2015 -2016 Toronto Maple Leafs Prospect Camp Roster Invitees

The Toronto Maple Leafs have been busy pretty busy this summer, whether it be at the draft or trading Phil Kessel they still found a way to throw together a pretty solid prospect camp up in Collingwood (with the Pan Am Games in town their regular facilities were unavailable). Unlike previous years, there was a complete revamp of the camp that focused primarily on player growth as opposed to a skills demonstration with scrimmages like in previous camps. There was an absolute tonne of invites extended this year and for the entire list of players attending see the official list below:


As in previous years there were some interesting invite’s extended along with the younger Maple Leafs drafted prospects (including but not limited to the likes of Nylander, Marner, Gauthier, Kapanen, Brown, Verhaeghe, Johnson, Finn, Valiev, Loov and others). Can’t imagine people were familiar with a number of the included names so I decided to throw together a bit more information on each of those that might be considered legitimate Maple Leaf prospects and who might be worth acquiring. Below are more details on the top four prospect forwards, defensemen and two goalies. The remainder are summarized after.


1. Gabe Guertler
20 years old
5’9”, 190lbs
Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)

Stats courtesy of hockeyDB.com

Stats courtesy of hockeyDB.com

One of the more interesting forward invitee’s to camp, Gabe Guertler overaged with the Soo Greyhounds of the OHL after leaving the University of Minnesota to pursue what one can only assume was additional playing time (it is fairly well known that rookies very rarely see top line minutes at University south of the border). There is also a connection with Kyle Dubas, the former GM of the Greyhounds which most likely lead to the invite. Put up pretty solid season points and is known for solid faceoff percentages and skating but it was mentioned that he needs to work on his defensive zone coverage and composure (noted to take unnecessary penalties).

Future Considerations had a really interesting article on Guertler when he was still playing on the USHL’s Fargo Force which can be found below:


2. Michael Joly
20 years old
5’11”, 172lbs
Right Wing
Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)

Stats courtesy of hockeyDB.com

Stats courtesy of hockeyDB.com

Joly who hails from Gatineau, Quebec had his season derailed by injury but was most likely already on the Leaf’s scouting staff radar given that he plays on the same team as Fredrick Gauthier. Potentially viewed as undersized, Joly was passed over twice in the draft but did attend camp with the Buffalo Sabres last year and possesses some intriguing qualities one of which is summed up nicely in the video below:

Joly appears to at least statistically speaking be a pretty clutch playoff performer however according to WildcatMapleLeafs28 on HFBoard’s who has watch Joly play quite a bit this last year “He has good IQ , great hands and a shot but isn’t the best skater and doesn’t play a 200 foot game”. Would be curious to see his advanced stats as it may have been the reason an invitation was extended. Maple Leafs Hot Stove also had an interesting article about his attendance which can be found below:


3. Alex Kile
21 years old
6’0″, 190lbs
Left Wing
University of Michigan (Big-10)

Stats courtesy of hockeyDB.com

Stats courtesy of hockeyDB.com

Kile produced solid numbers in his sophomore season playing with Zach Hyman at the University of Michigan, putting up 26 points (13 goals) in 36 games; he is a great combination of size (6’0″, 190lbs), speed and silky smooth hands. The 21 year old winger appears to have grown in terms of both physical size and overall game and at the same point in his career has surpassed both Casey Bailey and the aforementioned Hyman and is an intriguing invitee to say the least. There was a great review over at SBNation/MaizenBrew found below:


4. Nikolai Skladnichenko
20 years old
6’0″, 198lbs
Metallurg Novokuznetsk (KHL)

Stats courtesy of hockeyDB.com

Stats courtesy of hockeyDB.com

Skladnichenko is already playing in the KHL with some regularity, putting up 5 points in 16 games with Metallurg this past season. Has good size at 6’0″, 190lbs and was selected to the Russian World Junior U20 team in 2014 while also being included on the roster for the Subway Super Series in 2013. It is mentioned that he has an incredibly hard wrist shot although beyond that there really isn’t a whole lot of information out there about him. Put up 50 points in 42 games as a 15 year old playing in the GMHL (junior A) for the Bobcaygeon Bucks before returning to Russia. Could be another interesting name to watch out for.


1. Gavin Bayreuther
21 years old
6’1″, 195lbs
St. Lawrence University (ECAC)

After being passed over in previous drafts, Gavin Bayreuther could be another prime example of a late blooming defenseman who is just starting to find his stride and is currently regarded as one of the top offensive defensemen in the NCAA. Know for an absolutely blistering slapshot and solid offensive awareness with great vision, areas of potential improvement mentioned include both skating and conditioning. The Canaan, New Hampshire native and cousin to current NHLer Ben Lovejoy of the Anaheim Ducks could be an interesting dark horse prospect if Barb Underhill can get here hands on him on a regular basis. Here is a great overview of Bayreuther by powerplaycj14 over on Youtube:

2. Nikolas Brouillard
20 years old
5’11”, 168lbs
Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)

Potentially another case of teams being scared off by a players size especially given the position he plays, Brouillard has been passed over at the draft and two training camps despite posting some pretty impressive offensive numbers in the QMJHL. It was reported via le Soleil that the Maple Leafs had already been in touch with Brouillard’s agent even before the end of the season and that an invitation to the development camp was extended right after the draft; given the assumed interest I am looking forward to seeing if there is another invitation to come. Appears to have offensive awareness, skating and hands but it was mentioned that his defensive game needs work (along with all other offensively minded defensemen it seems).

