we’re confident he’ll help us down the road at some point.

ND: Let’s finish off with a few reader questions:

DM: Sure, as long as they’re not kicking me in the ass for someone I picked.

ND: What is the most interesting question you’ve asked a player during the pre-draft interviews?

DM: The funny thing about that question is, I probably can’t divulge it publicly.  Because sometimes they can get a little personal.  Players run into problems during the season, sometimes they’re issues off the ice.  They can be touchy subjects.  We’ll give a player the chance to explain – sometimes it’s not easy to ask those questions but we do.  We want to be honest with the player and we want them to be honest with us.  And they are, they always are.  Sometimes that’s the only way you get to know them.

Therefore, that’s kind of a tough question to answer for that reason.   In the past, we’ve asked some of those questions where we show pictures, ask who would you like to go to lunch with and questions about a certain type of pill. We’ve done different things over the years but we’ve got it to a point now where we are straightforward and honest.  And it’s not the first interview.  All my regional scouts interviewed these players during the year, so by the end we’ve probably got about three interviews with them.

ND: What is your personal opinion on the CHL’s ban of European goalies?

DM: My personal opinion – I can understand why they’re doing it.  I can see why they’re doing it, it remains to be seen whether it’s going to work or not.  Fundamentally, this may come right down to the grassroots level.  I would never second guess the decisions Hockey Canada and the CHL have made because they’ve been very successful.  Fundamentally, if it solves the problem in a different way then that’s good.  If we want Canadian goaltenders, I can support the notion.  How you’re going to do it is obviously going to be up for debate, especially in this type of manner.  But that’s something they’re going to try and hopefully it helps.  It’s going to be a question mark going forward.  It will give Canadian goaltenders at this upper level the chance to play.  If it helps the kids at a lower level see that they will get a better chance, then that’s good.

ND: Let’s hand out a few Maple Leaf Prospect Awards – starting with “Most Improved Player”

DM: Greg McKegg, Tom Nilsson, Josh Leivo

ND: “Best goal scorer”

DM: Leivo or Connor Brown

ND: “Best defensive forward”

DM: This can’t be recent drafts obviously? [read: Gauthier] I may throw you off a little with this one, but I’m going to say Tyler Biggs.  Very good penalty killer.

ND: “Best all-around defenseman”

DM: Morgan Rielly

ND: “Toughest son of a gun”

DM: Three way toss up between Devane, Biggs and Broll.

ND: “Best locker room personality” and “Most likely to be an NHL captain”

DM: Oh, an interesting question.  I would say Morgan.

SHARE
Previous article On Scoring Chances and other things
Next article Questions for Poulin
Nikhil has been writing for MLHS since the site launched in 2008. He misses talking about Mats Sundin and is currently entrenched in enemy territory (Boston) pursuing a doctoral degree. Contact Nikhil here: [email protected]
  • Jmessih

    I like how Dave is really honest and actually answers the questions and gives answer that are great in general.
    He always seems like that during his interviews (TV) and didn’t MLHT interview him before and get similar fantastic answers, really like the guy!!

  • Favell66

    Very good interview .  Thanks very much. You just don’t get information like this anywhere else but here !!!

  • 2minutes

    Interesting that Leivo is developing so well. Reilly will be a beauty, but we can’t rush him. Let him go back to junior. I don’t care if he has nothing left to prove. Let him muscle up and have no pressure for another year.

    • Dan39

      Morgan’s already over 200lbs so it’s not so much adding muscle as it is learning how to use his body. He’s physically strong, but doesn’t play strong.
      You notice when you watch him, he’s very weak in the corners and in front of the net.
      To me Colborne is a guy who just isn’t strong enoguh for his 6’5″ frame – if anyone needs to add 30 lbs, it’s that guy!

  • leafmealone

    Great set of questions, and a great interview. Thanks for that. Always like to hear from Morrison as he (as well as Jim Hughes, and Poulin) always provide very candid but well thought out answers. There’s a clear intelligence behind the way the guys articulate the thinking that is going on behind the scenes. Makes a fan feel good about the hands that our team’s future are in.

