The Maple Leafs have drafted 5’11, 169-pound winger Martins Dzierkals with their 68th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.
Dzierkals, a Latvian native, plays in the Russian junior league, where he posted 28 points in 32 games. He put up nine points in six games for Team Latvia at the WJC u18s.
Probably the biggest mystery box of all the Leafs picks, but it’s another skill and production-inclined selection here. He is expected to play the 2015-16 season in the QMJHL after being selected 22nd overall by Rouyn-Noranda in the CHL Import Draft.
Mark Hunter’s Take
“High compete, good skills. Needs, of course, to get stronger. We hope he can be one of those sleepers in the draft that we believe people have not seen as much. We believe there’s some real good upside with this young man.”
Kyle Dubas’ Take
“We saw him at the u18 tournament. Statistically, you see him there, and he was outstanding in the games that I personally saw. He’s a guy that Thommie Bergman and Garth Malarchuk both really liked a lot on our scouting staff. We all went and watched him in the relegation games and he was really, really good; got video on him. He’s a very fast, skilled player. His family is very big, so it looks like a guy that’s going to grow a little bit, get a lot stronger. Statistically, in Latvia – and it’s not a traditional market to be taking a lot of guys from, they’re developing more and more players – but his production level in the junior league there was off the charts. It just kind of all added together. We knew there were a lot of other teams circling, we had to pick him there. We got those extra picks by moving down and picked him up.
I know Rouyn-Noranda drafted him last week, and we haven’t had a lot of discussion – we’ll have more here – I think it looks like he’s going to play there. For us, with Scott Pellerin being in Boston, it’s easy to get up into the Montreal area, up to see him in Rouyn. It will be a great experience for him. It’s going to be interesting to see how he comes through the summer. He’s got a lot of work to do in terms of strength, but all these guys do – they’re 18 years old. It’s up to us to arm them with the right information to develop that way.”
Martins Dzierkals Scouting Report
Arguably the most undeservedly overlooked player available for this draft, Dzierkals is totally under the radar but still has real potential. He’s small and skinny, but has more than enough offensive tools to produce points. Was excellent for Latvia at the U18s, with nine points in six games, and also had a very strong season in Russia’s top junior league, the MHL. Has already played a lot internationally, and being from a smaller hockey nation like Latvia means that he has a very good chance of playing in more international tournaments in the future.
– Future Considerations