Last Wednesday (September 1st), Toronto’s MasterCard Centre for Excellence, the Maple Leafs’ own practice facility, played host to the 2010 NHLPA Rookie Symposium in association with trading card leaders Upper Deck and Panini America. MLHS’ own Gus Katsaros was in attendance, and has kindly provided audio from his own conversation, as well as portions of a larger media scrum Q&A, with Leafs’ top prospect Nazem Kadri.
The Toronto Maple Leafs will host their rookie tournament this year in London, Ontario from September 11th to the 14th, and Maple Leafs Hot Stove will have unprecedented, wall-to-wall coverage of the event.
Join us here for live game blogs, game previews, game reviews, exclusive interviews, and more! Â Today, we will look at the top ten Leafs players who will be worth paying extra close attention to at this weekend’s event.
The Toronto Maple Leafs 2010 rookie tournament is coming to London, Ontario and Maple Leafs Hot Stove is pleased to announce that we will have exclusive, unprecedented coverage of the event!
Just confirmed earlier tonight, I will be in attendance at the John Labatt Centre for the duration of the tournament, providing up to date news from the rookie tournament for the Toronto Maple Leafs, as well as the other competing teams (Pittsburgh, Ottawa, and Chicago.)
As part of our exclusive coverage, I am pleased to announce that we will have game day previews, game day recaps, live blogs, live tweeting, as well as exclusive interviews with some of the Leafs biggest rookies and prospects.
According to numerous sources, including the Canadian Press, the Toronto Maple Leafs and prospect Jerry D’Amigo are expected to finalize a three year entry level deal sometime this week. Â The move would see D’Amigo forfeit his NCAA eligibility and likely join the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League, who own his CHL rights.
D’Amigo, drafted in the sixth round of last year’s entry draft, has quickly rocketed to the top of the prospect depth chart over the past year. Â He played an integral role in the USA’s World Junior upset over Canada this past January in Saskatchewan.
It’s that time of year again. The Canadian World Junior Development Camp for the 2011 tournament in Buffalo is under way, as the Canadians try to bounce back from a heartbreaking loss against D’Amigo and the Americans. Here are some thoughts on the Leafs’ prospects’ chances of making their respective world junior teams:
- Bradley Ross is the lone Maple Leaf prospect invited to Canada’s Development Camp, but is sitting out the on-ice scrimmages due to a pulled groin. Barring a terrible season, he should have a good chance making the team in order to assume the agitator/pest role vacated by Cormier and Della Rovere. However, he could be facing stiff competition from Cody Eakin, a top scorer in the WHL, who is tearing up the scoresheet at camp so far.
- Jesse Blacker and Greg McKegg were not invited to camp. Unless he makes significant strides forward defensively, Blacker will likely not have a realistic chance at making the squad after finishing with a team worst -22 rating for Owen Sound last season. As is the case every year, the Canadians will be absolutely loaded with premium offensive talents so McKegg will also have to step his game up to another level and improve his two-way play if he hopes to crack the team’s top six. The odds are certainly stacked against these two because no player not invited to last year’s Development Camp made the eventual final roster.
- Jerry D’Amigo should have a top six spot all but locked up for the American squad after being one of the program’s best forwards for both gold medal winning U-18 and U-20 teams over the past couple seasons.
- Swedish stay-at-home defenseman Petter Granberg could have a shot on Sweden’s blueline. He played on last year’s silver medal U-18 team and will be playing full-time in the Swedish Elite League in the fall.
- Power forward Sondre Olden will be one of the youngest players at the tournament this year, but that was already the case last season.Â At 17 years old, he helped the U-20 Norwegian team capture gold in the Division-1 tournament, thus earning a berth in Canada’s group for the 2011 tournament. He has been a huge centerpiece of their national junior teams, having also singlehandedly led the U-18 team to a Division-1 gold medal with 22 points in 5 games last season. Seriously, who wins two gold medals in one year?
The Maple Leafs announced on Wednesday afternoon that they had come to terms on a two year entry-level contract with 22 year old free agent forward Marcel Mueller. Mueller is a 6’4 212 lb power forward who has spent the past 4 seasons playing against men in the top German league. He had a terrific ’09-’10 breakout campaign that saw him record 56 points in 53 games played, good for 13th overall in league scoring.
Although it has Mueller has been rumored to be a target of NHL teams for a couple of seasons now, the recent transfer agreement reached by the DEL and NHL in late June has allowed Marcel to be officially pursued by NHL clubs.
Just a month ago, the Chicago Blackhawks were the envy of the National Hockey League. Â Having finished off the Philadelphia Flyers in six games courtesy of a Patrick Kane overtime goal, the Hawks had climbed to the top of the mountain, and had risen out of what could once have been considered obscurity years earlier, to build a winning team, and break the Stanley Cup drought that loomed over the franchise for so long.
And while many general managers stood in jealousy and envy of Stan Bowman and his management team for the feat they had just accomplished, not one GM was going to envying Bowman in the days following.
For the Chicago Blackhawks, winning the Stanley Cup came at a price, and it was rather large.
Since they won the Stanley Cup, the Blackhawks have made many moves, tearing down their roster that brought them their once elusive championship. Â Fan favourites were shipped out in favour of draft picks and younger players, on cheaper contracts.
One of those trades involved Kris Versteeg, a trade Brian Burke was all too happy to accommodate.
