With the CHL playoffs underway, it's as good a time as any to take a look back at the season that was. The Leafs have a few prospects that could have deep playoff runs, or as some may call it, "experience they won't need when they make it to the NHL." There were a few Leafs prospects who had quite a turbulent season; here's how they all did:
Stuart Percy, D, Mississauga Majors - 1st round, 25th overall in 2011
It was a tough year for the Leafs' latest first rounder. The captain of the Majors played in just 34 games after taking one scary hit in October and another in December. He's been strong when in the lineup, though, with 25 points and a team-best +18 on the season. He's healthy now, and will lead his sixth-seeded Majors into the playoffs against Barrie.
Greg McKegg, C, London Knights - 3rd round, 62nd overall in 2010
McKegg likely had the most polarized season of anyone in the OHL. He spent the first half of the year with an absolutely putrid squad in Erie, by far the worst squad in the CHL with just ten wins on the season. He was rescued at the deadline by a trade to London, who finished atop the OHL standings and are poised for a deep playoff run and possibly a berth in the Memorial Cup. McKegg finished top-20 in OHL scoring with 75 points in 65 games, but his pace with the Knights would have put him around 93 points over a full season. London draws Windsor in the first round.
Jamie Devane, LW, Plymouth Whalers - 3rd round, 68th overall in 2009
In a somewhat surprising move, Devane was returned to junior for his over-age season, something of a rarity for drafted players. He finished last season strongly so an up-tick in offensive production was expected, especially as a physically dominant over-ager. He was no revelation, but 23 goals and 45 points in 59 games isn't shabby for an enforcer. He had just six fights this season as it's tough to find a dance partner when you're one of the biggest and oldest players in the league, but he can still throw ‘em:
Ty Bilcke vs Jamie Devane (via JimKorn20)
Sondre Olden, RW, Erie Otters - 3rd round, 79th overall in 2010
While McKegg was thrown a life preserver, Olden wasn't so lucky. He played out the string with the Otters after returning from a couple of early season injuries. He finished with 32 points in 48 games in his first season in North America. He has joined the Marlies and will likely remain there next season rather than returning to the OHL as an over-ager.
Josh Leivo, LW, Sudbury Wolves - 3rd round, 86th overall in 2011
Leivo was something of a pleasant surprise this year. He more than doubled his production from last season, going from 30 points to 73 this season. I haven't seen any of him this season so I can't say how much he's benefitted from playing with the league's top scorer, Michael Sgarbossa. His Wolves are taking on Brampton in the first round.
Sam Carrick, C, Brampton Battalion - 5th round, 144th overall in 2010
Carrick is another player who took a big step forward in terms of production, with 37 goals and 67 points in 68 games this year to lead the Battalion in scoring. He also represented the OHL in the Subway Super Series, the closest resemblance of an all-star game for the league. Carrick is in his age-19 season so he could potentially be a Marlie next year.
David Broll, LW, Soo Greyhounds - 6th round, 152nd overall in 2011
Broll didn't take any tangible step forward, points-wise, with the Soo this year. His 33 points was one fewer than last season, albeit in fewer games. He's no scorer, but he's a big kid who's willing to chuck knuckles. Good enough for a 6th rounder. The Greyhounds just missed out on a playoff spot this year, and Broll has since reported to the Marlies.
Garret Sparks, G, Guelph Storm - 7th round, 190th overall in 2011
Sparks had a solid regular season, finishing with a .907 save percentage and five shutouts, good for a tie for fourth spot in the OHL. In other words, call him up. He's currently the biggest reason that seventh-seeded Guelph has Plymouth against the ropes in their first round series, leading 2-0 thanks to his .931 sv%.
Crescenzi made some big strides offensively in his age-19 season, doubling his goal and point output from last year, and in fewer games. He's a big kid at 6-foot-5, and has been a solid contributor for a strong Rangers team this year. He went undrafted and could be a candidate to return as an over-ager next year if the Leafs decide not to keep him with the Marlies. Given that he's something of a late bloomer and he's the only 1992-born skater on Kitchener's roster, I think that's a possibility. Kitchener faces Owen Sound in round one.
Brad Ross, LW, Portland Winterhawks - 2nd round, 43rd overall in 2010
Ross has had some very good fortune in his junior career, in that he's played with a collection of offensively dynamic forwards. With top-5 picks Ryan Johansen and Nino Niederreiter moved on to the pro ranks this year, Ross still got to line up with Ty Rattie, who finished 3rd in the Dub's scoring race, and Sven Bartschi, who had the best points-per-game rate in the league. Ross' offensive output has been terrific as a result, but don't expect him to be a scorer at the next level. The Winterhawks could have a deep playoff run; they're facing Kelowna in the first round.
Josh Nicholls, C, Saskatoon Blades - 7th round, 182nd overall in 2010
Nicholls has been interesting to follow through his junior career, as he exploded offensively last season for a powerhouse Blades team. His production has unsurprisingly fallen off a bit, but is still very respectable with 68 points in 56 games. The Blades are in tough against Medicine Hat in the first round. It'll be interesting to see how his game translates to the pro level.
I'll be keeping an eye on these prospects as they advance through the playoffs, so feel free to follow me on Twitter. Another must-follow for anyone interested in prospects is Corey Pronman of Hockey Prospectus and ESPN. He gives insight regularly into prospects, both drafted and undrafted, including many in the Leafs' system.
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