    • Jmessih

      leafmealone Very true!! Love those guys, I’m a little worried about Hughes sometimes tho. “Rielly has nothing left to learn in junior”

      • leafmealone

        Jmessih leafmealone Well, he’s not saying that he has nothing to learn in hockey, just that the he’s passed the level of competition that he’s facing in junior and would be better suited furthering his game in a professional environment. He could still play in the WJC if in the AHL/NHL. The problem is that he isn’t old enough for the AHL, and may be being pushed too far to jump into the NHL at this point.

        • Jmessih

          leafmealone Jmessih He should go to Moose Jaw work on the defensive side of his game, work on rubbing guys out, learning to sue his body put on some muscle continue to grow his offensive game and be a leader for team Canada at the world juniors.
          If he goes back to JR his development will be very similar to that of Alex Pertrangilo. Mind you Alex played a few games in the NHL before being send down. I think the year of junior is very important for his development

        • leafmealone

          Jmessih leafmealone Pietrangelo was a big bodied kid who used the year to put on some weight and get adjusted to his frame. Rielly is by all accounts physically well developed, and could likely get more benefit from doing what you’re suggesting against other physically mature players rather than a bunch of players up to three years younger than him in the WHL.

        • leafmealone

          Jmessih leafmealone Also, I think the problem with him in junior is that his skating gets him out of a lot of his problems and allows him to be less defensively focused. He isn’t being forced to pay for defensive mistakes like being out of position in the same way that he would have to be in the AHL/NHL, so in that light, going back to junior could actually be a detriment if he’s not careful.

        • Jmessih

          leafmealone Jmessih But when the other teams 6’3″ guy is cycling the puck Reilly’s skating wont do shit, well maybe a little to intercept a pass, that is where he can learn to defense those gibber guys, when it doesn’t cost the leafs a goal. He should spend the year really working on his positioning and ability to defend those bigger players.

        • Jmessih

          leafmealone Jmessih not solely that, but of course that would be a large focus b/c his skating and offense are in great shape

        • dlb eh

          Jmessih leafmealone 
          Lidstrom and others haven’t suffered for it.  Reilly will be as big as Doughty … hand eye can beat braun …

  • taylor_wright

    Great job Nikhil! Morrison seems like a pretty straight shooter. 
    I’m very interested in seeing how Granberg looks this season, the organization seems very high on him. And up front, I’m feeling the same way about Leivo, another guy the organization is high on.

    • Dan39

      If he doesn’t make the Leafs does he play for the Marlies?

      • leafmealone

        Dan39 Yes. He’s committed to coming over to NA, and is old enough to play for the Marlies if he doesn’t make the Leafs.

        • Dan39

          Can’t wait!

        • rustynail

          leafmealone Dan39 age doesn’t matter since hes not coming from the CHL

      • Jmessih

        Dan39 Both will be suiting up for the Marlies next year, would be good to get some Marlies tickets

        • Dan39

          Well we’d love to have another hard core fan down at Richo – great value, $31/ticket to sit on the glass and $5 parking for season seat holders.

        • Jmessih

          Dan39 I live in Ottawa :(

        • rustynail

          Jmessih Dan39 my condolences

  • dlb eh

    Morgan Reilly

  • dlb eh

    Nikhil Daljeet

  • leafmealone

    -Keon- Hughes spoke a fair bit previously on Toninato and Camarenesi during the interviews he gave during the prospect camp.

  • mr_hanie

    Anybody here know who is head of amateur scouting with Detroit….Its unbelievable that this person lurks in the shadows…he has picked up Hall of Famers since Steve Y was drafted.

    • mr_hanie

      -Keon- the answer is Jim Nill…now a GM of Dallas Stars…somebody noticed.

