The Toronto Maple Leafs recently completed their 2013 prospect camp held not only get a better understanding of where their respective crop of prospects sat but to introduce their new draftee’s to the inner workings of the organization. Never a bad idea to get these young men introduced as quickly as possible to the tools that will be necessary to take the next step in becoming a professional hockey player; from classes revolving around dietary intake to media 101 there was a lot more to learn than just puck skills. Let’s face it though, this event allows the players to become accustomed to the practice center, the facilities at their disposal and with their Maple Leaf peers. No one is going to push you harder than a friend or at minimum a teammate who is in a similar situation, everyone wants to succeed and growing as a group can only but benefit them all in the long run.
Although all recently drafted Leaf prospects attend camp, there are always the dark horse non-drafted invitee’s included who are there to help round out the rosters and fill positional gaps. These invites are always interesting (to me at least) to take a deeper look at as you never know for certain if they were invited solely to fill a spot or for an extended look by Maple Leaf scouts.
Some video of the camp can be found here for your viewing pleasure (special thanks for both attendees who made the trek to the MasterCard center to capture them):
Matt Bellerive (wearing number 63) is an 18 year old, 5’11” 188lbs winger for the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL who put up 36 points in 69 games last year with more than a just couple PIM’s. He definitely did not go unnoticed at camp where more than one person who attended had positive things to say about his game indicating that he most certainly stood out.
Josh Burnside (wearing number 58), an 18 year old Brampton native played for the Mississauga Steelhead alongside Leaf prospect Stuart Percy and although was not selected in his first year of eligibility in the draft, has posed some decent numbers in junior that landed him a second chance to make that ever so important first impression at prospect camp. Although somewhat undersized at 5’11 and 176lbs, Burnside added more than 20lbs to his slight frame and may become a solid two way player given his previous play as a defenseman; that combined with his higher than average skating ability and speed he could indeed have the foundation to become a great two way forward.
Dominik Bittner (wearing number 46) is a 21 year old defenseman visiting from Adler Mannheim (Mannheim Eagles) of the Deutsche Eishockey League (DEL), Germany’s top ice hockey league. The former Everett Silvertip was included on the roster as part of an arrangement MLSE has with Mannheim to share experiences with players and coaches from Germany. At 6’0”, 185lbs additional weight could assist in his development given that he is already playing against men in the DEL and a definite should he ever desire taking a shot at the NHL. A good shot of Kunzle and Bittner at the end of camp https://twitter.com/zsclions/status/355635637715628032/photo/1
Teddy Doherty (wearing number 87), is a 19 year old Boston College freshman who managed to put up 18 points in 38 games this past season as a defenseman. On the smaller side coming in at 5’9” and 178lbs, some additional weight may see him be able to make the jump to the AHL if his development curve continues.
One invitee who definitely stood out was 21 year old University of New Hampshire forward Kevin Goumas (wearing number 91). Coming in at 5’10” and 160lbs, Goumas was second on the UNH team in scoring and although a little on the smaller side is known to be a skilled setup guy with soft hands who’s skating abilities really stood out according to one particular attendee that took in the prospect camp.
Another interesting undrafted invitee to attend was 19 year old Swiss winger Mike Kunzle (wearing number 85), who laced them up for the GC Küsnacht Lions last year scoring 15 goals and 21 points in 30 games while also putting up 4 points, 3 of which were goals in 6 games playing for Switzerland’s under 20 team. Already NHL sized at 6’5”, 205lbs, just take a look at the picture above of Kunzle and Bittner to get an idea of just how big this kid is. Here is a video of one of his shootout attempts at camp:
After going undrafted Mack Lemmon who is a Niagara Ice Dog power forward also received an invitation to attend the Maple Leafs prospect camp. Looking at his stats he is an absolute grinder who does not hesitate to drop the mitts. As an 18 year old 5’10”, 185lbs agitator although he had only 9 points in 52 games if he is able to grow his game to include more elements outside of hitting and fighting could provide to be an interesting late round pick that would add a level of sandpaper and energy in a bottom six roll.
You might very well be hearing the name Beau McCue (wearing number 74) a little more often since his attendance at Leafs camp. Already possessing NHL size, the 6’1” 200lbs 18 year old Missoula, Montana native put up 29 points in 54 games for the Tri-City Americans of the WHL. At a +14 there is definitely some potential there that in my opinion should definitely be explored further. Of all the players on the list he is one that appears to stick out in my mind. Looking at the headlines strewn about Google McCue appears to be a bit of a clutch player in the making, scoring some well timed goals for the Americans throughout last year.
“I had talked to them earlier in the season and the same scout (Roy Stasiuk) who talked to me, called and invited me to camp,” said McCue, who was enjoying the 72-degree weather in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Tuesday afternoon. “It was really exciting to get that call. With the injury this year and the flow of my game coming to a halt and I had to restart, this invitation was a confidence booster, you could say.” (Courtsey of the Tri-City Herald)
London Knight fans have been lauding the positional play and open ice hitting ability of Kevin Raine (wearing number 61) for some time now and it was good to see him attend Leafs camp to add some additional grit to the back end for the event. The 20 year old Dryden, Ontario native who stands at an impressive 6’1” and 205lbs has solidified himself as a rugged stay at home defenseman in the OHL. Possibly stuck behind a number of top end defensemen in the Knights system, it was interesting to see Raine conduct himself well on the Chicago Wolves team to whom he was later traded to in the season. Raine summarized his play well back as a 17 year old in this video:
Definitely some interesting additions to the squad and it appears that a number of them definitely caught the attention of a couple of the attendee’s. Will be interesting to see if any of them sign on with the organization but they are definitely names to keep in mind when taking a look at Leafs prospects development moving forward. As always some food for thought.