Tonight’s lineup of Leafs rookies will feature two youngsters I expect you’ll see at some point during the Maple Leafs’ 2011-12 season in Matt Frattin and Jake Gardiner. It’s important not to read too deep into this tournament but most will be expecting these two to look ahead of the rest (Frattin in particular as a 23-year-old who has completed his NCAA tenure). For the others, the rookie tournament is a chance to show Leafs brass they’ve taken steps forward in their development after an off-season of hard work.
The Leafs’ lineup that will square off with the Blackhawks’ rookies tonight features four 2011 draft picks in David Broll, the only member of the 2011 draft class to sign an ELC with the big club thus far, Josh Leivo, and first round selection Stuart Percy. Garret Sparks will play the back half of the tilt in net after off-season signing out of Djurgarden Mark Owuya looks to introduce himself to fans as more than just a rap artist.
Perhaps the Leaf youngster with the most at stake in this tournament is Mitchell Heard. After a pleasantly surprising rookie camp in early July including a couple of goals, the 19-year-old Heard was signed to an Amateur Tryout Contract in order to participate in training camp. The late-blooming Plymouth Whaler was undrafted at both the OHL and NHL levels, but after adding some size the self-described two-way center has made himself a part of the conversation.
As for the Blackhawks’ rookies, ex-Leafs Chris Didomenico, Jimmy Hayes and Philippe Paradis are on the roster, so expect the season to start off right with each scoring at least once. 2011 picks Mark McNeil and Brandon Saad are both on the Hawks’ roster as well.
Your expected lineup for tonight courtesy of mapleleafs.com:
EXPECTED LEAFS LINEUP
STARTING IN GOAL: Mark Owuya
McKegg – Crescenzi – Nicholls
Broll – Heard – Frattin
Ross – Ryan – Devane
Olden – Carrick – Leivo
Clarke – Gardiner
Stanisz – Blacker
Urban – Percy
Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at GM Centre in Oshawa. The game will be televised live on Rogers TV and can be streamed onÂ MapleLeafs.com on a 30 minute delay.