3. Aiden Jamieson
19 years old
6’2″, 185lbs
London Knights (OHL)

A definite Mark Hunter invite given the team Jamieson plays for, he would be quite familiar with the player who for all accounts is a solid defenseman with decent puck moving skills and ability to drive play (given the number of assists he racked up last year) with size and room to grow. Bill Placzek over at DraftSite.com had this to say about Jamieson:

“Terrific skating rearguard who is a second year eligible. The issue is that he has balance issues during contact, so he is less engaging than you expect. Plays lighter than he is. Has developed a bit more but this a long term developmental prospect.”

So potentially another late bloomer that has potential and size who I would not be disappointed to see invited to prospect camp.

4. Connor Boland
20 years old
6’3″, 194lbs
Sault Ste. Marie Greyhouds (OHL)

The Whitby, Ontario native completed his overage year with the Soo Greyhounds after being traded from the Peterborough Pete’s with Nick Ritchie (a team he captained) putting up totals of 22 points in 61 games and finishing the season with a plus/minus of 20. Given the familiarity that Kyle Dubas has with the Greyhounds it was good to see Boland’s included as you can be assured there is something he may know about the prospect over other teams scouts that could be advantageous to the club.

Three games into the 2012-13 season, he was diagnosed with mononucleosis and missed seven weeks. A big strong defenseman who plays with an edge and beat attackers who go one on one with him. A solid passer in transistion. Bill Placzek at DraftSite.com

You have to root for a guy that also throws hits like the one below at a camp no less 🙂


1. Alex Lyon
22 years old
6’1″, 200lbs
Yale University (ECAC)

Stats courtesy of hockeyDB.com

Stats courtesy of hockeyDB.com

Alex Lyon was quite possibly the most recognizable name invited to the Maple Leafs development camp, an undrafted goalie playing for Yale who has put up the best statistical numbers of the entire ECAC with a 1.62 goals against average paired with a .939 save percentage along with 7 shutouts which landed him the Ken Dryden Award as the league’s most outstanding goalie. Chances are Lyon will return to Yale and will therefore be ineligible to join the Leafs for the upcoming rookie camp but definitely a player to keep a tab on.

“You knew what you were going to get every day at practice, every weekend going into games. He has the right combination of physical ability, mental toughness and hockey sense. To me, that’s why he’s a really good goalie.” Keith Allain, Yale Coach via the New Haven Register.

2. Lucas Peressini
20 years old
6’2″, 188lbs
Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)

Stats courtesy of hockeyDB.com

Stats courtesy of hockeyDB.com

Taking the majority of the starts for a fairly average Frontenacs team, Peressini posted the second best Goals Against Average (GAA) in the entire OHL last season behind Ken Appleby of the championship Oshawa Generals and eventual Memorial Cup winners, not bad company to be in which also landed Peressini the OHL Goaltender of the Year award for his efforts.. Possesses decent size at 6’2″ although I was amazed to see comments made online that he was considered small for a goalie.

There was a great article on the Whig about Peressini which can be found below:


So there you have it, outlines of some of the more interesting invitee’s to attend the Maple Leafs development camp but by all means were not the only ones that attended that may be worth watching in the months/years to come. Below are small snippets of the remaining invitee’s who attended.


Stephen Baylis is a 20 year old winger playing Junior A for the Carleton Place Canadians of the Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL) who was in the top 10 in terms of overall points in the league with 69 points in 54 games who possesses good size at 6’0″, 186lbs. Has incredible speed mixed with equal parts grit.

Scott Eansor is a 19 year old center who just finished his second year with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL putting up 37 points in 72 games; possible playoff performer with 5 goals in 6 playoff games. Undersized at 5’9″ 170lbs who’s season was severely impacted by a bout of mononucleosis, has good speed and above average hockey sense.

Viktor Liljegran is a 21 year old native of Stockholm, Sweden currently plying his trade as a left winger with R.P.I. of the ECAC. Put up 12 points in 40 games playing as a rookie but possesses size at 6’3″ 200lbs and at one point lead the team in goals. Danny Martin of newsminer.com had a good article about him found here http://www.newsminer.com/sports/ice_dogs/newcomer-liljegren-adjusts-quickly-to-ice-dogs/article_11c526fe-30b7-11e3-b034-001a4bcf6878.html

Kevin Rooney is a 22 year old centre who just finished up his third year playing for Providence College putting up 15 points in 41 games. Good size at 6’2″, 190lbs who is a solid two way forward with good faceoff skills.

Zack Saar is an absolute monster tilting the scales at 6’5″ 236lbs and at only 22 years old could find his game catch up to his rapid growth. Had a disappointing sophomore season but could be one to watch out for if he can put it all together as you just “can’t teach size”.


Matthew Abt is a 21 year old good Albertan boy finishing up his freshman year with R.I.T. putting up 9 points in 33 games. Possesses size at 6’4″, 180lbs who’s development should be monitored in the coming years.

Brien Diffley is a 20 year old finishing his freshman year with Boston University where he put up 11 points in 40 games. Also possesses size at 6’2″, 184lbs. SB Nation has a great article about Diffley found here http://www.sbncollegehockey.com/hockey-east/2015/6/25/8844947/2015-nhl-draft-prospect-brien-diffley-boston-university-defenseman-ncaa-bu

Nolan Gluchowski put up a solid 16 points in 29 games as a rookie defender for St. Lawrence University. The 21 year also has some size at 6’0″ 196lbs and has ties to Babcock, see article here http://www.miprepzone.com/oakland/results.asp?ID=12189

Jordan Gross is a solid offensive defenseman putting up 28 points in 42 games for Notre Dame. The 20 year old is a little undersized at 5’10” 177lbs. Bill Placzek over at DraftSite.com has this to say about Gross Long term developmental defenseman prospect who displays exceptional mobility, and feet. Possesses a huge deadly shot. Makes a good breakout pass and handles the puck well. Needs time to get bigger and stronger. Was named to the U.S. World Junior A roster for the Junior A Challenge.

