With World Junior selection camps getting under way this week, a handful of Leafs prospects will be leaving their CHL teams to join up with their national all-star teams. If you’d like a quick breakdown on the Leafs prospects who will be involved in the World Junior Championships, here’s a short post I put together over at Pension Plan Puppets. This natural break in the schedule seems like as good a time as any to check in with where our kids are sitting among their peers at this stage of the season.
The Leafs have two prospects who I would consider “power forwards” and both have put up a point-per-game or better to start their seasons.
Tyler Biggs has 32 points in 32 games in Oshawa while playing against his opponents’ top line on a nightly basis. After a bit of a lacklustre start to his OHL career, Biggs has made some real improvements to his game and the results reflect this. Biggs extended his point streak to 6 games on Saturday only to have it snapped on Sunday, but it’s only a matter of time before he starts his next streak with the way he’s been stirring things up in front of the opposition goal.
Josh Leivo has turned out to be a great 3rd round pick. He’s the boom-or-bust kind of prospect you love to see your organisation take a shot at in this slot and he’s been playing some really strong hockey this season. Leivo had put up 27 points in 26 games prior to suffering a concussion on November 24th and has been out of Sudbury’s lineup since. The Wolves expect to have him back soon though and called this week’s scratch more of a precaution than anything.
Despite a tough week for the Erie Otters, Connor Brown finds himself 17th in OHL scoring with 38 points in 32 games. This is Brown’s draft+1 year and he’s doing it on a pretty abysmal Erie team. My inclination so far is to think that Brown is likely just a junior star rather than a potential impact prospect but the numbers he’s posting certainly bear mentioning.
Matt Finn is back in action after the flu kept him out of the Storm lineup for a couple of weeks. Finn took a little time to get back to form but picked up 3 points (1G, 2A) in 2 games this weekend. Finn currently sits 15th in defenseman scoring in the OHL despite missing this time and is ahead of such high profile names as Olli Maatta, Ryan Murphy, and Slater Koekkoek in points-per-game.
Blue Chipper Morgan Rielly currently sits 3rd in WHL scoring among defensemen on a Moose Jaw team that is second last in the WHL in goals per game. The Warriors’ place in the standings is a complete mirage and despite shipping out one of their better defensemen this week in Joel Edmundson, Moose Jaw has stated that they will not trade Rielly. It’s tough to say that Rielly really has much more to learn by being the best player on a pretty abysmal team. He’s a +player on a team with a -18 goal differential, has a point on better than 33% of his team’s goals, and has only 5 penalty minutes on the season. Believe the hype.
Last but not least, Garret Sparks has put together a very respectable start to his season. Sparks is currently 6th in the OHL with a .920 save percentage and after a bit of a rocky start has really rounded into form nicely of late. Sparks is one of three goalies invited to the US National Team’s selection camp and if John Gibson’s hip injury keeps him out of the American net, Sparks has a very real chance of grabbing the starter’s role. In the games that I’ve seen, Sparks has been inconsistent — occasionally stealing a game and at other times looking out of synch. He has certainly been more of the former than the latter of late though and this weekend he ruined Erie’s teddy bear toss. Goaltending is alchemy to me so I wont try to project Sparks at all but suffice to say, he has a shot.
If you’re looking to chat prospects during the World Juniors, be sure to hit me up on Twitter here.[table “63” not found /]
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