A change in direction, if not a change in philosophy has definitely become apparent when it comes to the Toronto Maple Leafs and their renewed focus on restocking a once depleted prospect system after years of neglect. In recent weeks it seems that they were quite literally leaving no stone unturned with a number of signings from some rather un-Maple Leaf like areas including the Kontential Hockey League (KHL) and Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS).
The moves appear to bear the ‘Mark’ of ‘Hunter’ (groan) and fans should be excited, not so much by the caliber of the players obtained but by the sheer fact that the team is starting to step outside of its own comfort zone, flexing their financial muscle and taking on higher risk with the potential for reward type players they may not have considered in the past. They are also signing a number of these players to AHL contracts as opposed to entry level deals meaning they don’t count again the teams 50 player cap; something the Leafs should have been doing for years. With a continued affiliation with the Orlando Solar Bears there is also the potential that some of these players will start next season in Florida with an opportunity to make an impact for a solid Orlando team with an envious fan base, while playing a fair number of minutes to help in slowly acclimatizing them to the rigors of the professional game all with the potential to join the Marlies at a later date. So without further ado here are the players that have joined the club in recent weeks.
21 year old Rodewald spent this past season as an overager with the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL and after going undrafted last year managed to put up solid points and expressed continued growth in his game. Any prospect you can pick up without having to burn a draft pick or an entry level deal is just good risk management. Rodewald is signed to an ATO for the remainder of this season and an AHL contract next year so the Leafs didn’t have to burn another NHL SPC on him and he wont count against the player cap. Spending some initial time in Orlando and bringing him up to the Marlies after some seasoning next year might be the best for both parties, from an ice time perspective as well as from a development perspective. Appears to have some size and is said to have decent skating, this low risk signing was another positive step forward.
Bradford has bounced around a little but the 20 year old ended his last season with the Owen Sound Attack putting up 73 points in 69 games. He suffered a badly broken femur earlier in his career which may have impacted his skating and stumped his development cruve but what can be found about him indicated that he is a talented player with above average hockey IQ, a good shot and is solid at both ends of the ice. Will be joining the Marlies on a ATO for the remainder of the season and if his development was impacted by the mentioned injury there is a definite chance he could be a savvy acquisition.
Traccitto is a former Niagara IceDog who went undrafted even after putting up 38 points as a defenseman in his final OHL season. Has solid size at 6’0″ 207lbs and has been brought in on an ATO contract for the remainder of the season and appears to be in a position where he will be a depth player for the team during the potential playoff run where management will most likely have more time to have a closer look and evaluate him during the period.
Right Wing — shoots R
University of Alberta Golden Bears
Born May 28 1992 — Slave Lake, ALTA
[22 yrs. ago]
Height 5.11 — Weight 175 [180 cm/79 kg]
22 year old Foster is a Slave Lake, Alberta product who was, up until recently, playing for the University of Alberta Golden Bears who he lead to two national championships while putting up 42 points in 28 games. The former Edmonton Oil King signed a 2 year AHL contract with the Marlies and is set to join the club next season. Any time you can pickup a player that is putting up points at an above average rate at his level is worth the risk.
“Pros: Good stickhandler. Decent shot. Decent Skater. Always goes to prime scoring areas. Cons: No physicality. Could improve his defensive awareness” SEPH at HFBoards.com
Forward — shoots L
Moscow Oblast Atlant – KHL
Born Oct 14 1993 — Nizhny Tagil, Russia
[21 yrs. ago]
Height 5.11 — Weight 183 [180 cm/83 kg]
21 year old Soshnikov signed a three year entry level contract with the Maple Leafs recently after going undrafted but progressing up through the KHL minor league system where he put up solid points and has shown growth every year since. There are things you have to like about his game that were summarized in the video above, he appears to posses good speed, solid hand eye coordination and a willingness to dig in the corners and take the puck to the net. It will be interesting to see how this will translate to the North American game but you have to like the fact that Soshnikov is willing to report to the AHL if necessary, something he stated after signing the agreement.
With the above taken into consideration and with the players that will be joining the organization next year (including Frederik Gauthier, Carter Verhaeghe, Andreas Johnson, Tony Cameranesi and potentially Max Everson) there is going to be a significant influx of youth into the organization. Only time will tell but this could potentially bode well for the Marlies as well as the Maple Leafs prospect cupboards if even a couple of these players develop and make the next step to the NHL.