Photo Credit: Sportsnet
Photo Credit: Sportsnet
With just seven games left on the schedule for the 2010-2011 NHL season, the Toronto Maple Leafs are still in the hunt for the playoffs. Currently sitting five points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, the Leafs need to keep winning and hope that they get the help they need from the teams ahead of them to sneak into the postseason. Buoyed by the excellent goaltending of James Reimer, the Leafs are looking like a cohesive team committed to pushing as hard as they can towards the common goal of a playoff berth. With any good team, every player has to contribute and commit to the all-important team-first philosophy. Nazem Kadri, recently recalled for his second stint with the big club, is showing he is ready to stick around this time.
- Matt Frattin‘s magical season just keeps on going. Frattin scored the WCHA title clinching goal, burying a rebound in double overtime in Saturday night’s championship game, lifting his Fighting Sioux squad to a 3-2 victory over the University of Denver. The crowd of over 16,000 at the Xcel Energy Center greeted the WCHA Player of the Year with roaring “Hobey Baker” chants as Frattin was introduced during the pre-game warmup. Next up for Matt is the NCAA Championship tournament, which will begin Sunday morning with the selection show where his North Dakota team is expected to garner a #1 seed.
- Jake Gardiner has impressed thus far during his first two games with the Marlies, despite not yet recording a point. Gardiner’s smooth skating ability and on-ice vision have come as advertised for the point-a-game collegiate defenseman, and he has utilized those skills to effectively set up a variety of scoring chances for his teammates. Eakins has thrown the 20 year old right into the fire, relying on him for heavy even strength minutes and penalty killing duties as well. The Marlies are currently toying with the notion of employing Gardiner as the lone defenseman on a four forward power play, which has been inconsistent throughout the year. Jake’s poise, creativity and puck-moving ability could see him in Toronto as early as mid-season next year.
- Another player who has provided the Marlies with much needed injection of offensive production is Joe Colborne, who came over from Boston in the Kaberle trade. The lumbering power forward has scored 6 goals and added 4 assists through 12 games, and has responded well to the increased power play time and offensive responsibility. He’s done a good job of using his size to create time and space in the slot and in front of the net, and in turn capitalizing on screens, tips and rebounds. In fact, the Marlies have scored 15 power play goals during Colborne’s first 11 games in the lineup, which is a direct result of the work he’s put in to dominate the low slot.
Cinderella story, outta nowhere, about to become a Stanley Cup Champion. It looks like a mirac...IT'S IN THE NET! IT'S IN THE NET! (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
He's back. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Updated scouting reports for recent call ups Nazem Kadri and Matt Lashoff (with files from Clayton Hansler):
Ranked 7th in AHL rookie scoring with 41 pts (44-17-24-41) and second overall in the AHL with eight first goals .. Kadri has adapted to some added bulk and cranked up the toughness .. isn’t afraid to engage in tight and along the boards .. physical game isn’t his forte however, despite improvement, and he relies on skills and dangles .. can waiver with intensity blending into the background, yet explosive enough to be able to exploit breakdowns and set up scoring chances seemingly out of nowhere that can change the tide of a game (first goals to open the game are an example) ..
Matt Frattin’s 2010-2011 collegiate season has been nothing short of spectacular and the nation’s leading goal scorer was officially recognized for it with WCHA Player of the Year honours. The Fighting Sioux senior has destroyed the stat sheet to the tune of 29 goals and 49 points in 37 games played, earning him the conference’s scoring title while amassing the most points by any North Dakota forward in 10 years. That’s actually one more goal than Matt scored in his entire first 3 NCAA seasons combined. Only 19 months ago, Frattin’s hockey career appeared to be in serious jeopardy when he was arrested for the second time by North Dakota police for a DUI, resulting in his dismissal from the school’s hockey programme. After being reinstated, he rebounded impressively to finish last season with 19 points in 24 games played, prompting myself to identify Matt as a big-time breakout candidate for 2011:
“Matt is a multi-talented player who can give you goal scoring ability while chipping in some physical play as well. Heâ€™s flying way under the radar right now, but donâ€™t be surprised if heâ€™s one of the names generating a ton of prospect buzz next season.”
