Get to know every invite to Maple Leafs development camp
Photo credit:Niagara IceDogs
By Kyle Cushman8 months ago
The Toronto Maple Leafs finally announced their development camp roster earlier today, and as per usual, there are a bunch of very intriguing invites.
Undrafted free agency is an excellent way to supplement your prospect pool when you don’t have many draft picks. While the Leafs did draft five times this year and they are close to the 50 contract limit, there are numerous prospects that would be worthwhile bets to be signed to an entry-level contract while they are eligible to do so.
Firstly, the invites have been separated into two groups: those in the CHL and those on the path to the NCAA.
Players in the CHL can sign as undrafted free agents, regardless of their age (as long as they have been eligible for an NHL draft), until the start of the new CHL season. This is how the Leafs signed @Braeden Kressler last year, or how Philadelphia landed @Philippe Myers and @Egor Zamula in the past.
NCAA players, on the hand, don’t have it quite as easy. If they sign an NHL contract, they forego their NCAA eligibility. While we have seen it in the past when the Leafs signed @Trevor Moore out of development camp despite him still having NCAA eligibility left, it is a rare thing to see. If Toronto signs someone out of camp, it is likely a CHL player.
Without further delay, let’s dive into every invite to the Maple Leafs development camp.
Sam Alfano, RW, Peterborough
A 6-foot-3 right-winger out of Peterborough, Alfano scored 13 goals and 25 points in 65 games during his rookie season in the OHL. He was first-time draft eligible for the 2022 draft and was ranked #300 on the consolidated board, coming in on just one ranking: #195 by Future Considerations.
Statistically, the only thing that stands out was Alfano’s shot generation. He’s a long shot to be signed.
Rayan Bettahar, LHD, Swift Current
Rayan Bettahar is a 6-foot-2 left-shot defenceman who was actually born in Poland, though he has played in the German hockey system and represents Germany internationally.
Bettahar made the jump to the WHL this year with Swift Current, where he scored 15 points in 63 games. He also appeared for Germany at the World U18s, scoring two assists in four games.
First time eligible in 2022, Bettahar was #421 on the consolidated board and was only ranked once, #274 by Larry Fisher.
Marco Costantini, G, Hamilton
Marco Costantini is coming off of a strong season backstopping the OHL champion Hamilton Bulldogs, posting a .917 save percentage in the regular season and a .913 SV% in the OHL playoffs.
The 6-foot-1 netminder has been passed over in two drafts now, despite being ranked #229 on the consolidated board and landing on two rankings:
- #118, Larry Fisher
- #128, Matthew Zator
He has one more year of junior eligibility remaining.
Pano Fimis, C, Niagara
The second overall pick in the 2020 OHL Priority Selection, it was surprising to see Pano Fimis go undrafted last week.
As an OHL rookie, Fimis scored 44 points in 54 games and was ranked fairly highly by numerous public rankings, as high as #48 by Elite Prospects. This made him the third highest ranked prospect to go undrafted based on the consolidated board.
Fimis had a strong assist rate, was heavily involved in Niagara’s even strength scoring, and had a positive impact on their goal share. But he was also blown out of the water by teammate and Sharks prospect Danil Gushchin and had poor defensive results.
That being said, the 5-foot-11 pivot is an excellent playmaker that is among the top candidates to be signed out of camp.
Avery Hayes, RW, Hamilton
Back to the OHL champion Hamilton Bulldogs, winger Avery Hayes had a season to remember as a DY+1 prospect.
Hayes scored an impressive 41 goals and 79 points in 66 regular season games, before going off in the playoffs. He scored 14 goals and 34 points in just 16 playoff games but still went undrafted as a re-entry player. He was ranked #245 on the consolidated board and landed on four public rankings, but low on each of them.
The 5-foot-10 winger is a 2002 birthdate, meaning he would be eligible to step right into the AHL/ECHL if he were to sign with the Leafs. He does have another year of junior eligibility, so an AHL contract seems unlikely.
Beau Jelsma, LW, Barrie
The second highest ranked player on the consolidated list to go undrafted, Beau Jelsma’s speed and two-way game weren’t enough to see him get drafted. He scored 27 goals and 47 points in 68 games with Barrie, ranking #93 on the consolidated list and as high as #65 on Smaht Scouting’s ranking.
Jelsma is among the top candidates to be signed, though there are concerns over his lack of shot generation and high shooting percentage. His two-way game is good and Jelsma has the speed and retrieval skill to be an interesting complementary piece down the road.
Kasper Larsen, LHD, Mississauga
Kasper Larsen is one of the more fascinating prospects at the development camp. The giant 6-foot-6, 231-pound Danish defenceman came over to the OHL for his DY+1 season and had a solid year, scoring 43 points in 57 games with Mississauga.
