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I won’t go into a lot of detail about the game itself, as Alec covered that quite well.
The news, for the most part, was good.Â Â Many of the Leafs’ prospects were impressive in their bids to earn a spot on the big club and/or the Marlies.Â Â The following is a quick summation of some of the things that stood out to me from my vantage point at the game.
Notable Leaf participants in the tournament running from September 6th-7th at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium will include Tyler Bozak, Viktor Stalberg, Mikhail Stefanovich, Nazem Kadri, Dale Mitchell, Jonas Gustavsson and Jesse Blacker. Of the Leafs 2009 draft class, Jamie Devane and Barron Smith are also a part of the squad to be overseen by new Marlies head coach Dallas Eakins and his staff. Having attended the last three rookie tourneys, this Leafs’ roster is by far their most exciting entry yet. Check out the roster list after the jump courtesy of MapleLeafs.com:
As a reminder/lesson as to what the prospect grades indicate: the number represents a player’s traditional realistic potential ability on a scale of 1-10 with ten being “generational talent” and one being “borderline minor league player.” The letter (A-F) represents the prospect’s realistic chances of achieving their number-rated potential, with A being “all but guaranteed to reach potential” and F being “possess very little potential.” In the Leafs’ ranks, Nazem Kadri tops out the rankings (with Schenn now considered graduated) as an 8.0C, meaning he’s a “first line forward” that “may reach potential, but could drop two ratings.” Jonas Gustavsson is ranked second in the Leaf ranks as a 7.5B, meaning he’s half way between a “journeyman No. 1 goaltender” and flat out “No. 1 goaltender,” with the realistic probability of reaching his traditional potential “likely” with the possibility of dropping one rating. Ranked third is Mikhail Stefanovich at 7.5C, which essentially means he’s somewhere in between first and second line potential, with the possibility that he could drop as far as two ratings.
A variety of discussion points to kick off the weekend including the imminent departure of Justin Pogge and the Marlies goaltending situation going into next season. Is it finally James Reimer’s time to shine? Also, a quick look at the latest flurry of moves made by the Boston Bruins, and how that may affect a potential Leaf trade for the still unsigned Phil Kessel.
The Leafs (former?) goalie of the future is officially back for another year with the club.Â With the signing of Jonas Gustavsson, media and fans alike decreed Pogge’s chance to charge in and become the Leafs saviour had all but run out.Â Of course, it’s far too early to completely give up on a tender with Justin’s potential, and Brian Burke earlier stated his intentions to qualify the 23 year old without any hesitation.
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.
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.
Let’s take a break from the rumour mill, and have a look at where the Toronto Maple Leafs roster currently stands.
With the draft a little over a month away, and free agency beginning shortly thereafter, it’s time to take a look at the current Maple Leafs’ roster, who is and is not under contract for next season, and the resultant depth at each position.
Ron Wilson will stick with the struggling Vesa Toskala as his slumping Maple Leafs, fresh off two consecutive losses by a collective score of 12-3, look to get off the schneid against Alex Ovechkin’s red-hot Washington Capitals.
The Leafs goaltending issues at the NHL level have opened the door for some of their young goaltending prospects to strut their stuff and show everyone what they can do.
With Toskala resting a “sore groin” (that’s probably code for .881 save percentage) and Joseph looking like he should have retired, we saw the much talked about Justin Pogge get his first NHL win on Monday night against Atlanta.
From Micheal Aldred…
The Toronto Maple Leafs will be watching Luke Schenn with intensity tonight as the rookie is ready to show the world what he can do against arguably the best in the world in Evgeni Malkin. Not far behind him will goalie Justin Pogge be looking to do the same thing. Tonight, however, there will be a stronger cast on the ice for the buds.
>>>DISCUSS IN THE FORUMS
Every professional hockey organization, particularly one in the Leafs’ current plight, must exhaust every possible avenue when it comes to importing young talent into their system.
In addition to the chance to evaluate the progress of your developing prospects front-and-centre, the upcoming rookie tournament provides a valuable opportunity to invite undrafted youngsters for a 3 game trial run. Last year this event proved fruitful for the Maple Leafs, who uncovered a hidden gem by the name of Darryl Boyce. The Summerside native was already preparing for life-after-hockey at the University of New Brunswick when, after a fantastic championship-winning campaign with U of NB he was signed to a minor-league contract and invited by John Ferguson Jr. to play in the 2007 rookie tournament in Kitchener.
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