Sometimes we have difficulty determining what a “prospect” really is. Here at TLN, when we roll out our prospect rankings and whatnot, of course we have to draw the lines somewhere. But outside of that we often find ourselves discussing when a player stops becoming a future and just, well, is what he is.
This especially starts to come to mind when we talk about players plying their trade in the AHL. For example, the running joke among a lot of Leafs fans for years was how Matt Frattin continued to be looked at as a potential 30-goal NHLer even up into his mid-twenties. He’s now 28-years-old and still plugging away in the minors, the chances of him ever becoming a full-time NHL player basically finished.
Then on the other end of all this we have the Mike Hoffmans and P-A Parenteaus of the world, guys who chipped away in the American league putting up solid totals for a long while after junior, before finally breaking in to the NHL to put up comparable numbers, never looking back.
As we look ahead to the Leafs’ deadline deals and another big summer, we continue to look at how many draft picks they can accumulate. But perhaps there could be targets out there who fit that more drawn out timeline we mentioned, like Parenteau. After all, the Leafs have shown they’ll look anywhere to fill the cupboards that have been so bare in recent years.
Last week when ESPN released some of their trade deadline preview material, they outlined potential incoming and outgoing assets from each team in the division (Paywall). One player they mentioned the Leafs could potentially target was Alexander Khokhlachev of the Bruins’ affiliate in Providence. It’s unclear whether there was anything tangible behind it or it was just spitballing, but either way, that’s a name that could make sense for Toronto.
Khokhlachev was drafted by the Bruins in the 2011 draft and has yet to really get a look at the NHL level, never sticking for more than a handful of games. Meanwhile he’s been producing at a high rate in the AHL for nearly three full seasons now, notching 141 points in 165 games since 2013. If he isn’t going to be part of Boston’s plans, the Leafs have the pieces to make a play for him, both in the short term with UFAs for this year’s playoff run and in the longterm with a boatload of late-round picks.
But Khokhlachev is just one name, and really this is more about the Leafs’ line of thinking when it comes to adding to their organizational depth.
As we mentioned, Toronto is loaded with picks this year and we expect them to add even more, but picking 13-15 times in this draft seems a bit ridiculous. In some cases, nabbing a prospect who’s fallen out of favour a little with another organization or is in an unfortunate logjam at their position might make more sense.
I did a quick review of some of the better young scorers in the AHL who’ve been grinding along for a few seasons in the minors, and there are some other names out there who might fit this bill as well, like the Wings’ Martin Frk or Brock McGinn of the Canes (both drafted in 2012), for example.
You aren’t going to get these players for just a simple rental, especially in the case of a high scorer like Khokhlachev, but the teams on the other side might just be looking for picks thrown in to hit a reset button. The Leafs want as many lottery tickets as they can get, but it won’t hurt to continue to diversify and add some of the older variety.