      • Jmessih

        mr_hanie -Keon- Nil was the assistant GM in Detroit not the head of scouting, also the real gem in the Detriot is Hakan Andersson their Director of European Scouting. He is the one who gets all their steals believe me this is the guy people rave about.
        SCOUTING
        http://redwings.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=43944Director of Pro Scouting
        http://redwings.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=43945Pro Scout
        http://redwings.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=90611 Pro Scout
        http://redwings.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=83944Pro Scout
        http://redwings.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=90613Director of Amateur Scouting
        Jeff Finley Chief Amateur Scout
        David Kolb Amateur Scout
        Sam Lites Amateur Scout
        Mario Marois Amateur Scout
        http://redwings.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=90612 Amateur Scout
        Marty Stein Part-Time Amateur Scout
        Kelly Harper Part-Time Amateur Scout
        Len Quesnelle Part-Time Amateur Scout
        Hakan Andersson Director of European Scouting
        Vladimir Havluj European Scout
        Evgeni Erfilov European Scout
        Ari Vouri European Scout
        Nikolai Vakourov European Scout

  • Jmessih

    -Keon- no…maybe just the agent, keep Franson

  • Jmessih

    CanuckUKinToronto to me Biggs needs to show a little more, especially offensively.

    • Dan39

      He needs to fight too. Someone should send him the link to Lucic highlights from the Vancouver Giants.

      • Jmessih

        Dan39 Ya he was a beast their then he join the Bruins and no I don’t like him lol
        But boy would I like Biggs to end up like him, but really I don’t expect anywhere near that amount of offense

  • oednep

    who’s Carter Brown?

    • Jmessih

      oednep Gotta be a type for Conner Brown

      • Jmessih

        oednep typo*

  • Burtonboy

    Great read Nik. Amazing stuff about all our prospects but man are these guys pumped about Morgan Rielly . Best all round defenseman eh.

    • dlb eh

      Burtonboy 
      and strong in the room, captain material …

  • Anthony Petrielli

    -Keon- I don’t have time now Keon but I talked a bit with Morrison about their college guys in my interview earlier this year. We’ll chat about them later. Morrison and I spoke for over an hour so I didn’t include everything.

    • Anthony Petrielli

      -Keon- Nah. I already posted the main stuff from that in like March or whatever it was. Some of the stuff was off the record that I can’t share anyways. We did talk about the college guys though so I’ll talk about that with ya later on. Maybe Monday would be best.

    • rustynail

      Anthony Petrielli -Keon- when is the next notenook coming? :))))

      • Anthony Petrielli

        rustynail Anthony Petrielli -Keon- I had something planned and then this Franson stuff came up. Had almost 1000 words written on the defense and now it all seems hypothetical at best. Will probably hold off until Monday… Alec doesn’t seem to think Franson will move.

  • rustynail

    CanuckUKinToronto that impressed me and he sure looked good defensively in the WJC

  • rustynail

    -Keon- more likely EK north looking for hits

  • Knights2Leafs

    Unless I missed something in the interview, conspicuous by its absence was the lack of mention of Blacker.  Morrison mentions Granberg next in terms of experience for dmen.

    • rustynail

      Knights2Leafs I noticed that too

    • Bobsyouruncle

      Knights2Leafs  Hard to say if that was conscious or just an oversight.

    • dlb eh

      Knights2Leafs 
      i think that was more excitement about Granberg than a slight to Blacker.  i also think Blacker has not done enough to make him in the NHL conversation yet.  i think he still needs to be the go to guy on the Marlies, and this will really be the first year i’d expect him to push for that chance.  in the past he’s been behind some more established guys.  he has always had good tools, but he’s always been very rough around the edges too, so he’s still on a good path imo.
      and i think Brennan is a glimpse into Blacker’s future.  similar types.  TJ has the extra couple years of development.  i love the way our D is shaping up.  i really do.  and it’s not just the beer talking baby.  well that was.

      • Dan39

        dlb eh Knights2Leafs That’s right, Blacker was nursing injuries for most of the first half last year. 
        When I spoke to him after the season I told him like hey man you just exploded i nthe second half, like you were a different player, and that’s when he told me about the injuries. 
        So yeah he hasn’t put together a full season but he should get rated a lot higher and talked about more this season if he plays injury-free.

  • Burtonboy

    -Keon- Biggest problem with that is Ranger is not a R defenseman

    • rustynail

      -Keon- how many hits would Dreger get for that though?

