Here’s something we (or at least I) often struggle with when doing our annual prospect rankings: Looking at a player and weighing out their floor and upside. For example, a new late round pick with a lot of skill presents as boom-or-bust scenario, and the idea is if they hit, they hit in a big way. Compare that to another prospect who’s a little further down the road and we have a better sense of, but looks to max out as a bottom-six forward at the NHL level.
Sometimes it’s tough to decide on who’s really the “better” prospect in these cases, but I can say that 22-year-old Trevor Moore appears to be the latter of these two examples. I truly believe Moore’s chances of at least getting a stint in the NHL are relatively high, and could come sooner than later. Whether that’s with the Leafs, who are jammed with forwards throughout the organization, obviously remains to be seen.
Megan Kim: 8
Evan Presement: 20
Bobby Cappuccino: 16
Brayden Engel: 17
Dylan Fremlin: 14
Ryan Fancey: 10
Ryan Hobart: 11
Scott Maxwell: 16
Shawn Reis: Unranked
Jon Steitzer: 12
Hayley Hendren: 13
Adam Laskaris: Unranked
An undrafted college player, Moore was a development camp invite last year after his final season at University of Denver, and with a strong showing where he showed some nice flashes alongside Mitch Marner and Adam Brooks, he eventually worked his way into an entry-level contract with the Leafs.
Being passed over in the draft, Moore was pretty clearly overlooked due to his size – he’s listed at 5’10 and 174 pounds – but his numbers at every level have been solid. It’s worth noting that his production at Denver was even better than Tyler Bozak’s, and I think we’d consider Bozak one of the better college free agent successes in the last decade (even if we are tough on him a lot of the time).
|2013-14||U. of Denver||NCHC||42||14||18||32||14|
|2014-15||U. of Denver||NCHC||39||22||22||44||7|
|2015-16||U. of Denver||NCHC||40||11||33||44||8|
Moore’s production at the AHL level is no joke, especially for his 21-year-old season. He was sixth among Marlies forwards in total points, and his points-per-game pace was similar to that of Andreas Johnsson, who most would predict to be knocking on the door with the Leafs very soon.
The Eye Test
At the end of the Marlies’ season, Sheldon Keefe was asked about which players he felt took the biggest leaps over the course of the entire schedule:
We talk about improvement from the start of the season. The guys I look at are Timashov and Moore. Those are two young first-year players that early in the season really struggled. A lot of it was through lack of opportunity. All of a sudden, going from top players on other teams to now the reality of playing lower in the lineup and really having to struggle for your minutes and compete for your minutes and be good defensively, I think a lot of that caught them off guard. They were not close, frankly, but they stuck with it and when injuries happened and they got more opportunity they showed they were ready for it and took advantage of those opportunities and were better players because of that down the stretch. When Kapanen, Leipsic and these guys come back in the lineup, they get shuffled down a little bit and I thought they were better players because of that. I think they leave now with a much better understanding of what it takes to play every single day and to be reliable and competitive. Those guys stand out in terms of improvement.
When you factor in this slow start, Moore’s production overall as an AHL rookie becomes particularly impressive. But what about his playing style? I mentioned that his ceiling, in my opinion, was as a bottom-six player in the NHL, but that doesn’t mean he’s a pure grinder by any means.
Here’s what his former coach at Denver had to say about Moore a couple years back:
He has an extremely creative and dynamic mind — creating being his vision, finding teammates all over the ice, and dynamic how many times he beats people in the corner and off the rush. He’s not a guy who just beats you with speed, but going east and west too.
As Seen on TV
It’s most likely Moore goes back to the Marlies after training camp to build on that improvement from 2016-17 that Keefe talked about. As a more established player right from opening night this time around, I’d expect his production to grow at least slightly, and he’ll be more of a go-to option as the team makes up for losing their most gifted offensive player, in Kapanen, to the big club.
For a player the Leafs got for nothing but a SPC slot, even if Moore caps out as a really good AHL player, bringing him aboard was worth it – he’s essentially found money. But with such an aggressive style that can translate well to the pro game, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he builds on last year’s production and gives the Leafs a lot to think about in 2018-19.
Also in this series:
#20: Nikolai Chebykin
#19: Victor Bobylyov
#18: Jesper Lindgren
#17: Justin Holl
#16: J.D Greenway
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