Toronto Maple Leafs Director of player personnel Mark Hunter joined Leafs Lunch to discuss the recent signings of Casey Bailey and Nikita Soshnikov, the depth of talent in the organization, and the upcoming draft.
We got a lead from Evgeny Namestnikov, who we hired as a scout for us over in Russia. He said come over to watch this young man who he liked a lot, who he coached. He’s a kid that plays a hard-nosed, two way game, he’s got some good skills, but lots of effort. It’s a big part of game, effort.
He’s going to get an opportunity right away here to play some games. It will be good to see how he does. He’s a big guy, 6’3, real quick shot. He can really shoot a one timer. I think he averaged between 5 and 6 shots a game at Penn State. He’s got to make sure he keeps his pace up, so I think he knows he needs to work on that. He’s a young man who it will be interesting to see how he adapts. I like him because of his size and he’s got a really good stick. We’ll see how he adapts to the NHL.
Assessing the young talent in the org:
We’ve got some good young talent, I just think we just need to get more. We got to get more depth. We’ve got a young guy like Nylander, who is learning how to play a North American style of hockey. I mean, it’s a smaller rink and it’s a good place to learn without the media pressure of Toronto. I think it’s a matter of time for him to get his game going and be ready to play at the next level at some time. With him, and the Gauthier boy with Rimouski who is playing really well and the team is in first place, we’ve got some prospects but we have to get more and we have to make it more competitive in the organization for spots on the Leafs and spots on the Marlies.
Depth of 2015 draft:
I like the draft, I think the draft has some real good players. We see a kid like Strome get 6 points yesterday in one game in a big game to win the scoring championship away from Mitch Marner. I have to say I was rooting for Mitch, I mean I was at the game and it was very impressive what he did yesterday He did it every different way. You see players like him playing, it’s going to be a good draft. There’s going to be some good depth and in the first round I think everyone’s going to get a good player.
Any bias towards Marner:
We do what’s best for the organization. That’s the first thing. Whoever the best player is we will take. There’s other players, too – Lawson Crouse, Noah Hanifin, Pavel Zacha, Mathew Barzal .. Barzal’s been injured all year and he hasn’t got the accolades he should. I saw him last week and he’s very impressive also.