Cameron Lizotte is a 17 year old patrolling the blueline for the Peterborough Pete’s of the OHL who put up a modest 9 points in 67 games with an unusually high number of PIM’s. Has NHL size at 6’2″, 193lbs and is characterized as a rough and tumble type of player. Originally cracked the NHL Central Scouting rankings at 99 but remained undrafted, Lizotte may be a project worth spending more development time with.

Brendan Miller deserves an honorable mention and I really should have included him in my outlines above. At only 21 years old, the 6’1″, 190lbs defensemen put up a staggering 55 points in 65 games playing for the North Bay Battalion, adding a further 12 points in 15 playoff games. It is almost a mystery how he went undrafted and here is hoping the Leafs add him to the upcoming main camp taking place later this summer. Brock Otten over at OHL Prospects had this to say about Miller “Miller’s had an absolutely fantastic OHL playoffs, which is obviously something scouts key in on. He has good size and plays in all situations for North Bay, including helping to quarterback their powerplay. He’s also slowly developed into their premier puck rusher/mover, but has added more of a physical element to his game this year. At 6’1, 200lbs, Miller has the size to develop into a quality two-way player at the next level and has blossomed under the tutelage of Stan Butler.”

Will Reilly is a 17 year old from Toronto playing for the North York Rangers of the OJHL. Put up 35 points in 47 goals and has good size already at 6’2″, 190lbs. Looking forward to tracking his progress over the next couple of years. McKeens had a great write about him found here http://www.mckeenshockey.com/uncategorized/scouting-william-reilly-2015-nhl-draft/


Collin Delia put up solid numbers with Merrimack College with a 1.86 Goals Against Average and 0.937 Save Percentage. Has size at 6’2″ 190lbs and was scouted by a number of Division 1 schools. Another strong candidate to watch for in the coming years.

Justin Nicols is an interesting addition who originally signed at ATO with the Toronto Marlies of which more information can be found at The Leafs Nation here http://theleafsnation.com/2015/4/21/marlies-sign-justin-nichols-to-an-ato Not often you see expressed interest in a goalie that only stands 5’9″ so definitely curious to see him play at camp.

Quite an interesting trend of some larger bodies who were invited to camp mixed in with a couple of definite dark horse prospects. Looking forward to seeing who in the coming months gets invited to camp as there are definitely a couple I am personally keen to watch.


2014 – 2015 Toronto Maple Leafs Establish New Multi-Tiered Prospect System

With summer free agency looming, there is a pretty good chance that the Toronto Marlies along with their East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) affiliate Orlando Solar Bears will be pretty busy this summer. Both clubs managed to secure playoff berths this year but were unfortunately eliminated in the first round of the Calder and Kelly Cup playoffs respectively. With changes coming at MLSE in both their approach and philosophy on how to best leverage an ECHL affiliate, a new multi-tiered prospect system appears to have been proposed where both the ECHL and the AHL will serve as legitimate destinations for prospects. With that in mind, there is a pretty good chance that both teams will be fairly active on the trade and or acquisition front this summer and although these moves will most likely not be reported in the mainstream media, none-the-less could significantly increase the number of legitimate prospects the Maple Leafs would have in their system moving forward.

The assumed multi-tiered approach especially for a team with the kind of financial backing the Leafs have makes too much sense and it is strange that they didn’t implement it earlier. There are always going to be late round picks and undrafted players who will excel at different rates and being able to bring those types of players that show long term potential while being able to keep a close eye on them could increase the ability of the organization to discover and essentially hold the rights to these diamond in the rough type players. Examples for the sake of argument of such players that have attended Leafs prospect camps in the past included Charles Sarault and Adam Hughesman who are 23 and 24 years old respectively. Both took longer to establish their professional games but both have made their way up to the AHL and shown consistent progress. Dane Fox was in a similar situation this past year, after going undrafted the 21 year old was signed by the Vancouver Canucks and put up solid numbers (30 goals) in his first professional year with the ECHL Kalamazoo Wings. Its these types of players that teams really should have invested more time in but they had neither the roster space, cap space or the patience.

On the players side of the equation it use to be more lucrative to head to Europe if you didn’t make the NHL after a couple of years after turning pro instead of continuing to stick it out in the AHL/ECHL. With the new multi-tiered approach, if you offer prospect players, especially the younger ones a more structured environment with the potential to move up through the organization from one of the proposed tiers (AHL or ECHL) and give them access to first class facilities, living arrangements, staff, coaches etc. then it becomes a lot more desirable for those players to stick it out in North America. It may not be all that well known but the Orlando Solar Bears are an absolute first class organization who are well supported within their community, have great facilities and have plans to build another training facility consisting of two practice pads at nearby Winter Gardens, Florida in the near future. Let’s also not forget that getting paid to play hockey in Florida could be a fairly desirable for a young prospect and these examples of the tangible differences could very well sway some prospects to join the organization over another.

In previous postings on this blog we covered some of the players the Maple Leafs had already started to acquire with this multi-tiered system in mind. It is quite plausible that recently acquired players like T.J. Foster and Erik Bradford start their professional careers in the ECHL and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. They will be given every opportunity to play much larger role along with more minutes as opposed to sitting in the press box with the Marlies all season but will also push them to succeed given the opportunity to move up in the organization if they exceed expectations at that level. The same can be said for players that are not performing at the AHL level, they could be move to Florida to work on their game, reestablished their confidence and play more meaningful minutes. It’s a win win situation no matter how you look at it.

