Saturday, May 23, 2015
Leafs Prospects

Leafs Prospects

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The CHL's regular season is over, the Marlies have nine games left with their playoff lives uncertain, and the putrid cesspool of a Leafs season that we've been forced to endure is four games from its conclusion. By June, we'll have added at least one more blue chipper and if we trade Kessel, maybe more.  For the time being, all we can do is wait and take stock. Let's start our tour with a look at Connor Brown.  At less than 6-feet tall and with no real skills that jump off the ice at you, it was unclear whether or not...

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The Oilers winning two in a row has them gaining ground fast on a Leafs team that's barely gained a point in three months. Once thought an impossible feat (getting within shouting distance of the Oilers and Coyotes), Edmonton is now just three points back with seven games remaining. Catching 2nd-last Arizona, who trail by 6 points, is pretty unlikely unless the Leafs lose out and Arizona finishes "strong" (.500ish). But hey, never count this Leafs team out!     The Marlies play this afternoon at 3 p.m. in a game with serious playoff implications, as their opponent in Hamilton currently holds the 8th-seed and is...

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While he may not have entered Toronto in a fire-dress whilst riding a mechanical tiger, William Nylander is, nonetheless, turning a lot of heads. Nylander has a pair of points in his first four AHL games and has been getting a lot of good press.  The concern with Nylander was how he would adjust to the North American game, playing on small ice as a smaller, skilled forward.  His first goal, surprisingly, was scored with Nylander going hard to the net to chase down a rebound, lifting the defenseman's stick as he blew past him for the backhanded goal. Nylander has...

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Introducing the MLHS Maple Leafs top 30 prospect rankings, complete with player-by-player scouting reports. These rankings are based on a combination of the overall talent package for each player, plus the likelihood of them reaching their peak potential. Of course, it is difficult to quantify these traits into hard numbers, however after spending countless hours scouting each player, the chips start to fall into place as far as which players are rising to the top and which ones are slipping down the Leafs' prospect depth chart. This list is intended to be a stamp in time, and no ranking list...

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The thing about prospect talk is that it's generally most interesting when your team is playing its worst hockey. We don't talk about prospects because we love the Moose Jaw Warriors, or the Sudbury Wolves, or the Erie Otters -- we talk about prospects because we love the Leafs but the Leafs are a bad hockey team.  Well, the Maple Leafs have won two games in two nights so if we're going to talk prospects, it had better be something groundbreaking, right? How's this:  William Nylander is on pace to do something that neither Peter Forsberg, nor Mats Sundin, nor either...

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Hockey's back! Technically, it was back in my mind with the rookie tournament, but since I basically took the pre-season off because the pre-season is brutal, hockey is back again! The Toronto Maple Leafs are off to a lacklustre start and, to be honest, probably have a better record than they deserve through the first week and a half.  A dominating performance against the Avalanche notwithstanding, this team looks out of sorts.  If the reader wants me to say something positive at this point, here it is: Stuart Percy. Percy has been a freckle of light in the cool, damp abyss that...

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An energetic second contest for the Maple Leafs saw a lot of players on the 2014 Rookie Camp roster take a step beyond Saturday’s initial impression – even despite the notable names (Nylander, Leivo) not playing. The group came out hungry, played hard, and displayed a consistent all-around “team game” that was encouraging to see from a squad of individuals largely thrown together for the purposes of individual evaluation. A night that should definitely have some positives taken away from it – despite the outcome. The Leafs were strong out of the gate tonight, with energy and physicality pouring over the...

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For the diehard supporters of this team, this weekend always represents the earnest beginnings of the new Leaf season -- the annual prospects showcase known as the Rookie Tournament. Maple Leafs 2013 and 2014 first round picks William Nylander and Frederik Gauthier will be skating on the top two lines tonight. According to coach Gord Dineen, this may be Nylander's only game of the tournament; a little teaser for what's to come before saving him for the big camp. It's the first real peak at Nylander in a Leaf jersey in competitive action if we don't count the intrasquad scrimmaging at...

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Toronto Maple Leafs Prospect Camp Game in 6.

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With their final pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, the Maple Leafs have selected big winger Pierre Engvall out of Frolunda in the SuperElit league. All in all, the Maple Leafs have selected two Swedes, three Americans and a Russian in their six picks in the 2014 Entry Draft. It's the first instance we can find of the Leafs not drafting a single Canadian in an entry draft (although William Nylander was born in Canada, he moved to Sweden at 14 and competes for Sweden internationally). This pick follows the pattern of the Leafs turning over their 7th rounder...

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The Maple Leafs have selected left winger Nolan Vesey from the South Shore Kings of the USPHL with their 158th overall draft selection. It is the Leafs' third consecutive pick of a player committed to playing American collegiate hockey next season. The 6'1, 198-pound Massachusetts native, whose father Jim Vesey had a cup of coffee in the NHL with the St. Louis Blues, will play for Maine next season. Nolan's brother Jimmy was drafted in the third round by the Nashville Predators two years ago (more on his hockey family here). A March '95 birthdate, Vesey was passed over in...

