We'll begin our look at the prospects in the Maple Leafs system by looking at some of the players who have a bit more of a physical edge to their game. These players typically do not have much in the way of offensive skill; their path to the pros is going to be based on their sheer sixe and physicality, aggression, and probably a significant number of fights.
One of the players listed below made the Top 25, and the rest did not. Let's introduce you to six young men who would likely beat the crap out of me for suggesting they suck at hockey, and then see if you can find the one that made the cut.
It`s actually interesting to note that not a single one of this group made the Top 25 last round, so somebody has made a big jump since we last compiled list back in January.
David Broll (Forward, 19, previous ranking; 38) It has to be said that it's extremely bizarre that in a draft class that included two first round picks, the first player signed by Toronto from their draft class was the 6th round pick Broll. Broll is a bruiser, and coming in at around 6'2, 220 lbs, he plays an extremely aggressive style and is not afraid to mix it up. Broll got a bit of a tryout with the Marlies at season's end (even getting into the lineup for 2 playoff games during the Calder Cup run), and his first taste of pro hockey could give him a push to make big strides coming into his overage season in the OHL.
Andrew Crescenzi (Forward, 19, previous; 31) The hulking forward (6'5", 208 lbs), signed as an undrafted free agent in 2010, doubled his previous offensive output in his final OHL season with the Kitchener Rangers. But as with some of the others, waiting until your overage season to put up points isn't all that impressive. Unlike Broll or Devane, while Crescenzi plays a physical game, he isn't known as just another fighter; he is a player that is capable of playing in all three zones, he just does so extremely physically. Crescenzi probably projects as more of a bottom six banger than a pure enforcer, which might provide him with a better opportunity of making a meaningful contribution to the Marlies next season.
Jamie Devane (Forward, 21, previous; 30) It's still a little mystifying to me that this guy got a contract but the Leafs didn't have any room for Josh Nicholls, In his veteran seasons in the OHL, Devane's slowly evolved beyond just an enforcer, but 45 points in 59 games still isn't encouraging for his future beyond replacing Colton Orr. Next season Devane makes the full time jump to the pros, but I can't see him playing anywhere other than the 4th line in the AHL or more likely in the ECHL. At least the Leafs only used a 3rd rounder on him instead of a mid 1st like the Caps did on his PLymouth teammate (and fellow Coke Machine) Tom Wilson. So there's that.
Eric Knodel (Defence, 22, previous; 34) Knodel is huge. There's really no other way to say that. He's 6'6" and 220 lbs.so as you would expect with a kid that size there are some concerns about his skating and mobility. Knodel is a Coke Machine in the sense that he's literally as big as one; he's not an overly physical defender, but can bring a fair bit of offence, and after red-shirting last season at the University of New Hampshire, he contributed 12 points in 37 games in his first year in the NCAA. A 5th round pick from 2009, Knodel will need to take a big step forward in his development as he's already the same age as MacWilliam and two years behind him in terms of school.
Andrew MacWilliam (Defence, 22, previous; 36) MacWilliam doesn't bring much in the way of offence. in three seasons at the University of North Dakota, he's managed a total of 2 goals, 16 assists, and 211 PIMS. What he brings is a physical element (6'2", 220 lbs) and strong defensive play. This is his senior year at UND, so the former 2008 7th round pick could be on the horizon, although his limited offensive upside will severely limit his NHL potential to that of "3rd-pairing guy who hits everything that moves:.
Ryan Rupert (Forward, 18, previous; Not Ranked) Rupert, a 6th round draft pick from this past summer, probably doesn't qualify as a Coke Machine; for one, he contributed 48 points in 63 games for the London Knights (and 15 in 19 playoff games), and second, his game is more of an agitator than a pure goon. However, at this early point in hi development the expectation is that if he makes it to the NHL it will be in a fourth-line pest role. He's the youngest of the prospects listed here and the only newcomer to the list; does he jump straight into the Top 25?