    • Burtonboy

      -Keon- I’ve not seen Grads play right ,at least not with the Leafs . Maybe PP with the Marlie’s just like Ranger has played right PP with the Marlies as well. I’ve heard nothing on Liles and this bit from Dreger was the first of any Franson rumors as well.

    • Xxxxxnew

      He was a forward until he was in college.

    • dlb eh

      -Keon- 
      it’s normally the things that aren’t talked about that go down…are we talking trades?

    • dlb eh

      Xxxxxnew 
      Liles a forward until college?  i didn’t know that.
      maybe with Gardiner and Liles and Reilly in the mix we should try a 3 – 1 – 1 scheme.
      jk

  • wendelsfist

    Tyler Biggs as the best defensive forward that is a revelation, and that sounds more like a Kulemin type third liner winger rather then a Clarkson top 6 grinder.

    • dlb eh

      wendelsfist 
      Biggs has long been touted for his defense, so that’s not a real surprise to me (and others i’m sure).
      it’s probably why lots of people pencil him in on a checking line (now with Bolland) and any of our other top defensive type forwards, like Kulemin.
      not sure if he’s NHL quality yet, but even if he’s not going to be a 25 goal scorer, he very well could be a 15 minute a night power forward who scores 15, hits, fights, and defends the shit out of people :-)

      • wendelsfist

        dlb eh wendelsfist Good to know.  Folks on twitter I probably shouldn’t listen to were calling him  a bust.

      • Dan39

        dlb eh wendelsfist Well he’s definitely not NHL quality based on what I saw. I don’t even think Biggs is a one year project…

        • dlb eh

          Dan39 dlb eh wendelsfist 
          depends on what you hope him to be.
          big guy moves well and has the defensive part of his game already worked out is in a good position to work on the rest of his game.
          if you’re looking for flash then you’ll be disappointed.  if you’re looking for quality puck possession then you might like him.  AHL will be a good test for him and a logical next step.
          you’re probably right that next year will be too soon for him, but i think we’ll be talking about him because we will have seen something from him this year to make us talk about him.

        • Dan39

          dlb eh Dan39 wendelsfist OKay well it’s harder to notice good defensive play from forwards so I’ll watch out for that. We’ll see if he gets a lot of PK time this year – didn’t last year not that he had many games.

  • wendelsfist

    I missed the opportunity to ask questions beforehand but I would have liked to know how the team can expect to add elite potential talent (particularly) for the forwards if they draft in the bottom half of the first round.

    • dlb eh

      wendelsfist 
      i could guess at an answer or tell you what i think.
      we stick to the draft idea of going with the kid we think will “make the biggest impact at the NHL level”, irregardless of the position.
      we hit a home run once in a while, like ANA did with Perry.
      we allow our prospects to develop at the proper pace, and use these assets if a trade presents itself (where we can acquire one of those elite players you’re pining for).

      • wendelsfist

        dlb eh wendelsfist I probably should ask a better question.  For example, how do they decide between choosing between safe players with low potential (third line potential) and a risky player with high upside (top 6 role)?   Most of our selections in the bottom half of the 1st half, are for “safe players” with less upside and transferable attributes (gauthier, biggs)

        • dlb eh

          wendelsfist dlb eh 
          true.  i think they look for the home run later on, and stick to the guy they think most likely to fill an NHL role (ideal player for role) some day.

  • dlb eh

    “who will make the biggest impact”
    i love that mentality
    whether it’s the last guy on the roster or the top scorer or the key face off guy.  after this interview and the interview with Cronin i feel absolutely convinced that we have good hockey people making critical decisions, and in due time we.  will.  be.  a.  perennial.  powerhouse…and maybe even the envy of the league like we ought to be!

    • rustynail

      dlb eh we already must be based on the amount of flack we take. :)

    • Xxxxxnew

      I remember last summer Burke and other managers talking about how important it was that the leafs had a large amount of former and current team captains in the system.

  • rustynail

    https://twitter.com/sunhornbyhttps://twitter.com/sunhornby/status/360855903727124480
    Dominic Moore’s Smashfest! raised 100,000 bucks for his late wife’s foundation on Thursday.