If we apply the thinking expressed above to the acquisition of longer term projects/prospects for the ECHL affiliate there are a couple of players currently playing in that league that the organization should consider taking a look into acquiring especially given the success they found with Byron Froese.

Matthew Register is a 25 year old native of Calgary, Alberta that has been plying his trade as a defenseman in the ECHL and is showing progress each year after turning professional. Solid +/- while putting up on average 45 points over the last two years in the ECHL, he recently spent 6 games with the Chicago Wolves (AHL) and put up 4 points. At 6’2”, 205lbs (Wikipedia has him at 6’4”, 200lbs), the undrafted defenseman has size and the innate ability to put up points that might make him ready to make a jump to the AHL but at minimum could be a solid acquisition for the Orlando Solar Bears next season.

Jason Bast is a 25 year old center from Regina, Saskatchewan who finished up a Canadian university career with St. Francis Xavier two years ago before turning pro. In his first full year with the ECHL Idaho Steelhead, Bast put up 52 points in 52 games, 30 of which were goals. Although slight at 5’10”, 190lbs he may have shown enough skill to consider taking a closer look at so that the team can more appropriately determine his potential at the AHL level and at worst he could also assist the Solar Bears next season. There was a great article about Bast on Hockey’s Future found here:


Tyler Barnes, a Burnsville, MI product plied his trade with the University of Wisconsin for four years before turning professional and joining the ECHL Toledo Walleye. Possess soft hands putting up 74 points in 71 games and as a rookie joined the ECHL All-Star squad. May very well be another dark horse the Marlies should consider given their lack of depth scoring the teams appears to be suffering from. Decent size at 6’0”, 198lbs, Hockey’s Future had this to say about Barnes earlier in his career:

“Barnes is a competitor, who shows a positive character at all times. His key strengths are his ice awareness, creativity with the puck as well as being noted as a goal scorer. He’s also noted for having a good shot and good hands. Though Barnes has not quite stopped growing, he plays big for his size. He has earned a lot of praise when he plays hard and does not shy away from physical game. Said to have limitless potential if he continues to develop at the base as he did over the last 2 years. He does need to display a consistent hard work ethic, gain overall strength, and learn to use his speed more effectively.”

With the additional roster space that may finally be realized now that the Maple Leafs will have more flexibility to send younger prospects to the Orlando Solar Bears to play more meaningful minutes and the likes of Colton Orr and Fraser McLaren unlikely to return to the team there is the potential that the Toronto Marlies may still yet sign more players over the summer to fill out their roster. In my opinion below are some of the players the organization should consider acquiring if they are not resigned by their current clubs (it is believed most are restricted).

Greg Nemisz’s career has in short been plagued by injury and if ever there is a team to take a more long term position with him, it is the Maple Leafs organization as they won’t have any need to fast track his career and have the resources to assure he is given every opportunity to succeed. At only 24 years old there is still time to turn it around for the former first round pick (25th overall Calgary Flames in the 2008 NHL draft) and he has shown flashes at being an effective center with the size 6’3”, 197lbs to back it up. Nemisz signed a one-year contract with the Carolina Hurricanes in July 2014 and may be available this summer. Hockey’s Future has this to say about Nemisz:

“Nemisz, a former first round pick by Calgary, has the size and hands to be an NHL forward, but needs to avoid injuries and put everything together to get back on track. When healthy he can drive the net hard while showing his soft hands in tight and has solid decision-making skills along with good defensive instincts. The lanky winger needs to increase his overall strength to help the physical side of his game in order to become a power forward in the NHL.”

Given his most recent injury there may be a chance the Hurricanes decide not to resign him and in my humble opinion the Leafs should consider adding him to their system given the potential risk/reward.

Danny Kristo was drafted in the second round, 56th overall by the Montreal Canadians in 2008 but was included in a trade to the New York Rangers during his four year tenure at the University of North Dakota. A former Fighting Sioux teammate of Matt Frattin, Kristo’s AHL numbers look almost identical to Frattin’s and at only 24 years of age may be another ‘tweener’ that the Leafs should consider as a potential player for the upcoming NHL season if he can crack the roster at camp. There is still every possibility that the Rangers attempt to keep Kristo but his prospects to play in the NHL may be greater with the Leafs. Here is what Hockey’s Future had to say about Kristo:

“At times, Kristo lacks the consistency and the work ethic needed to play at the NHL level but definitely not the skills. He has quick acceleration, a powerful stride and uses his explosive speed to help make space for him offensively. The talented winger is equally fast with or without the puck and has developed the ability to shoot the puck while in full stride toward the net with a quick, accurate release.”

Tomas Kundratek has been quietly plying his stay at home defensive skills in the AHL and been patiently awaiting an opportunity to join the Washington Capitals full time. The 25 year old Czech Republic native appears to be a fairly solid all round defender with some ability to put up points and is essentially in the same position as TJ Brennan, one of the best defenseman not yet in the NHL. If something can be worked out with Washington and/or they do not resign him for some reason, this may be another prospect worth taking a shot at. Here is what Hockey’s Future had to say about him:

“Kundratek is a solid all-around defenseman with a good cognitive game in both the offensive and defensive zone. He possesses a good shot and a solid first pass out of the zone while still being capable in his own end. While he could definitely improve his reads defensively and his strength, Kundratek has developed well since his early days in the Czech Republic and his curve has been a positive one. He could still stand to pack on a bit of muscle as well.”

“Tomas has been slowly developing over time in the AHL and got a solid stay in the NHL in 2012-13. He very much is on the cusp of being a mainstay in the NHL. While he doesn’t do anything spectacular he has been solid in many regards for a young dman still finding his game.”

