Apparently the Leafs top European scout Petr Inacek had a heavy hand in this selection - pressuring the club to add Herzog consistently. Obviously with a scout so high on a draft pick you have to wonder what led to it. Well Herzog was skating on an EV Zug team in Switzerland during the lockout under the tutelage of Doug Shedden, that featured Henrik Zetterberg, Damien Brunner, Linus Omark, Jussi Markkanen and yes - one time Leaf Andy Wozniewski. Herzog is no longer under contract in Europe going into next season so he is eligible to cross the pond as soon as possible.
The Leafs plan on bringing him across to North America where he will enter the CHL import draft (July 3rd) and continue his development closer to Toronto. Listed at 6'2" and 176 lbs, Herzog definitely has some filling out to do, but if he can add strength he could provide some toughness in front as he doesn't shy away from contact and he skates well.
Herzog ended the year ranked 59th amongst European skaters by NHL Central Scouting, and he only managed to produce 2 goals and 4 points in 20 Swiss A League games this past season playing against a mix of former NHLers and top European players. He did produce 28 goals and 45 points in 32 Swiss Jr. League games though, so he was very productive in a less than stellar league.
I can't help but wonder if his development is expected to track similarly to former Leaf draft pick Jerome Flaake - selected in the 5th round, 130th overall in 2008 - who has yet to play any professional games outside of Germany. In other words - while I think there's a semi-decent chance Herzog turns into a useful player - I think it is far more likely he will see NHL action if he plays and develops more in North America under the watchful eyes of the Leafs.
Herzog is 18 already and has a December 9th 1994 birthdate, so if he makes any impact in the CHL that will give us a decent bell weather for determining how he fits into the Leafs developmental rankings. At this stage I'm curious to see which team selects him in the import draft, as that could also affect his playing time, usage, and coaching - albeit for a brief time overall. My expectation would be that the CHL will be a step down in difficulty for a player used to playing vs. fully grown men in Europe (including NHLers) so Herzog should be a productive player next season.
Here is a highlight pack from a EV Zug 7-2 victory over SCL Tigers - replete with awesome German commentary. Herzog scores 2 goals in the game, and shows off that net drive on his 2nd goal. He's number 91, and if you can't pick him out easily - just wait for the commentator's introduction. Oh and while we're enjoying this - please note that Herzog is German for "DUKE". So yeah - just go ahead and start with the nicknames.