  • Xxxxxnew

    Nonis on signing our RFAs:
    “That’s not a red flag. It’s July,” Nonis said on Sportsnet 590. “I’m not surprised that they’re not signed, and we have a lot of time before we have to start worrying about it.”

    • wendelsfist

      Xxxxxnew Nonis is partying with his big contract.  There is no need to sign players now

  • daveybolland

    MLHS again proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is the best Leafs site on the web.
    Keep up the good work

  • dlb eh

    wendelsfist
    Biggs wasn’t a 17 year old rookie when he joined the Generals, so some people probably expected him to light it up since he was so big, drafted so high (relative) and so on. those same people probably didn’t care a lick how the rest of his game was, only whether or not he could score and fight and intimidate with big hits.
    truth is, he didn’t light it up, but he never had a shift where he was a liability either. he was always skating well, and generally making life easier on his linemates by not getting caught ou of position or making bonehead plays…oh, and he looks out for himself and his team mates.
    Biggs is at the very least…big. and he can skate, and has hands that at worst can get pucks to the smart areas of the ice.
    i don’t expect to see him tear it up on the Marlies this year either. but i do expect him to play well enough that next year at this time, we’re talking about him making the Leafs and being worthy fill in for Kulemin (if he were to go) or whomever he should replace. if he finds some offense, all the better. teams won’t like lining up against him.

    • dlb eh

      wendelsfist 
      sorry i had to do that…wouldn’t work as a reply to you down below there for whatever reason.

    • wendelsfist

      dlb eh wendelsfist Good perspective here.

  • Dangle_My_Berries

    Great interview, thanks for that!

  • Zep2

    I hate the idea of trading Franson. Ive been a booster of his since he suited up in B&W .
    Burke said when he came in that he was going to build from the net out.  Looking at what Nonis has done with the acquisition of Bernier and signing of Ranger , it confirms that the faces are different but the philosophy of team building is intact
    By reading DM’s comments its obvious that thy think the sky is the limit for Rielly and that Granberg could be a top 4 workhorse.

    As for the forwards, besides Leivo,  DM is not as enthusiastic. Franson may be used to go after an elite fwd prospect

    • B_Leaf

      Zep2 
      You might be looking at our three best prospects right there. 
      Although I detect that the organization is a little intrigued with Andrew MacWilliams…gotta see him in action before I can say anything. I also think Gauthier could have upside because of his quick ascent.

      • Dan39

        B_Leaf Zep2 You’re probably right, hard to understate how awesome Leivo was in the AHL given his age. Based on their play, you would assume the opposite draft order with Biggs. 
        The other guy he didn’t mention was Crescenzi – I thought he showed a lot of spark and toughness.

        • B_Leaf

          Dan39 B_Leaf Zep2 
          Yup, of all the kids that played for the Marlies late last year…I thought Leivo looked the most like a pro.

      • Zep2

        B_Leaf Zep2 Yeah, Gauthier looks intriguing. No knock on the fwds in the system  but they are probably playing at the levels expected of them
        Leivo, much like Granberg  could be  draft day steaks

        • B_Leaf

          Zep2 B_Leaf 
          His size alone is intriguing, but watching the video on him, he moves around the ice pretty good. If he were to improve as much this year as he did last year we could hope to have the next Ryan Getzlaf.  I believe Getzlaf was also taken late first round, and he improved a lot after his draft year. We can only hope.

        • dlb eh

          B_Leaf Zep2 
          oh no you didn’t

        • B_Leaf

          dlb eh B_Leaf Zep2 
          sorry…just a slip

        • Xxxxxnew

          When you think just over a year ago he was playing AAA midget, Gauthier is only starting his upward development.

        • B_Leaf

          Xxxxxnew 
          As he learns to use his size to protect the puck that could really work for him…he is one big kid.

        • Xxxxxnew

          Don’t know if you watched his U18 Canada highlights but his sense for the defensive side of the games is scary for a guy that age. Great takeaways with his stick smarts too.

  • Zep2

    BTW, great read Nikhil

  • Biltmore

    Nothing in the interview about “found wallets?”

  • B_Leaf

    Just a great interview Nikhil!!
    Outstanding stuff. I get the feeling Morrison visits the site.

