The Toronto Maple Leafs rookie tournament begins this upcoming Friday in London, Ontario – and while fans have been looking forward to a few of the bigger names featured, some minor changes are worth keeping an eye on.
Per the team’s final release of the rookie tournament roster, recently acquired NCAA alum Zach Hyman has been deleted from the tournament roster less than a week before the games were set to begin. Instead, two players have been added to the tournament roster that weren’t on it before — 21 year old KHL forward Nikolai Skladnichenko and WHL forward Scott Eansor. Skladnichenko is a recent AHL signee with the Leafs organization.
— Toronto Marlies (@TorontoMarlies) July 23, 2015
Skladnichenko is an intriguing name to see on the list. He once played 42 games (putting up 50 points) in a season in the GMHL (junior A), but returned to Russia following those games — and outside of reports from Novokuznetsk Metallurg, there isn’t a whole lot of information about the forward prospect. He’s described as having a fairly hard wrist shot, and he’s been spending some time in the KHL over the last handful of seasons — in 16 regular season games with Metallurg during the 2014-2015 campaign, Skladnichenko recorded four goals and an assist with heavily limited on-ice minutes — but he’s still a bit of an unknown commodity.
He attended the team’s prospect development camp earlier this summer, so it’s good to see that the team was high enough on the Russian centre/winger to bring him back.
Scott Eansor, on the other hand, should be a familiar name for WHL fans. He skated in a middle six role with the Seattle Thunderbirds last year, recording 14 goals and 37 points in 74 games with the club.
The 5 foot 9 forward is a left shot centreman, although don’t be surprised if Toronto tries him out on the wing at his size — and with his scrappy play, it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t succeed at some level in that kind of role. The 19 year old Colorado native is considered a bit of a sleeper, expected to have a growing impact in the coming years as he makes his way onto the radar for those who don’t know his name yet.
Eansor proved to be an absolute workhorse in the major juniors. His size is his biggest obstacle to overcome, but he’s a part of the growing trend of solid two-way forwards who offer quirky annoyance and defensive play to go with energized offense and a strong work ethic. Don’t expect to see Eansor shoving any of the biggest billed names aside, but don’t be surprised if he impresses at the tournament, either.
So far, there is no word on why Hyman won’t be attending the rookie tournament.
For The Leafs Nation’s initial report on the tournament, click here.