The Toronto Marlies recently announced that they had made a number of additions to the 2013 training camp roster via Professional Try Outs and Training Camp Tryout agreements. The Marlies squad is for all intents and purposes looking incredibly young this year and it has the appearances that new head coach Steve Spott is looking to inject some additional options into the lineup in terms of veteran leadership and experience. Looking at some of the names attending it is also appears that the Toronto Maple Leafs and their scouting staff are exploring the possibility of adding to their young stable of prospects with a project player or two, who still at relatively young ages, may have yet to reach their full potential. Here are some of those players in no particular order.
24 year old Stefan Legein was a second round pick, 37th over all of the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2007 NHL draft and gold metal winner with the Canadian U20 squad. Hockey’s Future had this to say about Legein “Blessed with blazing speed, the Oakville, ON native plays a game tailor-made for the new, less-restrictive NHL. His work ethic and dedication to improving his game have been lauded by coaches, teammates, and scouts alike.”. In the 2008 – 2009 season Legein requested to be sent home from Columbus’s then AHL affiliate the Syracuse Crunch where it was said that he had reportedly retired from the sport, more on that situation in this Sportsnet article and this Ice Dogs video:
The rumours surrounding substance abuse were completely unfounded but Legein was quoted at admitting that he had lost his passion for the game. Gone was the fun and possibly the advantage he held over smaller players growing up. That being said he poses to be an intriguing prospect given his draft status and his skill set. His speed is especially intriguing, as found on Wikipedia:
“Legein participated in the 2007 CHL Top Prospects Game and the OHL Eastern Conference All-Star Team in 2007, where he won the fastest skater competition, completing a single lap in 14.109 seconds.”
Perhaps being close to home will set his mind at ease and I for one hopes he gets to sit down and have a conversation with Paul Ranger who would provide to be a great mentor in this regard to help him clear his mind and rediscover his passion for the sport should the Leafs decide to sign him.
Yes he is indeed the younger brother of Pittsburg Penguins star James Neal. The 24 year old comes into Marlies camp on a tryout, tipping the scales at 6’3″, 220lbs. Originally drafted by the Dallas Stars in the fifth round, 149th overall in 2007, Neal spent the past season playing for Toronto’s newest affiliate the Orlando Solar Bears and you have to wonder if this is the first Bears attendee’s as part of this new relationship, here’s hoping.
“Neal is a physically imposing forward like his older brother, James. His skating is above average for a player his size and he does his best work along the boards. Plays a clean and fairly industrious game. Craves physical play. Has a tremendous off-ice work ethic and keeps himself in tiptop shape. Doesn’t possess any sort of mesmerizing talent and is still very raw.” states Michael’s profile over on Hockey’s Future.
Although coming in at 24, Neal did miss a complete season with a knee injury and might possess the size and speed that make him a worthy investment for the Leafs. His statistics although varied do tend to express an upwards trend.
Seeing 26 year old Wade MacLeod’s name surface on any hockey camp roster this year in itself must have been a pretty significant victory for him. Although I prefer not to go into too much detail into something that is of a medical nature, essentially while playing for the Springfield Falcons of the AHL MacLeod was boarded and immediately suffered a seizure on the ice. The game was suspended and MacLeod taken to the hospital where it was discovered that he had a benign mass in his brain. After seeking the recommendations of multiple neurologists, MacLeod opted for brain surgery earlier this year and this is his first return to professional hockey since.
The 5’11” 185lbs forward lead Northeastern University skaters with 2010-11 with 45 point in 38 games and appears to have settled in as a rookie in the AHL with an honest 29 points in 66 games. There does not seem to be much information on his skill set but you cannot deny that the guy can put the puck into the back of the net and it will be interesting to follow his progress and we wish him the best in camp.
It was good to see Yuen’s name come up again, this time to attend the Marlies camp after being inserted into the Prospect camp roster as well as attending the Maple Leafs main camp. It appears both Toronto management and their scouts are taking a pretty lengthy look at Yuen especially given that both remaining invitee defensemen, Kevin Raine and Trevor Murphy, were sent back to their respective junior teams recently; here’s hoping that he is making the most of the opportunity.
Some really interesting back story for each player attending and wish them all the best in camp. As always food for thought.