The Toronto Maple Leafs have announced their roster for this summer’s development camp, expected to take place between July 4th and 9th at the Mastercard Centre in Toronto and Gale Centre Arena in Niagara Falls. It’s a gigantic, 41 player roster, so let’s break this down bit by bit.
Nine of Toronto’s eleven picks from this years 2016 NHL Entry Draft will be in attendance. Yegor Korshkov and Nikolai Chebykin have KHL camps to attend to, but Auston Matthews, Carl Grundsrom, Joseph Woll, JD Greenway, Adam Brooks, Keaton Middleton, Vladimir Bobylev, Jack Walker, and Nicolas Mattinen will all be around to take part.
As well, the entirety of the 2015 draft class will be in attendance. This includes Mitch Marner, Travis Dermott, Jeremy Bracco, Andrew Nielsen, Martins Dzierkals, Jesper Lindgren, Dmytro Timashov, Stephen Desrocher, and Nikita Korostelev. Joining them will be 2014 draftees Pierre Engvall, Dakota Joshua, JJ Piccinich, and Nolan Vesey, along with 2012 draft pick Dominic Toninato, who can still remain in school for another year should he choose to do so.
The roster also includes five players signed to 2016/17 AHL contracts with the Toronto Marlies in Nikolas Brouillard, Shane Conacher, Mason Marchment, Ty Stanton, and Chase Witala. Stanton is listed as an invite in the press release, but that is likely a typographical error as he signed a 2016/17 contract with the Marlies back in March. College signing Kasimir Kaskisuo, who debuted with the Marlies last year and has an NHL contract will also be in attendance.
To go with this group of Leafs prospects and players of extended affiliation, the Leafs also invited nine skaters and three goalies to the camp. They are as follows:
|Stephen Baylis||6’1||201||21||LW||Bowling State||NCAA||35||9||13||22||10||8|
|Jordan Murray||6’1||170||23||LD||New Brunswick||CIS||27||5||23||28||60|
|Jon Jutzi||6’2||201||25||LD||Minnesota State||NCAA||41||5||10||15||10||2|
Some of these moves are very interesting. For example, Lisov has already played two full seasons in the KHL, which is rare for a 22-year-old defenceman. He played 13 and a half minutes a game this year for Admiral, which isn’t a ton, but in a four-pair league like the KHL, good with age considered. Lysczczarcyk, beyond having one of the hardest names to spell in hockey, was Dmitri Sokolov’s centre in Sudbury and put up very solid numbers for his age. Wong didn’t look great in his three-game stint with the Marlies, but they were his first three pro games. Felhaber produced somewhat decently but had an awful plus-minus, meaning puck luck probably wasn’t in his favour.
That’s not to say that the Leafs have found the next Martin St. Louis or even the next Tyler Bozak here, but there are a couple of players who seem like they’re better prospects than most 7th round picks.
|Anthony Brodeur (G)||5’10||194||21||G||Penticton||BCHL||33||0.931|
|Chris Nell (G)||6’1||179||21||G||Bowling Green||NCAA||37||0.930|
|David Ovsjannikov (G)||6’6||225||19||G||Barrie||OHL||21||0.915|
Goaltending is a little bit more interesting. It’s easy to write Brodeur off as a Lou-driven invite as a courtesy to his father, but despite some awful years in junior, he looked very good in the BCHL this year, finishing third in save percentage. That could be a change in technique, but it could also be due to his age and the quality of his team; backup Zach Driscoll was an even better 0.933. Nell’s numbers intrigue me even further, as he was 10th in the country in save percentage, ahead of Kaskisuo and not far off of Vancouver Canucks “goalie of the future” Thatcher Demko.
Ovsjannikov is the real wild card here. Scouts and goalie coaches are no doubt salivating over the Czech’s size, and he’s the youngest of the three at 19. Like Brodeur, I wonder how much team effects play into his success; he was never above 0.900 before this year, but played in Saginaw. This year, he was Mackenzie Blackwood’s backup on a solid Barrie roster. Maybe he was a good goalie wasted on a bad team. Maybe he’s now a bad goalie propped by a good team. Maybe it’s somewhere in the middle. The Leafs have a few days to get an idea of the truth.
Given the size of Toronto’s organizational pool right now (two NHL goalies, three AHL goalies, one drafted prospect), it wouldn’t be a shock to see one of these three leave camp with an ELC or an AHL contract.
Whatever happens, these players will a few cracks at impressing the brass. Monday will involve media availability followed by three days of practices and two days of scrimmages, and a bunch of activities in between.