Frattin could find himself with even more hardware at season’s end as he is amongst the favourites to win the Hobey Baker Award for the nation’s Most Outstanding Player. But for now, he will focus his attention on leading No. 1 ranked North Dakota to an NCAA title, starting with the WCHA playoffs against No. 12 seed Michigan State.
However, things could get interesting at season’s end. As a full four year commit, Frattin will find himself in the same situation as former Chicago prospect Bill Sweatt last summer. Although Frattin is still “technically” a Maple Leaf prospect, he will hold a ton of leverage in negotiations as he can simply choose to wait past the August deadline and become an unrestricted free agent. In addition to increased financial demands, Matt could also request a guaranteed NHL roster spot in the fall and the Sweatt negotiations showed that Burke is not fond of agents or players employing hardball tactics. Whatever the end result, Frattin’s journey to the NHL promises to be an intriguing storyline to follow.
Andrew Crescenzi: he will kick your glass. (Photo Credit: The Record)
Andrew Crescenzi : he will kick your glass. (Photo Credit: The Record)
Earlier this afternoon, Justin Fisher (co-host of the Steve Dangle show) tweeted the rather impressive stat-lines of a few Leafs’ prospects.
For those not on Twitter, I’ve included in this update the prospects Justin mentioned — along with a few others — after the jump.
Players currently in the professional ranks (AHL, ECHL) are not included in this listing.
"I can't explain how excited I am to finally be here, to get the blue and white on and start playing."
Toronto has not seen a Providence Bruin since the team last visited on March 4th, 2009. But as rumours of Tomas Kaberle’s trade to Boston slowly turned to fact, the Rhode Island AHL club certainly received a spike in their traffic from North of the border.
Brian Burke, President and General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, announced Friday that the Toronto Maple Leafs had acquired former first-round pick Joe Colborne along with a first round selection in the upcoming draft as well as a conditional 2012 second round pick. Colborne, hailing from Calgary, Alberta, has spent 55 games of his very first professional season working with the Providence Bruins, AHL affiliate to the NHL’s Boston team of the same name.
The news of Tomas Kaberle’s exit, despite considerable advanced warning, set in as reality this afternoon and was immediately followed by a feeling of sadness as the Leafs bid adieu to their well-liked longest tenured member and remaining tie to prelockout playoff hockey in Toronto. A surprisingly handsome return of first round prospect Joe Colborne, Boston’s first round pick and a conditional pick that could end up as high as a second rounder has mixed the emotions with an excitement for a brighter future.
Some would suggest the most valuable piece and true target for Brian Burke in last week’s Francois Beauchemin deal is University of Wisconsin defenceman Jake Gardiner. Undoubtedly, the inclusion of Joffrey Lupul and his $4.25 million cap hit was designed to make the monies work from Anaheim’s perspective. However, the term “salary dump” can be a bit demeaning in the sense that there was some reason Lupul received the contract he did from Philadelphia in the first place, and statistical indications suggest he can still be a decent second line forward in the NHL. That said, there is no foundation for this deal without Anaheim’s inclusion of the 20-year-old Minnesota native.
D'Amigo getting roughed up by a couple of Greyhounds
After a consistently inconsistent first half of the season with the Marlies, forward prospect Jerry D’Amigo was recently demoted to the OHL, joining the Kitchener Rangers for their stretch run. Jerry Hicks of The Record explains to us that since getting sent down, D’Amigo has been the target of all sorts of trash talk from opposing players:
“They just say, you know, â€˜Way to get sent downâ€™. Things like that,â€ said Dâ€™Amigo. “Iâ€™ve just got to brush it off.â€
Instead of chirping back, the young American has let his play do most of the talking thus far with 2 goals and 2 assists in 2 games played, both Ranger wins. Kitchener Head Coach Steve Spott explained that D’Amigo has provided the team with aÂ big boost to their special teams play and is always a threat to score shorthanded. However, he warns that Jerry will be the target of opposing checking lines every night and will have to be mentally tough to flourish.