So there you have it, there are prospects out there at the lower levels that the Maple Leafs organization should consider looking into and really no stone should be left unturned this summer. Now that there is a new structure in place there is no excuse to acquire a significant number of prospects over the summer outside of the draft. With that being said with respect to the upcoming draft there is a good chance that there will be a couple of players that go undrafted that may be worth taking a risk on and the club should immediate attempt to sign them to AHL contracts. Could be a really interesting summer if this keeps up.

Toronto Marlies Begin Late Season Acquisition Spree for Potential Playoff Run and 2015 – 2016 Season

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.

Jack Rodewald
Right Wing
Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
Born Feb 14 1994 — Winnipeg, MAN
Height 6.02 — Weight 188 — Shoots R
*statistics via HockeyDB.com

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.

Erik Bradford
Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
Born Oct 19 1994 — Orangeville, ONT
Height 6.00 — Weight 191 — Shoots L
*statistics via HockeyDB.com

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.

Reggie Traccitto
Defense — shoots R
UPEI Panthers
Born Jul 5 1989 — Oakville, ONT
[25 yrs. ago]
Height 6.00 — Weight 207 [183 cm/94 kg]
*statistics via HockeyDB.com

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.

T.J. Foster
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]

*statistics via HockeyDB.com

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

Nikita Soshnikov
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]

*statistics via HockeyDB.com

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.

2014 – 2015 Toronto Marlies Add Center Bryon Froese; Advanced Statistics May Have Been Involved

It has been no real secret for those following the Marlies this year that the teams relative youth and inexperience has been a little more apparent with the off season departures of veteran goalie Drew McIntyre and AHL defenseman of the year TJ Brennan. They have had trouble finding the back of the net and with the loss of captain Trevor Smith and stalwart defenseman Korbinian Holzer to callup’s, rookies have been pressed into service with mixed results. Although it is important to allow prospects time to develop and see as much game time action as they are able; as a fan of the team, watching them lose a truck load of games in November and December was somewhat difficult.

Unfortunately this also appears to be further supported by some of the grass roots advanced statistics that are surfacing around the net these days where the lack of scoring has been attributed to the lack of scoring chances. Many thanks to Kevin McAllister (@joshweissbock) for the image below expressing Estimated Fenwick Close for the AHL:

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For those who are not quite familiar with all the new fancy stats seemingly coming out of nowhere this year from the hockey universe, Fenwick is essentially shot attempt differential excluding any blocked shots and the above clearly indicates that yes indeed the Marlies have had trouble scoring because they are not generating enough shot attempts versus the rest of the league. For a more in-depth explanation of Fenwick, Pension Plan Puppets has great article on it found below:


So the Marlies are being out shot and out scored which usually leads to losing, which really should not come as any great surprise. Thankfully however management seemed to be well aware of the problem and initially made moves back in early November to add a scoring or at minimum point generating forward. Mickey Lang, the reigning ECHL scoring leader from the Marlies affiliate Orlando Solar Bears was originally called up when the issue was becoming more apparent but the club suspended Lang before he could suit up in any games citing “personal reasons” which we can be sure was more along the lines of “conduct unbecoming a Toronto Marlie” which was unfortunate for the organization, the team and the player. Hopefully Lang is working hard to make amends. This however opened up opportunity for another player from the ECHL, enter Byron Froese.

Froese is a 23 year old centre from Winkler, Manitoba who was originally drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 4th round of the 2009 NHL entry draft. A solid 6’1″ and 190lbs, Froese was riding a ten game point streak when the Marlies contacted the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL to consumate a loan agreement essentially allowing the Marlies to call up Froese for an undetermined period of time. What made this negotiation more specifically interesting was the fact that although the Cyclones are the ECHL affiliates of the Florida Panthers and Nashville Predators, Froese was only signed to an ECHL contract and was essentially available to any AHL team regardless of affiliation. The Cyclones director of new media and broadcasting, Nick Brunker had this to say about the seemingly unusual agreement:

“When any player is under an ECHL contract, such as Froese, he is eligible to be called up to any AHL team – not just an affiliate,” he said. “With Toronto in need of a forward, they were looking for a guy who can produce. Froese is among as hot as any player right now in the ECHL and certainly earned a promotion.” (via WCPO Cincinnati)

So far the move has proven incredibly worthwhile to the club with Froese contributing 6 points (4 of which were goals) in his first 7 games and the Marlies gaining some important ground after a pretty disastrous slide that has jeopardized their playoff chances. Although known to more of a defensive forward with an innate ability to chip in, if Froese can continue with the point production and sound defensive play he may find his way onto the Marlies or another AHL club in the very near future. A tandem of Froese and Rupert as bottom six centers in the near future if Carrick makes the jump, at least at this point doesn’t seem like such a bad thing. As always, puck for thought.

2014 – 2015 Toronto Maple Leafs Prospects Who Fall Outside of the Top 20 Update

Just as I was putting the finishing touches on an article that covered some of the higher level prospects the Maple Leafs currently had in their system along with where they current are in terms of their respective development, then no less than three other articles from much more reputable sources were published lol; back to the old drawing board. That being said there were some middling prospects that fell outside of the top 20 that most of the authors mentioned (see the links below) that I thought at a minimum deserved some coverage so we knew where they sit.




2010 Draft Prospects Summaries:

Brad Ross took it all in stride. In a recent interview after his call up, ‘Rad-boss’ cited a move down to the Maple Leafs ECHL affiliate Orlando Solar Bears as a bit of a wake-up call. After producing almost a point per game with the Bears, he was recalled to the Marlies where he has put up 6 points in 16 games and was mentioned by the coach as a factor in the games he has played and that finding consistency in his game that will remain a priority throughout the rest of the year. He has put on some much need weight coming in around 190lbs to play the style of game he will need to at the pro level but one must remember that at 22 years old he still has a little bit of time to put it altogether. Has definitely been a more noticeably agitating factor in games this year and looks to be back to his old self.