  • TonyMonaco

    I don’t think this has been said enough – THIS SITE ROCKS!!!!
    Thanks for this.

    • dlb eh

      TonyMonaco 
      the internet was created for this site, and only when the internet was perfected was it ready for MLHS.

  • JR from Halifax

    I have been lurking here since 2008

  • Burtonboy

    https://twitter.com/mbrownSN590
    https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Leafs&src=hash Mark Fraser’s arb hearing is July 30th. Two sides talked for 1st time in a month this week, no plans to talk this weekend as of now

    • B_Leaf

      Burtonboy 
      Hey BB, what did DD say about Franson??

      • Burtonboy

        B_Leaf Burtonboy Fuck all really…… just speculating he was asking too much so so expect trade rumors to heat up.

        • B_Leaf

          Burtonboy B_Leaf 
          thanks man

    • dlb eh

      Burtonboy 
      Nonis: i was on MLHS just now, saw something about…yo, what’s this shit about STL?
      Fraser: aw shit.  i had a few pops, you know…
      Nonis: alright.  but why STL?
      Fraser: there’s this guy on MLHS always talking about Pieterangelo.  just came out.  i don’t know.
      Nonis: that guy?  he’s a dumbass.  there’s absolutely nothing in the works with us to acquire Pieterangelo.  you got that?  next time you have a pop, there is nothing to that.  at.  all.  ok?
      Fraser: you kinda make it sound like.
      Nonis: stay classy, Mark.
      Fraser: right.  you too, Dave.

      • dlb eh

        Burtonboy 
        Fraser: (what just happened there?)

  • Optimustic

    Great interview Nik.   Thanks to you and Dave Morrison for that.   There is a lot of info in there to keep us hashing over it for a few days.   
      The first and most important thing I noticed is that our prospect pool is ” developing ” well.  We have more depth in most positions than I remember having in a looong time.  We need to continue building depth in the highly skilled department now, especially at the centre as Dave mentioned.   It seems we’re doing well in the defensive area, now we need to see if we can use some of these assets to help improve our current need up front.

    • dlb eh

      Optimustic 
      you think all that will last a few days here?  haha, you’re certainly optimistic…

  • Xxxxxnew

    Clarkson will be a fan favourite within a dozen games.

    • dlb eh

      Xxxxxnew 
      what a load of crap.
      it will take at least 3 shifts.  maybe two.

      • Xxxxxnew

        I’m talking about converting his contract haters! People who worry about money take a while!

      • skippysleafs

        dlb eh Xxxxxnew I cant remember names but I remember a couple leafs becoming fan favs after one shift, help me out the last one I can remember was against NJ, but who was it first shift nails someone then gets in a fight?

      • skippysleafs

        dlb eh Xxxxxnew it was dion I think

      • dlb eh

        skippysleafs dlb eh Xxxxxnew 
        Boyce?

      • dlb eh

        Xxxxxnew 
        not sure that’ll happen soon.  probably when he lifts us through at least round of the playoffs.  i mean, on his proverbial shoulders.

  • Jordan29

    So Franson wants too much? ok goodbye, see you. Sorry but having a great year as a 4-5-6 defenceman means nothing to me over a 48 game season. Hes been good yes but hes nothing we cant replace. I would hope Rielly is ready to step up if Franson is gone.
    Whats some potential trades people?

    • dlb eh

      Jordan29 
      Pieterangelo

    • dlb eh

      Jordan29 
      Bogosian

    • dlb eh

      Jordan29 
      Smid

      • Jordan29

        dlb eh Jordan29 Smid sounds fair, and you know Edmonton will overpay and add a good pick as well. 

        Phaneuf-Gunnarsson
        Gardiner-Smid
        Fraser-Liles-Rielly(if up)

        • dlb eh

          Jordan29 dlb eh 
          hey, and combine that with the idea of Liles for Matt Martin (NYI) and remember Brennan, Granberg, Holzer may or may not impress yet.
          Ranger signed too eh?

    • dlb eh

      Jordan29 
      Chris Butler?