The Maple Leafs’ brass hope that a strong finish to the season and a lengthy playoff run with the Rangers will help D’Amigo regain his confidence and notch some big game experience under his belt. Early signs out of Kitchener are positive.
Matt Frattin introducing himself to 6'3 200 lb defenseman Mark Alt
A little over halfway through the season, it’s time to tear our eyes away from the bottom of the NHL standings for a second and see how the future of the Maple Leafs are doing. Notable breakout players include Owen Sound’s puckmoving defenseman Jesse Blacker and NCAA goal scoring machine Matt Frattin out of the University of North Dakota. Below is a brief overview of some of the Maple Leafs’ biggest movers, either up or down, the organizational depth chart.
Claus Andersen/Getty Images
It appears as if goaltender Jussi Rynnas is adjusting well to life in North America after a bit of a rough start at the Maple Leafs’ rookie camp in September. Rynnas posted a perfect 3-0-0 record this past week to go along with a scintillating 1.00 GAA and 0.971 SV% en route to earning the AHL’s Player of the Week honours. Overall on the season, the 23 year old Finnish netminder boasts a 3-3-1 record, a 1.95 GAA and 0.936 SV%.
Here’s what Allaire had to say about Rynnas back in September:
â€œI like his size for sure. Heâ€™s a very big guy. For a guy of his size, I like his speed. Good legs. Very quick glove. Heâ€™s got different good tools. He has a lot of good points.â€
James Reimer, the other half of the Marlies’ youthful dynamic duo between the pipes, has gone 5-3-1 with a 2.90 GAA and 0.918 SV% through 9 games. Meanwhile, Alberta native Ben Scrivens, Toronto’s other free agent signee of the summer, is 4-3 with a 2.46 GAA and 0.931 SV% through 7 games played for the Reading Royals of the ECHL.
On Tuesday it was announced Ryan Hamilton will miss 4-6 weeks with a knee injury. And so it startsâ€¦ again.
Devastated by injuries and call-ups last season, the Marlies failed to make the playoffs for only the second time since the AHL club returned to Toronto. 425 man games lost. That equates to a 5.3 players sitting out each and every game of a 80 game season – so let’s say, five and a backup goaltender.
Already this season the Marlies have seen talented forwards Christian Hanson and Luca Caputi get the call up to the show, as well as physical defenceman Korbinian Holzer. Ryan Hamilton joins Simon Gysbers and Danny Richmond in the press box, all suffering from separate ailments. All this is on top of Jay Rosehill, Alex Foster and James Reimer who had already spent time on the day-to-day list.
The Maple Leafs' 62nd Overall Selection in the 2010 NHL Draft
Greg McKegg has had a bit of an up and down week with multi-point games one night and zilch the next night. However, McKegg is still on pace for a phenomenal season with 19 points through 11 games played and sitting 2nd overall in league scoring behind Niagara’s Ryan Strome. Despite his efforts, the Erie captain has had a tough time carrying the Otters to respectability this season, as they currently last in the OHL’s Western Conference. The team’s poor start has fueled rumors across the league that McKegg could be on the move to a contender relatively soon, possibly to the London Knights.
Morrisonn welcomes Ross to the Maple Leafs' organization
Not a bad start for the Maple Leafs’ 2010 draft class… It was announced on Monday that forward prospects Greg McKegg, the Leafs’ 3rd round pick 62nd overall, and Brad Ross, the Leafs’ 2nd round pick 43rd overall, were named OHL and WHL Players of the Week respectively for the week of September 27th to October 3rd. Not to be forgotten is forward Josh Nicholls, the team’s 7th round pick 182nd overall who is off to a career best start for the Saskatoon Blades.
Leaf prospect Josh Nicholl’s 2010-2011 season had gotten off to such a promising start. Currently tied for 6th overall in WHL scoring with 5 goals and 5 assists for 10 points in 6 games played, the Maple Leafs’ 2010 7th round pick seemed on his way to a potential D’Amigo style breakout campaign. Playing on the Blades’ top line with Marek Viedensky and Curtis Hamilton, everything seemed to be clicking for the youngster. However, on Wednesday night, a poor decision from Tri-City Americans forward Brendan Shinnimin could prove to be a serious setback to Josh’s progress.