The remaining three players left in the 2010 draft year selected by the Maple Leafs that fell outside of the Leafs top 20 players mentioned by HockeysFuture who I believe the Leafs only continue to hold the rights to, may still be worth mentioning and are briefly covered below.

Sondre Olden was drafted in the 3rd round, 79th overall by the Maple Leafs in the 2010 draft. The Olso, Norway native is now a 6’4”, 176lbs 22 years old playing in the Swedish Hockey League for Brynas IF as a right winger where he has 2 points in 16 games so far this season.

Daniel Brodin was selected in the 5th round, 146th overall and is also playing for Brynas IF of the SHL. The 6’1”, 187lbs right winger is now 24 years old and was originally projected to be a speedy, checking line winger. He currently has 5 goals and 15 points in 31 games so far. Hockey’s Future had this to say about Brodin earlier on in his career:

“Brodin is a high energy winger who brings a ton of tenacity and speed each game he plays. He’s not intimidated easily and isn’t afraid to battle in the dirty areas of the ice. Likely never to be depended on for his offensive ability, in time Brodin may prove to be a quality checking line forward. The next step for Brodin is adding strength so that his checking game becomes more valuable.”

Josh Nicholls was unfortunately not retained by the Maple Leafs after the draft and signed on with the New York Rangers as a free agent in March of 2013. Nicholls is currently plying his trade in the ECHL for the Greenville Road Warriors where he has 15 points in 15 games.

2011 Draft Prospects Summaries:

Defenseman Max Everson was selected by the Maple Leafs in the 7th round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft and soon after was caught up in an academic scandal that saw three Harvard Crimson players sent home. Although details are scarce, the players were later reinstated and Everson, who spent some time with the USHL’s Omaha Lancers has continued to show progression, at least statistically, over the years. Originally touted as a defensive defense-man with solid skating and positioning, one of the knocks on the Edina, MN native was that he was not overly imposing. That may have changed given that he now tilts the scales at 6’2”, 210lbs. It will be curious to see if the scandal derailed his career permanently but an invite to the Marlies at the end of the year could signal where Leafs management thinks he sits.

Dennis Robertson was selected in the 6th round, 173 overall by the Maple Leafs and finish out four years with Brown University where the defense-man put up pretty respectable numbers. It seems the Leafs parted ways with Robertson who is currently playing in his first full AHL season with the Charlotte Checkers after being signed to an entry level contract by the Carolina Hurricanes.

David Broll may be one of the younger prospects this year on the Marlies who is being affected to a certain degree by the number of veteran players on the squad that also have an element of grit and pugnacity. Playing mostly fourth line minutes he is another player who in my opinion is being miscast due to his size who will benefit from spending some time with the Orlando Solar Bears to refine other elements of his game. Broll has the foot speed and size to grind down other lines and could still very well develop into an effect checking line winger with PK abilities but he needs more time at the pro level working on those areas. Hockeys Future has this to say about Broll:

“With size, strength and skating ability David Broll has all the makings of a future fourth-line energy player. Broll tips the scale at nearly 240lbs, which makes him a monster to handle. With his wrecking ball style, Broll dominates opponents with thunderous body checks. He has a high work ethic and plays a consistent brand of physical hockey that will make him a nice fit to a team’s energy line. He’ll need to keep his conditioning in check and continue working on his defensive game to become a more effective pro.”

2012 Draft Prospect Summaries:

Some would take a demotion to minor pro’s as an early signal that your career had taken a wrong turn somewhere along the line but Ryan Rupert for all intents and purposes appears to have turned it to his advantage putting up 14 points in 17 games before being recalled by the Marlies where he sits at a commendable 8 points in 14 games and sits at a plus 4. Seems the move to the Solar Bears paid off for the coaching staff and Rupert appears to be putting up some much needed and valuable points for a team that is fairly desperate this year for them. Rupert has a ways to go but is showing steady and commendable growth to his game and for a rookie does not look out of place.

Not to mention he is doing things like this again:

2013 Draft Prospect Summaries:

Frabrice Herzog after a pretty slow start with Zug of the Swiss National League appears to have found his scoring touch putting up 7 points in the last 32 games as a 20 year old playing against men of which 6 of those were goals. Playing with the likes of former NHLer Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Robbie Earl, Herzog is on a pretty good Zug team that current sits 5th in the league. One can only assume given his age and the teams relative success, Herzog is most likely playing 3rd to 4th line minutes garnering valuable experience as opposed to playing an overage year in the Q or as a rookie with the Marlies for that matter and at this time and the Leafs should continue to let him to marinate in Europe for the time being.

Although coming back down to Earth a bit since the beginning of the year, Antoine Bibeau, a goalie the Maple Leafs selected in the 6th round (172nd overall) in the 2013 draft is starting to look like a real steal. Posting a solid Save Pct of 0.913 and a GAA of 2.63, Bibeau is another solid (and we mean solid at 6’2”, 210lbs) prospect in the mix with the Marlies and is making some noise.

I won’t touch the 2014 draftee’s this time around but it is safe to say that the Marlies look to be handling the development of their prospect players in a much better fashion these days and are more readily adopting the notion that shuttling younger players to Orlando to get them some much needed ice time, a kick in the pants and a boost in their confidence can pay off in spades. Hopefully a few more of those mentioned above will find their way into a top 20 list in the near future but for the most part they all appear to be headed in the right direction. As always, puck for thought.

