With their fifth-round draft pick in the 2023 NHL Draft, the Maple Leafs have selected 6’1, 174-pound left-shot centerman Hudson Malinoski of the Brooks Bandits in the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

The Leafs have drawn from the well of overagers in recent draft classes with reasonably good early returns: Sean Durzi, Pontus Holmberg, Nick Abruzzese, and Nikita Grebyonkin.  Malinoski follows suit as a 2004-born second-year draft eligible who was playing U18 midget hockey in Saskatchewan in his first year of NHL draft eligibility.

Part of the reason Malinoski is on a “late bloomer” timeline developmentally is due to a serious injury sustained back in 2017, Malinoski’s first year of bantam hockey. He suffered a terrifying injury that can be life-threatening when he took a fall building a snowboarding ramp on his roof with his buddies, leading to a torn vertebral artery in his neck (responsible for supplying blood to the brain). All told, he was out of hockey for over seven months.

Committed to Providence College of the NCAA for next season, the Saskatoon native won an AJHL championship and Centennial Cup as an AJHL rookie this past season, producing 69 points in 44 games (followed by just seven in 15 in the playoffs). Malinoski’s regular-season numbers ranked him in a tie for third overall in the AJHL in points per game (1.57) in 2022-23. He led all AJHL rookies in the points-per-game category.

Scouts describe Malinoski as possessing a decent frame (once developed), a strong shot, and intriguing playmaking skill/vision but significant work to do on his skating.

Malinoski is the third player the Leafs have selected out of the AJHL over their draft history. The first was their 2007 pick of forward Matt Frattin (who became a solid NHL producer for a few years before flaming out) and the second was their 2008 pick of defenseman Andrew MacWilliam (who appeared in 12 NHL games for the Leafs but mostly played in the AHL before heading to Europe).

Hudson Malinoski’s pre-draft rankings:

  • Ranked #231 by FCHOCKEY
  • Ranked #117 by DAILY FACEOFF
  • Ranked #162 by MCKEEN’S HOCKEY
  • Ranked #65 by NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING (NA Skaters)

Hudson Malinoski Scouting Report

courtesy of the 2023 Blackbook (BUY NOW)

Malinoski fits the template of the classic late-bloomer that we see every year. Passed over last year, this is his second year of draft eligibility. He was playing U18 hockey in the Saskatchewan midget league last season, which tells you a good portion of what you need to know. In his first AJHL season, he collected 69 points in 44 games and was also a solid contributor at the WJAC in December. He helped Brooks win the AJHL championship and Centennial Cup.

Possessing a great shot, he can score from distance, as witnessed frequently this season. One could often find him at the point or at the half-wall on the power play. With a quick release, his shot is heavy and has great velocity to it. He reads the play well to get open to receive passes, and due to the quality of his shot, he’s a threat to score from anywhere in the offensive zone.

Often using the toe-drag move to recalibrate his shot, Malinoski likes to change up his angles from time to time. He has a good projectable frame which should soon allow him to win inside leverage in the slot area when it fully matures. However, he still needs to get stronger on his skates in order to have a more effective inside game.

Using his good passing skills, he distributes pucks well on the power play, doing a good job using fake shots to open up passing lanes for himself. He also uses off-look moves efficiently to pass pucks to the other side of the ice on the man advantage.

Overall, he passes with authority. Malinoski has demonstrated significant creativity and the capacity to be an offensive dual-threat due to his crisp, accurate passing and the quality of his shot. Plus, his frame projects better to the pro level than that of his teammate, Fink.

On the other hand, Malinoski’s skating is very raw and weak at the moment. But when we look at how his game has progressed over the last few years, we see a possibility that it can improve. Currently, he’s more of a threat on the power play because he doesn’t have to use his skating to be effective in those situations. Things become more worrisome at even-strength and in transition where his lack of footspeed is more evident. There’s a clear lack of explosiveness to his stride, and when he’s not moving his feet, he looks even slower. His pace could be better (another element that he’ll need to improve at the college level). The degree of improvement he can bring to his skating will indicate whether or not he will have an NHL career.

Malinoski’s late-bloomer label is further illustrated by the fact that he was never drafted in the WHL Draft. Starting next season, he will suit up for Providence College in the NCAA, a great place to give him more time to improve his frame and skating skills while getting more reps in a good league. Still very raw, there is some potential here because of his frame, the quality of his shot, and his playmaking skills. He’s also very intriguing knowing he came out of nowhere this year only to end up having a monster AJHL debut. We often talk about prospects’ progression curve; Malinoski’s is very positive. His projection is very intriguing as a result, but it will take a while before we see the complete results.

Director of Amateur Scouting Wes Clark on Hudson Malinoski

Our area [scouts] there, Darren Ritchie and Garth Malarchuk, were really passionate about him and really happy to walk away with him. He is going to Providence. He has a good runway here. We like him.

Hudson Malinoski Video

Hudson Malinoski Statistics

Born: May 19, 2004
Position: C
Age: 19
Height: 6'1" / 185 cm
Place of Birth
Saskatoon, SK, CAN
Weight: 174 lbs / 79 kg
Nation: Canada
Shoots: Left
S Team League GP G A TP PIM +/- POST GP G A TP PIM +/-
2017-18 Saskatoon Maniacs U15 AA SAAHL U15 14 1 5 6 10 - |
2018-19 Saskatoon Stallions U15 AA SAAHL U15 31 14 18 32 40 - |
2019-20 Saskatoon Riverkings U18 AA SAAHL U18 33 13 29 42 34 - | Playoffs 5 7 3 10 6 -0
Saskatoon Blazers U18 AAA SMAAAHL 4 0 0 0 0 - |
2020-21 Saskatoon Blazers U18 AAA SMAAAHL 4 0 4 4 0 - |
2021-22 Saskatoon Blazers U18 AAA “C” SMAAAHL 43 31 29 60 40 - | Playoffs 6 1 3 4 21 -0
2022-23 Brooks Bandits AJHL 44 16 53 69 12 - | Playoffs 15 3 4 7 10 -0
2023-24 Providence College NCAA - - - - - - |
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