Late in the third period with Saskatoon up 5-3 thanks to a 3 point effort from Nicholls, the young forward was chasing down a puck in the offensive zone when he received cross-check from Shinnimin to his lower back, which caused Nicholls to be flung forward viciously headfirst into the end boards. Thankfully, Josh had turned his head to the side a split second earlier to follow the trajectory of a teammate’s pass or he might’ve suffered a much more severe injury. As it stands, the Blades have Nicholls listed as out at least a week with a concussion, though as we’ve seen on many an occasion in hockey, the recovery timeline for these kind of injuries can be very hard to predict. Shinnimin received a 5 minute boarding major and a game misconduct on the play.
To view the hit, click here.
As we await the season opener for the big club, let’s see how some of the kids are doing:
- Greg McKegg is off to an excellent start with 8 points in 5 games played for the Erie Otters. Greg recorded two shorthanded goals and added another assist for good measure in a 5-2 win last night over the London Knights. McKegg is currently tied for 5th overall in OHL scoring.
- Brad Ross has also started well out of the gate with 4 goals and 5 points in 3 games played for the Portland Winterhawks. Without Nino Niederreiter and possibly Ryan Johansen this season, Ross will be counted upon to shoulder a much bigger offensive load. He’s responded well so far, taking a hold of the team’s scoring lead in addition to posting a team best +5 rating.
- Jesse Blacker is back with the Owen Sound Attack and has 2 points through 2 games played. It’s clear that Blacker has plenty of offensive potential, but he will have to work at rounding out the other areas of his game and improve upon last year’s team worst -22 rating.
- The Toronto Marlies have started their hockey season on a positive note with back to back preseason wins over the Rochester Americans. Forward Marcel Mueller has been an absolute force so far, recording 4 goals and 1 assist for 5 points through the pair of games. The much maligned Mikhail Stefanovich will look for a big rebound year and is off to a good start with a pair of goals in the preseason opener. James Reimer was the winning goaltender on Friday while Ben Scrivens stopped 21 of 24 shots for the victory on Saturday. Toronto will open the season Saturday, October 9th against the Rochester Americans at the Ricoh Coliseum.
Matt Fratin, seen here hosting McNaughton Cup (WCHA Regular Season Title) is a breakout candidate for 2010-2011
At this time last year, Jerry D’Amigo was a little known Maple Leafs’ draftee who had been passed over 157 times by other clubs only a few months before. After a banner year at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the NCAA and a brilliant run at the World Juniors, the not even 20 year old D’Amigo currently finds himself with an NHL contract, an invite to training camp, and a legitimate shot at making his dreams come true as soon as this fall. That was last year. Now let’s take a look at some of the names that could be making some serious headway up the Leafs’ organizational depth charts in 2010-2011.
Image c/o J.P. Nikota / PensionPlanPuppets.com
“Being a kid growing up just outside Toronto, you always want to play for your team you watched growing up, and Toronto’s my team.”
It was one of the last things Andrew Engelage said after a lengthy discussion at the Ricoh Coliseum, but it definitely resonated the loudest.
There’s nothing quite like the story of the home-grown athlete. Everyone likes asking Oakville’s John Mitchell what it’s like to put on the Leafs sweater every day, or trying to find some way to relate to Jesse Blacker’s being drafted by his local club. But when adversity is thrown into the mix, when a player has to go through some degree of hardship to make it to not only the level he wants to be, but for the team he wants to play for, that’s when a story becomes a best seller.
Alex and I will once again continue the Young Guns prospect draft. We are drafting:
6 9 forwards, 4 defensemen, 1 goaltender
Total of 22 young players with a birthday year no later than 1986 (24 yrs old max)
Contract status and/or cap hit will not be taken into account
The draft will take place live in the comments section for all readers to follow, so be sure to come out and provide your two cents as it happens. More details after the jump.
Join us in the comments as Alex Tran and I go head-to-head carving up the Leafs youth.
(Note**) – for the record I will be making the picks for each of us as Alex is
boozing busting loose at some bar. I asked him if he was drunk, he said no, but his picks will tell show us the truth.
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