Despite this, Mississauga rescinded Larsen’s rights heading into the Import Draft, leaving him without a team for 2022-23. As a 2022 birthdate, Larsen would be eligible for the AHL/ECHL immediately, and I think he’s a prime candidate to join the organization on a contract with the Marlies.
As a massive player, skating is always a concern and will need to be worked on, but there are raw skills there. Larsen had a strong assist rate, showing that he has an ability to move the puck, and had superb defensive results as well. With a big shot from the point, Larsen was also a surprisingly good powerplay quarterback as well.
Sean McGurn, C, London
Few players had as massive a jump in production from the 2019-20 OHL season to the return to action in 2021-22 as London’s Sean McGurn.
After scoring three points in 38 games as a fourth liner, McGurn returned with London this past season to centre their top line, scoring 73 points in 66 games alongside Nashville top prospect, @Luke Evangelista.
As a DY+2, McGurn had solid numbers all around, but not quite enough to entice a contract. He had a high assist rate, but a significant amount of which were secondary. McGurn has one more year of junior eligibility.
Marcus Nguyen, RW, Portland
It was unlikely that Marcus Nguyen would be drafted, as a 5-foot-10 winger who played a third-line role in the WHL, but the Calgary native has a fascinating profile. He was ranked #148 on the consolidated board, as high as #77 by Will Scouch.
Despite playing such a minimal role for Portland, Nguyen scored 22 goals and 40 points in 68 games, ranking highly in many per 60 statistics. His even-strength production carried the way, as Nguyen saw limited minutes on the man advantage.
As one of the younger prospects eligible for the 2022 draft, with an August 2004 birthdate, Nguyen has big breakout potential in the WHL next year and is another top candidate to be signed come the end of camp.
Michael Renwick, RHD, Windsor
Despite scoring just 29 points in 67 games, Michael Renwick’s stats may deceive you. With powerplay minutes going to Louka Henault, Renwick was an impressive even strength scorer this year in the OHL as a DY+2.
Renwick is barely still eligible for the OHL as a January 2002 birthdate and would be eligible for the AHL/ECHL if he were to sign with the Marlies. He would be foregoing a final year of junior eligibility if he were to do so, however.
Grayden Siepmann, RHD, Calgary
A 5-foot-11 right-shot defenceman out of the WHL, Grayden Siepmann had a fairly average draft year with Calgary. He scored 25 points in 66 games and had decent, but unremarkable metrics across the board.
He impressed in a limited sample at the U18s with Canada, scoring three points in three games and posting a +5 rating. According to Mitch Brown’s tracked data, Siepmann did rank well as a transitional defender, both in exiting and entering the zone with control.
As Toronto has not drafted a defenceman since 2020, I would imagine their preference would be for a defenceman to stand out at camp and sign them, over another diminutive winger. Siepmann is among the top options in that regard. He was ranked #141 on the consolidated board and as high as #94 by Peter Baracchini.
Noah Van Vliet, LHD, Hamilton
A third member of the OHL champion Hamilton Bulldogs to get an invite to camp, Noah Van Vliet is a bit of a strange one. He spent time in the NAHL and OJHL before joining Hamilton for 11 regular season games and their postseason run, scoring two points across 28 games. He’s 6-foot-2 and was first-time eligible in 2022, but I don’t have much else on Van Vliet.
Mathew Ward, LW, Swift Current
A second member of the Swift Current Broncos to be invited to camp, Mathew Ward had a good scoring season in the WHL as a draft eligible. He racked up 22 goals and 57 points in 64 games, leading his team in scoring, but as a 5-foot-8 winger, still went undrafted. He was ranked #117 on the consolidated list and as high as #74 by Draft Prospects Hockey.
Ward was a better powerplay scorer than at even strength, though playing on a bad team, he still ranked fairly high relative to his team. His on-ice goal share was nothing spectacular either. We do know that Toronto values players’ DY-1 seasons, Ward was also a near-point per-game player in the abbreviated 2020-21 season.
Mathieu De St. Phalle, RW, Wisconsin
It isn’t much of a surprise to see former Chicago Steel forward Mathieu De St. Phalle get an invite to the Maple Leafs development camp. A top scorer for Ryan Hardy and Greg Moore back in the USHL, De St. Phalle had a bit of a breakout year for Wisconsin as a sophomore, scoring 10 goals and 22 points in 36 games to lead the team in both categories.
With two more years of NCAA eligibility and slightly above-average results, though, I doubt De St. Phalle is looking to leave Wisconsin.