    • dlb eh

      Jordan29 
      Klesla

    • dlb eh

      Jordan29 
      Robidas

      • Jordan29

        dlb eh Jordan29 Ok you have blown this up enough lol

    • dlb eh

      Jordan29 
      just throwing some shit out there.  my stats are going to suffer for it, but anything with any interest can have it’s own little thread there.

      • Bobsyouruncle

        dlb eh Jordan29 People here don’t judge YOU by stats. They just look at your performance and say, meh.  lol

        • dlb eh

          Bobsyouruncle dlb eh Jordan29 
          classic bob lol

    • The_Polish_Cannon

      Jordan29 no one we can fit under the cap

  • skippysleafs

    Clarkson vs Phaneuf think they have made up

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lejuTnd-X3M

    • dlb eh

      skippysleafs 
      yup.  that’s when they hashed it out.
      Dion: come to TO
      Clarkson: i’ll think about it
      Dion: come to TO
      Clarkson: i will.  i will.

    • Dan39

      skippysleafs Classic Phanuef, tries to weasel his way out of answering the bell and then jumps Clarkson with his shield on. The fact that this was courageous by his standards is why people question whether he is C material…

      • Bobsyouruncle

        Dan39 skippysleafs Clarkson was fresh off the bench and Dion had been on for over a minute when his happened.

        • dlb eh

          Bobsyouruncle Dan39 skippysleafs 
          no math.  no perspective.  please abide by the rules.

  • skippysleafs

    Ya we think we are tough nowadays, dont ever piss off an old hockey player

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DkHXEliMZ3s

    • dlb eh

      skippysleafs 
      what does it say about me, that i want to get that frickin Hadfield bitch

  • skippysleafs

    Check this out, especially when Domi is Trash talking the flyers after potvin does in Hextall
     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QHcXtEVdag

    • skippysleafs

      Goalie fight with the goalies the only ones with nuts enough to take there helmets off

      • Dan39

        skippysleafsOnly ones with balls for a bucket toss? Allow me to introduce you to our very own David Broll 

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNset3PpRlY

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNset3PpRlY

        • dlb eh

          Dan39 skippysleafs 
          he came.  he Sol.  he conquered.  and that’s Broll i got to say about that.

        • skippysleafs

          Dan39 skippysleafs Yep I like him

        • Burtonboy

          dlb eh Dan39 skippysleafs ” painful ” lol

        • Dan39

          dlb eh Dan39 skippysleafs lol

    • dlb eh

      skippysleafs 
      lol
      Probert, wow.  but don’t ever question how tough Tie was.

    • rustynail

      skippysleafs love Domi

  • GeorgeCastanza

    “Captain Morgan”

  • GeorgeCastanza

    Yaknowwhat As soon as McArthur became a senaturd he is all of a sudden the best palyer ever.  Saw that script a mile away.  Media’s got a habturd and senaturd bias so this is no shock.

  • dlb eh

    Shift_Disturber1 
    that swedish kid they drafted a few years ago?  magnus p-r-v ?  maybe a 2nd.
    (i’m afraid to venture out onto the internet to look too)

  • LeafsForLife

    Great job Nikhil! Enjoyed the questions and the answers. The one thing i noticed was missing was the mention of Colborne possibly making the jump.

  • peterbleafs

    Awesome article.  Thank you very much.

  • dlb eh

    Why i like Clarkson, reason #16
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r0-_py_yKjI

  • dlb eh

    Why i like Clarkson, #4
    (everyone acts like the monkey who didn’t see nothin’)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0YCMxWGv1U

  • Lescott

    Captain Morgan… Hey get your foot down kid, shave that ‘stache.

    • daveybolland

      Lescott so excited about this kid. Leafs mgmt seems to show no hesitation in hyping him up. He’s the real deal

  • Xxxxxnew

    Gauthier’s hand is bigger than Nonis’s head in that photo above the writeup.

  • Leafbites

    Excellent work, offering these insightful interviews for off-season musings. Morrison isn’t quite as engaging as Hughes in interviews, in terms of the develop guys, but he has an honesty about him that makes him interesting.

  • Xxxxxnew

    Bring the Cup Home RNH plus two good shoulders.