2014 – 2015 Toronto Marlies Send Six To Orlando Solar Bears, Wild Speculation Ensues

The Toronto Marlies recently announced they had assigned six players to their ECHL affiliate the Orlando Solar Bears and immediately there were talks of demotion and failure which I think needs to be expanded upon given the circumstances the team currently finds themselves in. For more on the players reassigned, please see the link below:


Before the beginning of the season I had written in part that Tyler Biggs and Brad Ross should start the season with the Orlando Solar Bears partially to build their confidence and in all honesty I think this turn of events is the best thing the Marlies could have done for both players; maximizing their affiliation agreement with the Bears is an astute use of resources. One does not have to look much further than Sam Carrick‘s progress, who was having difficulty making the jump from junior to the AHL level and the impact he is now having is nothing short of impressive and a true testament to how his development was handled. This move for Biggs and Ross is of the same mindset, getting both players more significant minutes in the ECHL as opposed to sticking them on the fourth line for 4-8 minutes a game in rotation, allows the club to fast track their development, especially given the sheer depth chart of the Marlies (they are not going to send Orr or McLaren down to the ECHL) this is better for both the players and the organization.

Ryan Rupert is in his first season as a pro and like the others is more a victim of circumstance than anything else. The Marlies have a number of veteran players on the club this year that are taking up third/fourth line spots. Easing a young player like Rupert into the pro game by sending him to Orlando can only but benefit both the team and the player. Allowing him to develop under the watchful eye of a trusted affiliate who utilizes similar systems and can guarantee more significant minutes just makes sense.

Eric Knodel and Blake Kessel being reassigned to the Solar Bears is also a sign of a backlog of defensemen the Marlies have in the system. With Viktor Loov staying in North America and the late signing of Brendan Mikkelson, there were already a limited number of spots available on the back end; this assures more significant playing time for both players as opposed to sitting in the press box while waiting for their chance to rotate in with the Marlies as well. Knodel has an absolute bomb of a shot from the point and here is hoping the Bears put it to good use and Kessel is already familiar with the club. This gives both more time to showcase their respective talents to Leafs management.

It was fairly obvious at the time that the Marlies were going to send one of their goalies down to Florida especially given that the Bears really only had one on the roster coming into training camp. Although Garret Sparks is heading down first it does seem to be more likely that this is just part of a planned rotation and his injury lead him to pick the proverbial short straw. You should expect to see him back up with the Marlies in a relatively short span of time. Getting all three young goalies significant playing time this year appears to be the focus and having them facing a tonne of shots in real game situations will only bring positive results.

Another relatively positive spin on the situation at least in terms of goalies could well be the play of Antoine Bibeau who greatly impressed not only during the rookie tournament but Maple Leafs camp as well and who has potentially usurped one of either Chris Gibson or the aforementioned Sparks with his recent play. Another positive could be the play of recent addition and former Montreal Canadians prospect Brady Vail who must have impressed the team early on given his remainder on the team. There are also newcomers Brett Findlay and Patrick Watling who are being given a look with the Marlies, which bodes well for the team further stocking the cupboards with legitimate prospects; the recent ECHL assignments are just a by-product of how stuffed the shelves have become.

So there you have it, not quite the doom and gloom demotions that you may have heard recently, more of a calculated shift of young assets that need as much playing time as you can find them. If the Marlies were truly shifting unsuccessful players at the AHL level you can imagine that there would be some veterans going the other way instead. As always, puck for thought.

2014 – 2015 Toronto Marlies Depth Chart Thus Far

The Toronto Marlies will have undergone significantly more change than their parent club this summer as they enter the upcoming season without their former coach, starting goaltender or leading defenseman in terms of points generated for the 2014 – 2015 season. Steve Spott was promoted the the Maple Leafs as an assistant coach, beloved goaltender Drew MacIntyre took a position with the Carolina Hurricanes organization while T.J. Brennan jumped at an opportunity with the New York Islanders for a legitimate chance of playing in the NHL this season. They all departed the organization with nothing but positive things to say and all took positions of growth in their profession so who can really fault them. With the success of those that have left comes opportunity for those who remain.

The Marlies have a considerable number of options going into main camp this year and that includes some of the invitee’s attending the prospect tournament coming up in September. Assistant GM Kyle Dubas may not even be done signing players to further bolster the roster in the coming weeks given the seemingly recent trend of signing longer shot prospects to AHL deals this summer. In no significant order other than my own personal bias, here is the depth chart for the Marlies as of August 19th, 2014 a la Capgeek.com style:

2014 2015 Marlies Depth Chart a la Capgeek.com

2014 2015 Marlies Depth Chart a la Capgeek.com

As you can have most likely deduced from the outline above, there have made some fairly bold predictions made as to who will make the Maple Leafs out of training camp this coming fall given the player breakdown in the depth chart.

I strongly believe that one of either Petter Granberg or Korbinian Holzer will join the squad as a 7th defenseman this season and actually leaning a little more towards Holzer; the reasoning essentially being two fold. Holzer is in the last year of his contract and will be a UFA at the end of the year; if he cannot make the Maple Leafs out of camp given that he is now 26 as much as I hate to admit it, it may serve the player and the club better if he is placed on waivers and given an opportunity to catch on with another club. The second is that although he did not perform as well as we would have hoped for in his NHL debut, fans tend to forget that the Leafs paired Holzer with Dion Phaneuf, as a rookie no less, playing against most of our oppositions top lines. Sheltered minutes on a third pairing would have given him a much better chance to acclimatize himself to the NHL game and here is hoping he is given that important second shot to prove some of his critics wrong. Who is also to say that another year of seasoning for Granberg wouldn’t hurt in the AHL as Holzer really is at a make it or break it crossroads in his career and you could always bring Granberg up if Holzer falters.