Tyler Duke, LHD, USNTDP
The Maple Leafs passed on Lane Hutson in the draft, but have invited his marginally bigger teammate in Tyler Duke to camp. The 5-foot-9 left-shot defenceman wasn’t a big scorer with the USNTDP, scoring 18 points in 54 games, but was a key member of their top four lining up alongside Seamus Casey.
Finishing with a +60 rating (!), Duke dominated opponents when he was on the ice with the USNTDP against secondary competition. He’s committed to Ohio State, but does have his OHL rights owned by Saginaw if he were to sign, which I would characterize as very unlikely.
Rastislav Elias, G, Green Bay
A 6-foot-3 goaltender born in Hungary, Rastislav Elias played in the Slovakian system prior to coming over to the USHL and represents Slovakia internationally. With Green Bay, Elias’ numbers were…not good. He had a .864 SV% in 20 games as the backup.
Elias has been the starting goaltender for the Slovakian 2004 age group, winning silver at the 2021 Hlinka Gretzky Cup. He had a .891 SV% in five games at that tournament. He also backstopped Slovakia to the 2022 U18 D1A tournament victory, posting a .914 SV% to get Slovakia promoted to the elite tournament once again.
Dylan & Ty Jackson, Northeastern
Twin brothers that are both transferring to Arizona State, Dylan and Ty Jackson had strong USHL careers before joining Northeastern two years ago.
Dylan, a right-winger, has yet to make much of an impact in the NCAA, scoring 17 points over 29 games in his two seasons. He’s a transfer with upside for Arizona State given his previous success in the USHL.
Ty is the one with more success in the NCAA. Listed at just 5-foot-8 and 161 pounds, Ty had a similarly strong USHL tenure with Dubuque but has seen it translate to more success in the NCAA. Ty scored 20 points in 28 games this year with Northeastern, primarily coming at even-strength, and will be a major offensive pickup for Arizona State this year.
Ryan McAllister, LW, Brooks
Ryan McAllister had an absolutely silly offensive season in the AJHL this year as a twice undrafted prospect.
The 5-foot-10 winger out of London scored 57 goals and 139 points in just 60 games with Brooks, adding another 29 points in 13 playoff games. It was a hilariously good year for McAllister and a huge jump from his 13 points in 20 games the previous season.
He’s committed to Western Michigan.
Duncan Ramsay, LHD, Kimball Union Academy
Duncan Ramsay out of Halifax played last year in the US High School system with Kimball Union Academy, scoring 27 points in 33 games from the blueline. He is a future commit to Vermont, but will be heading to the BCHL with Chilliwack next year.
At 6-foot-4, he’s got plenty of size, but was not ranked on any public rankings heading into the 2022 draft.
G T.J. Semptimphelter, Northeastern
The third Northeastern transfer heading to Arizona State, T.J. Semptimphelter was fantastic filling in for Devon Levi when the Sabres’ top prospect was at the Olympics with Canada. He posted a .934 save percentage in eight appearances with Northeastern and is looking to parlay that showing into a starting gig with Arizona State.
An average-sized goaltender at 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, Semptimphelter is going to be a goaltender a lot of people keep an eye on this year as a breakout candidate with ASU.
Jeremy Wilmer, C, Tri-City
The final invite is arguably the most fun. Jeremy Wilmer annihilated the USHL this year as a DY+1, scoring 25 goals and 98 points in 60 games to lead the league in scoring.
The issue? He’s listed at 5-foot-7 and 141 pounds.
The diminutive pivot was a playmaking and zone entry machine in the USHL, building on his already impressive draft year campaign with the USNTDP. It will be fascinating to see how he transitions to a higher level when he joins Boston University in the fall. I will note his OHL rights are owned by Ottawa if he were to sign, but that is an unlikely scenario.
Finally, here are my top ten candidates to be signed out of the development camp:
- Kasper Larsen (AHL contract)
- Pano Fimis
- Beau Jelsma
- Mathew Ward
- Grayden Siepmann
- Marcus Nguyen
- Avery Hayes
- Marco Costantini
- Michael Renwick (AHL contract)
- Sam Alfano
And the NCAA-bound players, ranked by most likely to sign and forego their collegiate eligibility to least. I will note, all of them seem quite unlikely to sign:
- Mathieu De St. Phalle
- Jeremy Wilmer
- Tyler Duke
- Ty Jackson
- Dylan Jackson
- T.J. Semptimphelter
- Ryan McAllister
- Rastislav Elias
- Duncan Ramsay
Statistics from Elite Prospects and Pick224
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- Maple Leafs prospect Fraser Minten added to Team Canada’s World Junior summer camp roster by Kyle Cushman
- What do the Toronto Maple Leafs have in Fraser Minten? by Kyle Cushman
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