Leafs Prospect Update: March 4th, 2013

The Toronto Maple Leafs put pen to paper on one of their top forward prospects last night, signing Kitchener Rangers winger Josh Leivo to a 3-year entry level contract. Drafted in the 3rd round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Leivo has gone from ‘long shot’ to ‘future pro’ pretty damn quick.

A little bit of backstory… Leivo was drafted in the 11th round of the 2009 OHL Priority Draft, wasn’t even ranked in NHL Central Scouting’s final 2011 list, and still got drafted in the top 100 at the 2011 NHL Draft… Not bad.

For those who haven’t had a chance to see him, Leivo is a 6’2, 180lb winger with good feet, good hands, and a good two-way game. Where he slots into an pro roster however depends on whether his offense can translate against better competition (groundbreaking analysis, I know).

In 57 games this season, Leivo has 26 goals and 66 points.

If you feel like being facetious, Tyler Biggs has only 49 points in 57 games, and was drafted two rounds ahead of Leivo in the same year.

MOVING ON.

Moose Jaw’s Morgan Rielly had two assists in an exciting 5-4 OT win over the Saskatoon on Sunday night, breaking the Blades’ 18-game winning streak. 

Just skip to 5:13 of this video and enjoy the chaos. Also, someone get Moose Jaw’s play-by-play guy a glass of water.

Tony Cameranesi had two goal and two assists in two wins over Alabama-Huntsville this past weekend. Cameranesi is now one point back of first in the WCHA Freshman Scoring race with two regular season games to go against Nebraska Omaha.

Garret Sparks made 39 saves on 41 shots in a 4-2 Guelph win over Sudbury on Sunday, earning his 33rd win of the season (second to Oshawa’s Daniel Altshuller’s 34 wins). Through 54 games, Sparks is sporting a 2.59 GAA and .918 SV%.

In ex-Leaf prospect news, Josh Nicholls signed a three-year entry level contract with the New York Rangers yesterday. Nicholls was originally drafted by Toronto in the 7th round, 182nd overall in 2010, and despite scoring 228 points in 192 games since then, the Leafs opted not to sign him. 

 

  • MaxPower417

    Hey a suggestion if I can and questions I had after treading this.

    What would be good is to know if Leivo or Nicholls has more upside? That is, did the leafs make a the right personnel choice. And also is Biggs destined to be an oversized soup can on skates or does he have some higher upside? Also for these players – what are their styles – grinders, skilled scorers etc.

    • First… I’m not a scout, but I’ve got a basic understanding of the sport of ice hockey and I watch a little OHL hockey every now and again.

      Leivo has the higher upside over Nicholls, easily. Lots has been said about Nicholls’ point production, but there’s plenty of question marks in his game, especially concerning his skating. Leivo was drafted higher, which shouldn’t mean much at all, but the fact remains there’s a higher pedigree there. Leivo, in my opinion, has a good shot at being an NHLer. Nicholls doesn’t get the same benefit of the doubt… he’ll likely need plenty of ECHL/AHL season before he makes the NHL (IF he makes the NHL).

      Now, Tyler Biggs. This is a guy who gets a lot of flack, not necessarily for the player he is, but because the Leafs traded two relatively high picks to move up and grab him. Those picks turned out to be two pretty good prospects in themselves (Anaheim’s Rickard Rakell and John Gibson). It is important to note that Biggs was expected to be drafted in the 20-30 range, and he was. It’s not like the Leafs reached to get him, but they did make moves in order to do so.

      Biggs is big, strong, has a two-way game, and will in all likelihood become an NHL player. However, his offensive instincts aren’t top notch. If he does put up points at the NHL level, it will likely be a bunch of garbage goals earned by standing infront of the net while two much more skilled players run the offense. In my eyes, the criticisms Biggs faces are blown out of proportion, but are based on real concerns over his limited offensive game.

      So, to review… Leivo is a two-way winger with some offensive upside. Biggs is a two-way winger with some (limited) offensive upside.

      It’s entirely possible they end up on a third line together some day.