All that talk in the last post about whom the Toronto Maple Leafs may pick in the upcoming 2014 NHL draft in the eighth spot made me want to revisit some of the rookie camp invitees who were not selected in the draft who in my opinion the Leafs may want to consider, at minimum, of re-inviting to their upcoming prospect camps/training camps to take another look at. So without further a due, here are the prospects potentially worth reconsidering.
Beau McCue first joined the Leafs in 2013 as an invitee to their prospect camp and the 19 year old did not look out of place. The Colorado Springs, CO (by way of Montana) native is sizable, coming in at 6’1″ and 200lbs and put up a decent 40 points (in 72 games) with 20 of those goals while playing for the Tri-City Americans. Some may argue that those statistics aren’t mind blowing and I would tend to agree but anytime you can turn a prospect into an asset without having to give up anything, I for one am all for it.
Alot of what we can find about McCue is that he is a solid 2 way player and edgy grinder, something the Leafs have a fair amount of in the system but looking at some of the veterans in the Marlies lineup that will most likely not be back with the club next fall there may be an opportunity to take an extended look at him without risking a whole lot. He will definitely have to spend some time with Barb Underhill the Leafs skating wizard as it is noted that his skating is underwhelming but looking at what she had managed to achieve with some of the other young players, the risk may very well be worth the reward.
Justin Baker was included as an invitee to the 2012 Maple Leafs Rookie Camp and is currently finishing up his senior year playing for St. Lawrence University (NCAA) where the 22 year old defenseman has put up some solid numbers in the campaign with 9 goals and 24 assists (33 points) in just 38 games. At 6’2″, 190lbs he still needs to pack on some weight in my opinion for the grind of the professional game at the AHL level but those are pretty solid numbers for a defenseman who has continued to progress, at least statistically every single year of his college career. The Streetsville, ON native has been mentioned in ECAC publications at times as one of the best offensive blue-liners in the NCAA right now and I really hope he is still on the Leafs radar as a potential invitee.
Kevin Raine attended Leafs prospect camp as an invitee and in my opinion was on of the best included on the roster, he definitely caught peoples attention. The 20 year old is currently finishing up his OHL career as the captain of the Sudbury Wolves where the 6’1″ 205lbs defense-man put up a decent 21 points in 54 games while registering in at a responsible +19. Joining the Portland Pirates, affiliate of the NHL Phoenix Coyotes recently Raine appeared in 5 games putting up 1 assist although it remains to be seen if he has signed with the club.
Another attendee that I found quite interesting if only for his immense size was 23 year old stay at home defense-man Ben Oskroba who currently tilts the scales at sizable 6’5″ 225lbs. Formerly of Northeastern, Oskroba transferred to UConn after playing a year in the SPHL for the Peoria Riverman (assuming due to the transfer and his eligibility) where he put up a decent 4 points in 12 games and sat at a +8 and what potentially surprised me the most was a very modest 13 PIMs.
For the remaining players on my list it seems the Leafs were either uninterested or too slow to express interest in them but the following were two other prospects who were former invitees that I hope the Leafs do consider remaining in some contact with given their continued progress over the past 1-2 years.
22 year old Rockville, MD native first came on to Leaf fans radar while attending the Leafs prospect camp, 22 year old Nick Sorkin was recently offered a recent ATO (amateur tryout) with the Hamilton Bulldogs and although he was on my list of players the Leafs should continue to watch, I definitely wish him the best. That being said, I do hope the Leafs continue to monitor his progress given that he did managed to put up 41 points in 41 games while playing for the University of New Hampshire this year.
Another University of New Hampshire alumni, Kevin Goumas was another interesting potential prospect who previously attended the Leafs rookie camp as an invitee. The 22 year old is potentially a little undersized at the moment, listed at 5’10” and 160lbs but anything to do with his size can automatically be overlooked when you see that he managed to throw up 52 points in 40 games this past year. Unfortunately for us the Philadelphia Flyers recently signed Goumas to an amateur tryout but like Sorkin, I hope he remains on the Leafs radar.
What potentially surprised me the most when putting the list above together was the disinterest the Maple Leafs appeared to show towards college free agents this year especially given some of the ties they had to players like Goumas. Perhaps it was indicative of Brian Burkes influence on the team who made a point of signing one to two college free agents every year and although none appeared to pan out in the long run save for Tyler Bozak, it still shows a relative success rate of 1 in every 10 players and in my mind is still very much worth the gamble. I wonder if the Leafs are able to influence which players their ECHL affiliate the Orlando Solar Bears sign next year and if so perhaps we will seem some of the above getting a better look in the near future. As always, puck for thought.