Peter Holland was another choice, even with the glut of serviceable centermen and the fact that he will require waivers to be sent down to the Marlies, he will ultimately make the Maple Leafs out of training camp this year in my opinion given his significant upside over some of the other available options. Unfortunately Trevor Smith, Carter Ashton and Colton Orr in the same breathe may be squeezed out of the roster because of the sheer number of serviceable third and fourth line players available to the team this year. Both Smith and Ashton hopefully will understand that they would very likely be the first call-up’s made if/when injuries occur and between the two of them provide great depth to the organization overall. You can imagine that Ashton would most likely be fairly frustrated if this occurs but hopefully he will come to understand that this is an opportunity in itself to express to management just how mature of a player he has become and embrace the significant leadership role with the Marlies that he will most certainly take on. He will very likely be counted upon significantly in all important situations this year and could further his stock by leading a young Marlies roster by example. At only 23 years old, he has plenty of time to play in the NHL and continuing to prove that he can be a consistent contributor and counted upon defensively could very well lead to being the first player called up and an even more difficult one to send down.

Make no mistake, I for one would also not be surprised if Colton Orr is claimed if the team places him on waivers for the purpose of removing his salary from the cap and sending him to the minors if indeed the team decides to go with Troy Bodie moving forward. Orr is still very much one of the most talented at his trade left in the NHL and at 6’3″ 222lbs could provide the security and confidence for a team lacking someone of his aforementioned skills. If he does go unclaimed, as a Marlies fan, he provides exactly the same thing to that team, a significant presence along with Fraser McLaren whom could create a fair amount of comfort for one of the youngest squads in the AHL with a solid one two punch ahhh sort of speak.

Either way the above works out, the Marlies defensive core has plenty of depth this year and a number of decisions to be made. It will be very interesting to see who makes the opening roster given that you have the likes of Matt Finn joining the group this year as a rookie and former captain of the Memorial Cup contending Guelph Storm who will have something to prove as one of the Leafs more highly touted defensive prospects. Tom Nilsson and Victor Loov are very likely going to make their North American debuts this year and Loov was highly praised during the prospect camp so it is quite plausible that he gets a fair shake at ice time. Last but not least you also have Zack Yuen whom had a silent but statistically solid year with the Orlando Solar Bears and may very well be contending for a spot with the Marlies.

Finally a developing tandem of Garret Sparks and Chris Gibson in net who will both now have a legitimate opportunity, after sheltered minutes behind MacIntyre last year, to claim the number one spot with the Marlies. Both have developed fairly well all things considered well in my opinion last year and having MacIntyre was an all important addition to give these young netminders more time to acclimatize to the AHL game. Lets not forget about 6’2, 210lbs, 20 year old Antoine Bibeau either who given the lack of a second goaltender signed to the Orlando Solar Bears squad as of yet may have an opportunity for some fairly significant ice time in Florida while Sparks and Gibson battle it out this year. If either falter, expect Bibeau to join the Marlies promptly.

With all the above being said, when you have an excessive number of bodies in the system it is always good to know that with the extended two year agreement the Marlies have with the Orlando Solar Bears of the ECHL that players can be sent to Florida for ice team and to a quality organization that will continue to provide positive guidance to prospects. Garrett Sparks actually made some phenomenal comments about his time with the Solar Bears that summarize just how important this type of relationship can be:

“It was critical. I went from not being able to handle a league, to being a difference maker in the games that I was in. My time in Orlando was the reason why I was so much better later in the season than I was to start. Every opportunity that I had down in Orlando, I took advantage of it, and the results were instantaneous.” quote via Jeff Veillette @ TheLeafsNation.com

Image courtesy of the Toronto Star

It would also not surprise me in the least if Brad Ross, Tyler Biggs and Bibeau are sent to the Solar Bears to start the season, not so much due to performance as of late or won’t make the Marlies out of training camp but strictly from an overall confidence level standpoint. Specifically Biggs and to some extend Ross, could, in my opinion benefit from it. There has been so much talk about Biggs status as a legitimate prospect rapidly dwindling, as a rookie in the AHL, playing fourth line minutes of all things. Sure he didn’t produce to the lofty expectations place on him given his selection closer to the end of the first round of the draft but to be frank people really need to relax. Prospects, regardless of draft rank all develop at different rates and Leafs nation has been exceptionally harsh on Biggs this past year. He went from college to OHL hockey and then to the AHL; which is plenty of bouncing around and style/system adjustments for any player to endure, regardless of supposed talent level. Then in his rookie year the Marlies were a crowded AHL club with a number of veteran fourth line players with the likes of Staubitz, Smithson and to some extent McLaren all with NHL experience which left very little room, even on rotation that Spott attempted to enforce for Biggs (and other rookies like David Broll) to find a groove.

A pretty decent example of the potential for bounce back to reinforce the train of thought above would be Sam Carrick in his rookie season who spent the majority of his first professional year with the Idaho Steelhead of the ECHL. He was considered by many to be under performing after a fairly successful junior career yet in his sophomore year he became a dependable two way pivot with some scoring touch. Gaining confidence and some degree of stability this season could go a long way to re-energizing Biggs status as a legitimate prospect and here is hope they consider the same route that appears to have worked so well for Carrick and Sparks.

So there you have it, the Marlies and my thoughts for the upcoming season on where members of the squad will end up. They should continue to be a pretty exciting team to watch and hopefully if they can clear up the mess at Union Station in Toronto to make it easier to get to games I will see some of you there. As always, puck for thought.