August 19 2013 08:14AM
Name: David Broll
Position: Left Wing
Hometown: Mississauga, Ontario
Size: 6'3", 235 lbs
2013 teams: Sault-Ste. Marie Greyhounds, Toronto Marlies
Acquired: Draft - 6th round, 2011
We kick off our Top 20 prospects feature with David Broll of the Sault-Ste. Marie Greyhounds rounding up the end of the list. Compiling the list of names for the top twenty players, you begin to realize just how much depth there is organizationally, particularly along the wing position. It's apparent that a few years ago Brian Burke told his scouts to look out especially for big wingers. Just scrolling down the list, I count six guys that fit the profile, and somehow Broll ended up last.
There's no reason for Broll to have a low stock or be considered a No. 20 prospect. He was a 6th round pick in 2011, but was one of two junior players that the Leafs, along with Morgan Rielly, brought from the CHL to their small training camp in advance of the condensed 2013 season. He didn't have a shot at making the team, but the team thought highly enough of him to have him practice for a week with the big club ahead of first rounders Tyler Biggs and Stuart Percy.
On the surface, Broll looks to be a project more than anything, but he'll show up for his first year of professional hockey this season as part of the group of young players to take over the Toronto Marlies. He didn't score a whole lot in junior, capping at 54 points over 67 games with 77 penalty minutes in his 19-year-old season, before going scoreless in 10 games with the Marlies including three playoff appearances.
But for those who know Broll, they don't seem to think he should be typecast as a Jamie Devane-type who is big and nothing else. He was invaluable to the Greyhounds on defence last season.
From Kyle Dubas, general manager of the Greyhounds:
"A lot of people attempt to cast David as solely someone who will make the NHL as a 4th line enforcer, when the truth he was one of our top possession players throughout this past season. David played both centre and wing for our hockey club at times and the majority of his minutes played at even strength came versus the opponents top 6 forwards. His contributions in the offensive end are not always appreciated because his driving of play does not always result in goals, but coming versus the opposition's top players we prefer to play in the offensive zone and David proved to be very reliable in attaining this goal."
When I first sent Dubas a message to solicit a little bit of Broll info, I immediately got the reply "elite possession driver". It's important to note that the Ontario Hockey League is a league for 18- and 19-year-old players, so the bigger kids at the end of their junior development have an obvious advantage. The Greyhounds are a young team whose key players are 1995-born, while Broll is a couple of years older than their core. This meant that he had to be relied on in those defensive situations to do things away from the puck that don't show up on the scoresheet.
Steve Dangle got a couple of questions through to Broll, who said basically all the right things about a player his age. He also mentioned the benefits of being versatile and "not afraid of being tough on other opponents." I think there's a large segment of the population that won't be surprised to learn he compares himself to Milan Lucic of the Boston Bruins, because "he's a guy that can be a tough guy, play on any line and be effective."
Everybody wants to find the next Lucic, and he's not a bad player to emulate for a junior guy, simply because there are about 30 teams that are simultaneously looking for "the next Milan Lucic" even though he's a developmental outlier, cut from a Junior A team at age 15 and passed over in the 2003 WHL bantam draft. Until his offensive breakout during the Giants' Memorial Cup season, nobody saw Lucic himself as the "next MIlan Lucic".
Broll sees himself competing for a shot on the Leafs this season, and while I do think that he has the ability to play in a bottom six role at some point, I think there are some players ahead of him for the two open winger positions on the roster this season, and, as you will note in the upcoming weeks, the Leafs have a tonne of depth in that regard. His case is helped by the fact he is a 6'3", 235-lb behemoth from Mississauga, and if the Leafs are trending towards a certain type of player, he was basically picked in 2011 for the sole purpose at having a shot to crack Randy Carlyle's roster in 2013-2014.
He will, however, probably play the season in the AHL and possibly spend some time in Orlando just because of the competition aspect. With how young the Marlies are expected to be, you may expect him to play some tough defensive minutes like he did in the Soo, taking away from his offensive numbers but being trusted by coach Steve Spott.
One other thing to note… Spott's Kitchener Ranger teams have had fewer fights over the last two seasons than the Greyhounds, and hopefully that relative pacifism influences the way he coaches in the American Hockey League, since Broll is probably much more useful as a hockey player than a guy conditioned to drop the gloves every second game. At three fights last season, Broll wasn't even close to testing the OHL's 10-fight limit although he did manage to have three in the AHL regular season and three in the OHL postseason, where the limits are relaxed.
It will be interesting to see how he is deployed by Spott, since it will show where the organization stands with him and where they project him. He's an interesting project and probably has a wide range of potential as he makes the jump from junior to pro.