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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.
For as long as I have been reading the comments section of this site, Iâ€™ve been overwhelmed by the sheer volume of posts that discuss the Leafs need to obtain a 2nd round pick through a trade.Â While the tenability of some trades, â€œBobby Ryan, Jesus Christ (who historically has done his best work on the boards) and a 2nd pick for Tomas Kaberle, Howard Berger, and a 7thâ€ may be questioned, there is certain validity behind the desire.Â Indeed, the Leafs have had some success in the second round (Stajan and Kulemin have both become solid players, and the Leafs have three 2nd round picks in the past two drafts as promising prospects).
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.
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.
Remember Jimmy Hayes?Â He was the Leafs 2nd round pick in 2008, a burgeoning power forward who struggled last season in his freshman campaign with the Boston College Eagles as he adjusted to the NCAA game.
Consider those struggles a thing of the past.
Hayes was fantastic in the Hockey East Championship this past week as his team captured their ninth tournament victory, an NCAA record.Â Oh, and you may be interested to know that his 2 goals and 5 assists (in 4 games) led all tournament point-getters.
Johnny Misley is the Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations for Hockey Canada, and plays a key role in enhancing hockey in Canada across various levels: from the grassroots programmes all the way up to the National teams. It was very kind of Johnny to take a few minutes to discuss the programmeâ€™s aspirations in the upcoming World Junior Championship in Regina as well as the Menâ€™s Olympic hockey tournament in Vancouver.
Leafs prospect Nazem Kadri has successfully passed the first hurdle en route to a possible World Juniors roster spot, by earning an invite to the final selection camp earlier today. The roster currently encompasses 36 invitees in total, a number which Team Canada Head Coach Willie Desjardins will have to narrow down to 22 by the end of camp.
It appears that the players on the on the Maple Leafs’ NHL roster aren’t the only ones in the organization stirring up news. Both of the Leafs’ 2nd round selections from the 2009 NHL Entry Draft this past June, winger Kenny Ryan and defenseman Jesse Blacker are reportedly on the move, ironically in different directions out of the revolving door that is the Windsor Spitfires.
Yesterday’s trade with Calgary sparked a lot of immediate negativity amongst many of our readers at the loss of Stralman. Today we try to view it from another perspective as we clarify an important CBA related issue that may have been a key motivation for the departure the young defenseman. In other news: Burke speaks to Foxsports about prospective changes to the CBA, Leaf prospect Kenny Ryan is being recruited by the Memorial Cup champs and Vaclav Prospal bought out by the Lightning.
Last week, the Toronto Maple Leafs held their prospect development camp to gauge the progress and future outlook of both prospects within the organization, and unsigned players on the team’s radar.
The camp, which ran from July 5th to July 10th, featured six full days of on-ice practice activities and off-ice seminars ranging from nutrition to lifestyle to the business of the NHL.Â Â It provided an opportunity for the players to get to know their possible future teammates, as well as the chance showcase their abilities to the team’s player development personnel.
The Toronto Maple Leafs’ first draft under the watchul eye of Brian Burke displayed a stark change in the team’s draft philosophy. The scouting staff searched for the type of players and attributes that would be able to fit into the mold of a tough, physical checking style of game that the Leafs hope to play several years down the road. As a result, we saw a lot more emphasis placed on size and toughness than skill and speed. Not surprisingly, all of Toronto’s seven selections were from the North American ranks, four of them from the Ontario Hockey League and three from American hockey programs.
Even in the days of modern technology, many still profess that meteorology is an inexact science more guess work than theory. The very same can be said when scouting goaltenders. For every Mark-Andre Fleury (selected 1st overall in 2003) thereâ€™s a Brent Krahn (selected 9th overall in 2000). Meanwhile recent Vezina nominees and winners such as Tim Thomas, Mikka Kiprusoff and Evgeni Nabokov had to wait until the 217th, 116th and 219th selections respectively to see their names on the board. Indeed, the vast majority of netminders who started a game last season in the NHL had long waits deep into the second day to see their dreams realized while others went completely unnoticed only to resurface as free agents years later.
Rewind a year to Ottawa, when interim GM Cliff Fletcher was preparing to make his last great splash. Trading up to secure hard hitting blueliner Luke Schenn, a player unto which the Leafs hoped to bank their revival, set in motion a summer of upheaval paving the way for Brian Burke to step in mid-season. For many the draft of 2008 marked an era of realization, that change was required and perhaps finally the Leafs were going to commit to a full scale rebuild based on the youth model in Pittsburgh.
Hockey’s Future, the renowned hockey prospects website, announced their Spring Organizational Rankings today and the Toronto Maple Leafs found themselves in the bottom tier of the league at #23. The ranking is based on an assessment of a team’s farm system, which takes into account the amount of star power and depth that is likely to be produced. For a team in “rebuilding” mode, that’s not a flattering number to see.
JIMMY HAYES (# 10) â€“ RW
Birthdate: November 21, 1989
Hometown: Dorchester, Massachusetts
Size: 6-5, 210 lbs (team listing)
Toronto Maple Leafsâ€™ prospect, Chris Didomenico (or Dido for short) is set to make his World Junior Hockey Championship debut this Friday as the team prepares for its first pre-tournament exhibition match against Team Sweden.
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#9 – RW Jimmy Hayes, 18, Boston College (NCAA)
Drafted: 2nd round, 60th overall in 2008
Strengths: Superb size and strength (6’5 210 lbs). Good skater for a player his size. High end offensive talent with quick hands around the net. Can be a very intimidating presence along the boards and in front of the net. Tons and tons and tons of potential.
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Tons of hype and mostly disappointing results.
On the surface, it would seem like Boston product Jimmy Hayes and the Toronto Maple Leafs were a match made in heaven.