At this time last year, Jerry D’Amigo was a little known Maple Leafs‘ draftee who had been passed over 157 times by other clubs only a few months before. After a banner year at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the NCAA and a brilliant run at the World Juniors, the not even 20 year old D’Amigo currently finds himself with an NHL contract, an invite to training camp, and a legitimate shot at making his dreams come true as soon as this fall. That was last year. Now let’s take a look at some of the names that could be making some serious headway up the Leafs’ organizational depth charts in 2010-2011.
2010-2011 NCAA Breakout Candidate: Matt Frattin
Boy, did Matt Frattin have a brutal start to last season: arrested during the summer and subsequently dismissed from the University of North Dakota’s hockey program. That would’ve been quite a shame because the Leafs’ 2007 4th round draftee has always been described as a player with some intriguing offensive ability who brings a distinct mean streak to his game. Eventually, Frattin was found not guilty of DUI and was reinstated back into the lineup where something just clicked with the young man. Maybe it was the long needed wake up call, but whatever it was, it worked. He finished the season with a strong 19 points in 24 games played, including a beastly playoff run. Courtesy of Pension Plan Puppets, here are some quotes from UND’s Hockey blog:
“Matt Frattin is playing like a man possessed. He has nine goals in his last 10 games and is showing off all of his tools: He’s extremely fast, he’s very physical and he has a very heavy shot. Someday, he’ll probably play in the NHL.”
And another one:
“Matt Frattin was the best forward on the ice for the Fighting Sioux this past weekend, he scored four goals this weekend and the kid played like a beast, in my opinion Frattin is a prototypical power forward.”
Frattin will return to North Dakota for one more year and will hope to build on his tremendous run down the stretch last season. When he’s on his game, Matt is a multi-talented player who can give you some of this while chipping in some of this as well. He’s flying way under the radar right now, but don’t be surprised if he’s one of the names generating a ton of prospect buzz next season.
2010-2011 European Breakout Candidate: Sondre Olden
Was it really even possible to consider any other name here? This is the kid whom was heavily scouted by the Red Wings’ Swedish Super Scout Hakkan Andersson (Hello Zetterberg and Franzen!) prior to the 2010 NHL Draft, and one whom intrigued the Leafs’ scouts so much that they traded into the 3rd round (leapfrogging Detroit in the process) to take him. Can you blame them? Even based on a very tiny sample size from the Leafs’ rookie tournament, where he was 3-4 years younger (he just barely turned 18) than most of the other players, Olden flashed significant potential in the speed, size, creativity and skill departments. He’s done a heckuva representing his home nation of Norway internationally so far with a ridiculous 22 points in 5 games at the WJC-18 D1 en route to a gold medalÂ and thenÂ another one at the WJC-20 D1.
He’s currently expected to begin the season with the Modo junior team, but could make the jump full-time to the SEL sometime later this year. His skills will be on full display at this year’s WJC-20 in Buffalo, so it’s quite possible the Olden bandwagon will be getting a lot more crowded come January. It might be prudent to hop on board now while there’s still room because this 18 year old looks to have the full arsenal of offensive skills and projectability, though he does need to add more weight to his 172 lb frame.
2010-2011 CHL Breakout Candidate: Sam Carrick
Yeah, it probably would’ve been pretty easy to go with McKegg or Ross here, but why make it easy right? Carrick’s already got some support from our boy Kats, who took him ahead of Sondre Olden and Kenny Ryan in our head-to-head “Young Guns Draft” of the Maple Leafs organizational young talent. Sam’s always been a fan favourite in Brampton because of his tremendous work ethic, well-rounded two-way game, high intensity style of play, and ability to step his game up to another level when his team needs him the most. In regards to the scoresheet, Carrick did manage to finish second with a respectable 42 points in 66 games played for a ridiculously terrible Battalion offense.
When I spoke to Maple Leafs’ Head of Amateur Scouting Dave Morrisonn for the Maple Leafs Annual over the summer, this is a player whom he felt could make significant strides next season because of increased ice-time and offensive responsibility. Morrisonn mentioned how Carrick has benefited greatly from being under the wing of WJC star Cody Hodgson, and is a player whose excellent character allows him to contribute more than the sum of his tools. Carrick will be leaned on to be an important cog for the Brampton Battalion this coming season and here’s hoping he responds to the challenge.
Who are YOUR breakout candidates for the 2010-2011 campaign?