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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.
McKegg will be one to watch tonight
The Leafs face the Flyers tonight in London in what will surely be a physical endeavor. Paul Hendrick over at MapleLeafs.com has the lines for tonight’s game:
Bring On Training Camp!
The Toronto Maple Leafs held their on-ice portion of training camp today. Players have been split into three squads to accommodate the 63 players invited to camp.
Among the contingent of fans outside the ice surface at the MasterCard Centre for Hockey Excellence was a throng of media and of course, Leafs staff.
For the first time in years, the Marlies will be bristling with young talent hoping to make the big club. From top prospect Nazem Kadri to hopeful enforcer Richard Greenop, this Marlies squad should be a team to watch. Letâ€™s take a look at the forward prospects that can be reasonably expected to be on this Marlies team:
Leafs prospect, Mikhail Stefanovich was quoted in an interview on the internet site of Belarussian newspaper, ‘Sports Panorma’ about his relationship with Patrick Roy, the Canadian lifestyle contrast and commentary on the people of Quebec City … the article also mentions his favorite NHL team, which isn’t the Maple Leafs.
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.
While the Maple Leafs struggled through a horrific 3-10-2 record to start the new year at the NHL level, many of the organization’s top young prospects enjoyed a very productive month of January on the scoresheet. Jerry D’Amigo (left) continued to build off a strong World Junior tournament, Mikhail Stefanovich seemed to finally turn the corner, while Nazem Kadri took his game up to that dominant level we all know he’s capable of.
- The Toronto Marlies took a thrilling 5-4 shootout decision against the Chicago Wolves, with each of the College Frat Pack making an impact. Tyler Bozak recorded a goal and an assist, Stalberg scored once, while Hanson chipped in an assist. Defenseman Juraj Mikus added an assist and tallied the shootout winner.
- Nazem Kadri continued his chippy play so far this season, receiving an abuse of the official misconduct in addition to a pair of assists in a 5-4 victory over his former club, the Kitchener Rangers. Elsewhere around the OHL, Jesse Blacker recorded a powerplay assist. Over in the QMJHL, Philliipe Paradis and Joel Champagne were both held off the scoresheet, while Mikhail Stefanovich managed an assist. There were rumors of a possible trade involving Stefanovich going to another junior team earlier today, but it doesn’t seem to have been the case.
- Lastly, I’ve got a pair of Greens to Saturday night’s game (tomorrow) against Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals that I’m looking to move at cost. Drop me an email if interested.
The big club’s off until a Friday night date with the struggling Hurricanes, so let’s take this opportunity to review the progress of several Maple Leafs’ prospects across various levels and highlight upon the season’s surprises and disappointments thus far. The verdict: fairly encouraging results early on across the board.
With very little good happening at the NHL level, it’s time to see how the kids are doing elsewhere. The Marlies dropped a 5-3 decision this afternoon against Rockford, falling to 2-1 on the young season. Jiri Tlusty scored a pair of goals, bringing his totals up to 3 goals and 4 points in 3 games played.
Time to shake off the lingering effects of a rough Saturday night, by taking a peek at some of the stories headlining today’s Leaf news. A peek at Wilson’s coaching cheatsheet, a case for the Monster to start on Tuesday night, random notes from the games, and some quick prospect updates for Kadri, Blacker and Stefanovich.
An interesting question was brought up by Dave Hodge yesterday morning on TSN’s The Reporters amid the Phil Kessel whirlwind that erupted over the weekend: if Peter Chiarelli wasn’t interested in matching an offer sheet at the dollar figure to which Burke eventually signed the 21-year-old, described by Sports Illustrated’s Michael Farber as “a one in 500 chance,” why didn’t Burke submit the offer sheet and pay but a third rounder instead of an additional first round draft selection? Farber seemed convinced not only that Chiarelli wouldn’t match but that Burke’s decision to go the trade route instead of offer sheet avenue was to save face, anticipating the charges of hypocrisy he would encounter linking back to his response to Kevin Lowe’s offer sheet submission for Dustin Penner that ultimately went unmatched while in Anaheim.
The Maple Leafs began on-ice workouts today at their new practice facility, the Mastercard Centre for Hockey Excellence.
Iâ€™ve been given credentials and was on site for the first day and will be attending all three days of on ice practice.
The following are a series of notes from Day 1 â€¦
The Toronto Maple Leafs’ rookies, in a very entertaining game this afternoon, lost 6-5 in overtime to the rookies of the Boston Bruins.
The game was fast-paced, hard-hitting, and featured three fights on three consecutive plays (literally within seconds of the faceoff each time). Â Â The good news? Â Jamie Devane looks like a legitimate enforcer and a presence to be feared. Â The bad news? Â His right hand didn’t look so good after the fight (had the icebag brought to him in the penalty box) and he wound up leaving the game shortly thereafter with the hand bandaged up. Â Â No word yet on how serious an injury it is.
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:
Aside from the occasional hardcore junior hockey followers, the majority of NHL fans will track the progress of their team’s top young prospects through highlight clips or boxscores. For the most part, the development and potential NHL impact of a young player then becomes a function of the amount of goals and assists they record at that level. I mean heck, it’s hard for Islanders fans to look at the 356 points that John Tavares has scored over the past 3 seasons in the OHL without getting excited. And rightfully so. All indications are that he’s going to be a very special player for a long, long time.
On the flip side, you’ve also got the purists who value a keen scouting eye to judge traits such as leadership ability, instincts, emotional drive, among other skills that cannot be represented numerically. Back in March, when news spread of Tavares breaking the all-time OHL goal scoring record held by Peter Lee, the first reaction by many was “Who the heck is Peter Lee?” Just some guy who scored 81 goals and 161 points in his last junior season is all… Well, point taken. Stats and numbers don’t mean everything, but the question is: how much DO they mean?
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.
Not a whole lot of news coming out of the NHL ranks these last few days, as the few free agents still available are playing the waiting game (kind of surprising to note that Alex Tanguay’s still out there). As we try to make it through the last work day before the weekend, let’s touch upon more trade speculation out of Chicago, Leaf prospect Mikhail Stefanovich, early playoff predictions and the Leafs’ second annual Coca Cola Fans First Game.
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.
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