A Look at the Maple Leafs Depth Prospects

When the TLN staff got
together and created our Top 20 Prospects list there were a few names that went
voteless. In fact there were 14 players in total that received no consideration
at all.

Does this make them
lesser prospects? Yes.

Does this mean we
shouldn’t talk about them? No, but we’ve waited until we’ve exhausted all of the prospects we have higher expectations of.

So now that we’ve hyped them up, here is today’s group of Depth Prospects…

Tony Cameranesi

Cameranesi is 5th round selection from 2011 that
is now entering his senior year at University of Minnesota-Duluth. After
bursting onto the college scene with 34 point freshman season, Cameranesi put
up just 30 points in junior year.

As a  5’9 22 year old,
Cameranesi certainly falls into the category of long shot prospect, but his
tremendous speed and increased ice time as a senior this season will make him
worth paying at least a little attention to. Cameranesi has always been a
playmaker first and the lack of finishers on UMD may have hurt him. He also seems
to be taking more of a second line role, with fellow Leafs prospect Dominic
Toninato passing him on the depth chart, but not yet in scoring.

Given that the Leafs don’t seem to have issues with smaller
forwards anymore and the current front office has no issue with signing college
seniors it’s likely that Cameranesi will get his shot with the Leafs
organization. Most NCAA forwards who stick around for the full four years
usually don’t wind up with significant NHL careers, but it’s possible that
Cameranesi could carve a out a niche for himself in the Marlies top six as
speed in the AHL is usually quite effective.

Dakota Joshua

I think when TLN made our decision on the top twenty points
were deducted for having a state as a first name and a first name as a last
name because Dakota Joshua could show some promise. If the Leafs hadn’t made
the radical decision to start caring about their future, Joshua might be
considered the organizations promising power forward center.

The 19 year old is 6’3, and definitely needs to add some
weight to that as he’s currently listed at 194 lbs, but Joshua’s physical style
of play and project prospect status will make him a good fit in the NCAA, as he
joins Ohio State as freshman this season.

On the USHL champion Sioux Falls Stampede, Joshua was a 20
goal scorer in 52 games, and he went over a point per game in the playoffs.
None of these numbers are mind blowing as dominance in the USHL is expected of
a strong prospect.

Given the amount of ice time that freshmen typically see it’s
wise to keep expectations relatively low for Joshua this season. The fact that
Ohio State isn’t the strongest program at the moment may help him see more
playing time, but 12 returning forwards stand in his way.

J.J. Piccinich

Fittingly after discussing Joshua and the lack of playing
time for college freshmen we move onto J.J. Piccinich. Like Joshua, Piccinich
was a late round 2014 section who had strong, but not stellar numbers in the
USHL. Unlike Joshua, Piccinich made the jump to the NCAA immediately following
the draft and was buried on a very good Boston University team.

Likely as a result of this, the 5’11 forward is making his
way to the London Knights this season. He’ll still be playing behind a number
of talent players, but not to the extent of what occurred at BU. It seems
likely we’ll see more than 4 points out of him this season.

From
Cat Silverman on Piccinich’s choice to join the Knights:

“With the option to head to the Knights, though, Piccinich
knows that he can carve out a role for himself as a mid-line forward with more
of a defensively responsible game than many OHL players can offer. He’s got
that scoring upside he developed in his draft season, which will give him
enough all around value in London and the experience he gained in the NCAA to
hopefully finish rounding out his game and succeed at the NHL level one day.”

If Piccinich shows any signs of success this season it’s
likely the Leafs will bring him under contract, though it’s just as likely
he’ll return to the CHL in 2016-17 as an overager as rushing Piccinich to the
pro ranks doesn’t seem to be a priority for the Leafs. A good measure of
success for Piccinich would be if he can duplicate his USHL numbers in the OHL,
and if he’s able to improve upon his near point per game pace then it seems
we’ll have reason to be more excited about J.J. the next time we’re ranking
prospects.

Fabrice Herzog

In our last round of depth prospects we had three forwards
that left me with a sense that they all had the potential to come out of
nowhere and make us feel like idiots for not ranking them higher. That’s not
the case with Fabrice Herzog, who was highly thought of in our 2013 and 2014
rankings, but after a rough year in the Swiss League seems to be forgettable.

In the Swiss Elite-A league Herzog was a nearly a goal per
game player leading to his draft selection. He followed that up with nearly a
point per game pace in the QMJHL, which made it seem like the Leafs had a
potential 6’2 scoring winger in their system. Last season Fabrice had 9 points
in 43 games as a 20 year old and the bubble has burst.

It seems unlikely that Herzog would want to leave his
homeland for a lengthy stint in the AHL, and it seems equally unlikely that the
Leafs will put in much effort in persuading him to return to North America. Of
course writing off 20 year olds for one bad season isn’t practical either, and
if Herzog suddenly tears up the Swiss League we’ll quickly change our tune.

Pierre Engvall

Ol’ unlucky Pierre, he’s the appropriate end to Dave Nonis’
drafting career. The 6’4 forward seems to have been selected primarily for his
size, and while being a nearly point per game player in the second tier Swedish
league didn’t seem bad in his draft year, his failure to make the jump to the
Swedish Hockey League last season leaves him pretty forgettable.

Engvall did get a couple of games in for Frolunda, last
season, but didn’t register a point. As a call-up in a lower scoring league
that really shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. Engvall managed 51 points in
38 games for Frolunda’s Junior team, a total good enough to be second in the
league in scoring, so there is some sun coming from behind those clouds.

If Engvall is able to hold down a regular shift in the
Swedish Hockey League it’s possible that he could find his way back into
consideration. The Leafs have restocked nicely on smaller skilled forwards, but
are still lacking in the bigger net presence players who are capable of offence
beyond having pucks bounce of them. Engvall is truly a long shot, but the Leafs
have excelled with finding Swedish long shots that pan out, but right now it
doesn’t seem that Pierre is one of them.

Christopher Gibson

After exclusively discussing forwards so far in regards to
the depth prospects, it’s time to finally look at a goaltender.  Christopher Gibson won my heart after being
shelled in the World Juniors, and when the Kings parted with him I thought the
Leafs found gold.

The numbers that Gibson has put up for the Marlies have been
solid as well, he’s not blowing anyone away, but .921 Save Percentage in any
league is a good thing. His playoff numbers, not so much, but arguably the
Leafs wouldn’t have been there without Gibson picking up the slack for Bibeau
in the second half of the season.

The thing with Gibson is that at 22 he’s established looking
serviceable at the AHL level, but hasn’t really dominated so much that anyone
would feel comfortable slotting him in as a backup if one of the Leafs two NHL
goaltenders were traded. He’s certainly a guy that you don’t mind as an
emergency recall, but he needs another strong year and like Sparks or Bibeau,
needs to establish himself as the number one guy.

Petter Granberg

Granberg seems like a relic of the Burke era, and not
surprisingly that has left many of us with a positive outlook for him. Petter
is the traditional stay at home defenceman that is becoming an increasingly
underwhelming role to fill.

Strong positional play mean very little without the ability
to at least move the puck up the ice, and Granberg has not been able to figure
that out at the AHL level and seems to be following a similar path to Korbinian
Holzer.

Granberg is probably getting his last look from the Leafs
this season and may simply be filling the role of NHL depth call up so other
prospects get a more consistent opportunity to develop on the Marlies. If
Granberg is able to keep up in the NHL it’s entirely possible he will be
renewed in his role on a year by year basis.