Brian Burke must have felt a lot like the eponymous Old Mother Hubbard when he first reached into the Leafs prospects cupboard. Of course, unlike the elderly dog-mistreating crone of the rhyme, Burke already knew what lay in stock prior to his arrival in Leafs country. In short: a few notable exceptions to a decade of draft property mismanagement.
Subsequently, the draft of 2009 looked to be a vital cornerstone in Brian Burkeâ€™s rebuild. The first chance for the Leafs to restock in a new, finally directed era.
Yesterday was a big day in Leafs Nation. Â And I think I speak for all fans when I say it’s about time. Â While two teams are currently battling for the opportunity to lift Lord Stanley’s Cup, the Toronto Maple Leafs have been forced to sit on the sidelines and watch, bide their time with the other half of the league who wasn’t fortunate enough to make into the NHL’s playoffs.
And while they have kept themselves busy, and Brian Burke has shown a penchant for rarely letting his team slip into the background, a lot of hype has been leading toward this time of year.
Even without a first-or second-round draft pick, the Toronto Maple Leafs are still making plenty of waves, and it appears Burke is fit to make an impression at the draft, whether he is selecting or not.
Which, although he would never admit it, would be the perfect way to steal the spotlight back from the doom and gloom position of Boston using the Leafs pick to select a potential franchise cornerstone.
Tomas Kaberle, long been rumoured to be on his way out of Toronto, may be inching closer and closer with each passing day. Â As the calendar flipped to June yesterday, and now with the entry draft and free agency now firmly in sight on the horizon, it appears Kaberle’s time with the Toronto Maple Leafs is now being measured in days.
JESSE BLACKER (#21) – D
Date of Birth: April 19, 1991
Hometown: Toronto, ON
Height: 6'2" | Weight: 190lbs | Shoots: Right
Drafted: Toronto's 3rd Choice, 58th Overall, in 2009
Price Tag: AHL $67,500Â | NHL $640,000
Signed Through: 2013
- Won the Memorial Cup with the Windsor Spitfires in 2009
- Lead all Owen Sound defensemen during 09/10 in goals (6), assists (24) and points (30)
- Made his AHL debut on March 20th 2010 vs. Hamilton
- Registered one assist and a plus-two rating in first AHL appearance
In the second installment of the Prospect Season In Review, we will take a look at a couple of Maple Leafs prospects who have proven a positive product of the John Ferguson Jr / Cliff Fletcher draft era.
Profiles in this segment include German DEL winger Jerome Flaake and defender Korbinian Holzer, as well as a prospect closer to home: Windsor Spitfires winger Dale Mitchell.
After stockpiling up on picks during the past couple drafts as well as cornering the European and college free agent markets, the Maple Leafs’ farm system is beginning to reap the rewards of unprecedented depth and talent. In the first installment of our MLHS “Prospect Season in Review” series, I’ll be taking a look at three of the team’s top prospects: Kenny Ryan, James Reimer, and Joel Champagne.
The Leafs continued their offseason stockpiling of goaltenders today, announcing that they have signed College free agent Ben Scrivens to a one year contract.
Scrivens compiled an impressive 21-9-4 record with Cornell last year, with a .934 save percentage. Â He was also a top ten Hobey Baker finalist.
According to TSN, It is expected that Scrivens will challenge for playing time on the Toronto Marlies.
More after the jump.
Brian Burke has picked up yet another wallet. According to a Finnish report, the Toronto Maple Leafs have agreed to terms on a two year deal with Finnish free agent goaltender Jussi RynnÃ¤s. Jussi is still just 22 years of age, and is coming off a stellar year in the Finnish SM-Liiga in which he posted a 2.50 GAA and a 0.929 SV%. RynnÃ¤s is still at least a couple years away from being NHL-ready, and will start next season splitting time with James Reimer for the Toronto Marlies. Jussi was arguably this year’s most coveted free agent goaltender, along with NCAA netminder Ben Scrivens, whom the Leafs had also been linked to over the past couple weeks.
While Hockey’s Future has yet to release their top 10 organizational prospect rankings, the highly-respected source for prospect information has released their 11-20 and 21-30 lists. To the pleasant surprise of many, the Leafs aren’t on either of them.
Adding to the joy, division rivals Buffalo, Montreal and Ottawa have all already appeared in the 13th, 16th and 21st positions respectively.
Last night, the London Knights – and Leafs prospect Nazem Kadri – were eliminated from the OHL playoffs in a Game 7 blowout at the hands of the Kitchener Rangers.
For his part, Kadri makes his playoff exit as the OHL’s post-season scoring leader with a remarkable 9 goals and 18 assists in 12 games.
The Kitchener Rangers will now move on to face the defending-champ Windsor Spitfires, whose own lineup features a couple of Leafs’ prospects: forwards Dale Mitchell and Kenny Ryan (pictured).
Prior to the lockout, undrafted college free agents were a rare, straight to NHL commodity. Either serving out their apprenticeships as minor league signees or plying their trade overseas, few players transitioned directly from the ranks of college hockey to the NHL without enduring prolonged development curves. However, in a post-lockout landscape where GMâ€™s clutch their most valued assets and superstars to their clubs with dynasty length deals, and where dollars and ice time are apportioned in equilibrium, graduate aged (or younger) players progressing from the NCAA as free agents are providing comparatively cheap labour in an increasingly scrutinized marketplace.
Not too surprisingly, considering both his hockey heritage as a former captain of the Providence College Friars and his somewhat condensed timetable for rebuilding the Leafs, Brian Burke has been one of the first to plunder the verdant college market in recent seasons, in turn providing a quantum shift from the conventional dominance of the CHL at the junior level.
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