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The Maple Leafs have drafted centerman Dakota Joshua of Sioux Falls (USHL) with their 128th overall selection.  A second consecutive American college kid selected after picking John Piccinich 103rd overall. Joshua stands 6'2, 185-pounds and could play for Ohio State next season but may opt to stay another year in the USHL to further develop his offensive game before moving onto college hockey. The #Leafs take a player I like a lot. Dakota Joshua. We had him ranked 76th overall - size, smarts and skill. Possible steal at this pick — Mark Edwards (@MarkEdwardsHP) June 28, 2014 Big centers with skill are always...

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The Maple Leafs have selected John Piccinich out of the USHL with their 103rd overall selection in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. Piccinich is a 6'0, 190-pound right winger from New Jersey who is committed to Boston University for next season. He was the 135th ranked skater according to the Central Scouting Service's final rankings. Boston University head coach David Quinn on Piccinich: "Makes great plays in the offensive zone... strong on his skates and gets to the dirty areas... game translates well to college hockey... another guy who people will enjoy away from the rink." Dave Morrison on John Piccinich: "He's a real...

Rinat Valiev

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With their 68th overall selection in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, the Maple Leafs have drafted Rinat Valiev of the Kootenay Ice in the Western Hockey League. Valiev is a 6'1, 190-pound left-shot defenceman who was passed over in last year's draft. He turned 19 in May. Valiev was ranked as the 141st North American skater by Central Scouting last June but the Russian factor and a knee injury appeared to push him out of the draft picture altogether. He was invited to the Dallas Stars rookie camp last September. Valiev's described as a two-way defenceman with good mobility and hockey...

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"Nylander might be the most skilled player in the draft." The Toronto Maple Leafs have selected Modo forward William  Nylander with their eighth overall selection in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. The Maple Leafs have leaned on the expertise of Swedish scout Thommie Bergman in the selection of this high-upside forward. It should dispel any notion of the Leafs shying away from skilled upside in favour of size and safe projectability. The 5'11.5, 183-pound William Nylander owns tantalizing offensive upside, earning the label as perhaps "the most skilled dynamic forward" in the draft class according to Brendan Ross. William Nylander cemented...

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With the dust settled, this was a good season for Leafs youngsters. This year's Memorial Cup had a little added intrigue as we saw Leafs prospects skating on three of the four teams involved in the tourney (Finn-Guelph, Bibeau-Val D'Or, Rupert-London). Matt Finn's Guelph Storm were the best team in the OHL and probably the best team in the Memorial Cup, too, final notwithstanding.  Finn himself was second in OHL scoring among defensemen and acquitted himself well throughout both the OHL playoff and the Memorial Cup.  Personally, I expected a bit more from Finn than what I saw this season.  It's tough to...

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More good Leafs-related news out of the Memorial Cup tournament last night as 2013 sixth round pick Antoine Bibeau's resounding 47 saves on 50 shots guided his Val-d'Or Foreurs to the semifinals after a 4-3 OT win over the Edmonton Oil Kings. Among the 47 turned aside by Bibeau was a penalty shot in the first period. Traded to Val-d'Or from Charlottetown midseason, Bibeau went 16-4-4 in the playoffs with a .913 save percentage en route to a QMJHL championship and individual MVP honours. Passed over in the 2012 draft, Bibeau is the hottest goalie in junior hockey at the...

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Frederik Gauthier will join the Toronto Marlies for the playoff run on an ATO, meaning he'll use the facilities and work with the Marlies development staff, as the Leafs like to do at year's end with their eligible prospects. With centers Peter Holland, Trevor Smith, Greg McKegg, Sam Carrick and Jerred Smithson on the roster, it seems unlikely he will be thrust into his first AHL action during playoff time. After 52 points in 54 games in the regular season, Gauthier added 3 goals and 9 points in 11 games in the playoffs. Nothing to shake a stick at, and...

Rupert Ryan

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(NHL.com) On Thursday, The Toronto Maple Leafs signed London Knights forward Ryan Rupert to a three-year entry-level contract. Rupert, 19, had 73 points (21 goals, 52 assists), 54 penalty minutes and a plus-36 rating in 68 regular-season games for the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League. In 10 playoff games so far with London, Rupert has three goals, seven assists and 10 penalty minutes. Selected by the Maple Leafs in the sixth round (No. 157) of the 2012 NHL Draft, Rupert has 194 points (58 goals, 136 assists) and 279 penalty minutes in 224 games with the Knights over...

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With the first round of the OHL Playoffs over, Carter Verhaeghe's Niagara Ice Dogs have been eliminated.  The draft+1 prospect finds himself with a shiny new pro contract and spending time in the AHL -- pretty nice consolation prize. Verhaeghe's first year as a Leaf prospect was a promising one as the youngster finished the year with 82 points in 65 games, placing him 21st among scorers in the OHL.  He still has some work to do on his skating but the instincts are there.  Here's hoping for a strong summer of training. Connor Brown is out to prove that the...