Along with the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators, whom Katya has covered here, the Toronto Maple Leafs have released their list of 30 prospects and free agent invitees that will travel to Place Bell in Laval, Quebec for the three teams’ annual Rookie Showcase.
The Leafs roster contains the majority of the team’s drafted prospects from the past few seasons, along with several of the younger ECHL Newfoundland Growlers, and some interesting free agents.
The @MapleLeafs announced today the club’s 30-man roster that will participate in the 2018 NHL Rookie Showdown at Place Bell in Laval, QC this September. The players will compete in two games against prospect teams from Montreal and Ottawa. #TMLtalk pic.twitter.com/2xQegQw66w— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) August 30, 2018
Normally we would break down this roster into forwards, defense, and goalies to make it easier to look at, but since there are so many players from different places, how about a new way of looking at things?
Drafted Prospects from 2014 to 2018
Obviously the largest group, the Leafs have 17 players whom they have directly drafted attending this camp and tournament.
From 2018 seven (7) of the nine (9) prospects are on the roster, meaning we are only missing Pontus Holmberg (Växjö, SHL) and Semyon Kizimov (Ladia Togliatti, MHL) who are with their respective European clubs. Those players are: Zachary Bouthillier (Chicoutimi, QMJHL), Semyon Der-Arguchintsev (Peterborough, OHL), Sean Durzi (Owen Sound, OHL), Mac Hollowell (Sault Ste. Marie, OHL), Filip Kral (Spokane, WHL), Rasmus Sandin (Rogle, SHL / Sault Ste. Marie, OHL), Riley Stotts (Calgary, WHL / Swift Current, WHL).
There are four (4) players from the 2017 draft class, including Timothy Liljegren (Toronto, AHL), Fedor Gordeev (Flint, OHL), Ian Scott (Prince Albert, WHL), and Ryan McGregor (Sarnia, OHL). Second-round pick Eemeli Rasanen, who is in the KHL now, is the most notable absentee from this class.
Only two (2) players from the 2016 draft class are on the roster, and both are with the Marlies. Carl Grundstrom and Adam Brooks will unfortunately not be joined 2016 top pick Auston Matthews. Such a shame, really thought he would make the team.
The 2015 class has three (3) players from it attending the tournament. Andrew Nielsen (Toronto, AHL), and Jeremy Bracco (Toronto, AHL) have both walked onto the team bus from their Toronto homes to take part in the action. Surprsingly, Jesper Lindgren (HPK, Liiga), who left the Marlies to go back home to train in Sweden is back, giving us the opportunity to see the young right-handed defenseman in action.
J.J. Piccinich (Orlando, ECHL) is the only player from the 2014 class to be on the team. Picccinich is entering the final season of his two-year AHL contract with the Toronto Marlies and will most likely spend the majority of season with the Growlers. At 22-years-old, Piccinich is a vet at this tournament.
Signed to AHL contracts (plus Mason Marchment)
AHL contract: Matthew Bradley (Regina, WHL), Elynuik Hudson (Spokane, WHL), Estephan Giorgio (Swift Current, WHL / Lethbridge, WHL), Brady Ferguson (Toronto, AHL), Stefan LeBlanc (Laval, AHL), Ryan Moore (Hamilton, OHL / Flint, OHL), Derian Plouffe (Toronto, AHL), Scott Pooley (Toronto, AHL)
NHL contract: Mason Marchment (Toronto, AHL)
Of the nine (9) AHL contracts (plus Marchment), eight are forwards, with the only defenseman surpringly coming from Montreal’s system. Several of these players are from the WHL, where newly signed Assistant Director of Player Development Hayley Wickenheiser has been living the past few years. Several others were players brought into the Marlies by then-GM Kyle Dubas on PTO’s and ATO’s.
Stefan LeBlanc is the odd man out in this equation. Undrafted out of the Mississauga Steelheads of the OHL, the left-shooting defenseman is a personal favourite of mine after seeing him play for my home team for four seasons. He joined the Laval Rocket on an AHL contract, but it appears that has since expired. The 22-year-old (draft year 2014) had okay, but not great numbers in the AHL last season (see: prospect-stats.com) has a spot on the Growlers lineup for next season and could find himself on the Marlies, who only have three left-defense locks at the moment (Nielsen, Calle Rosen, and Andreas Borgman).
Marchment is one of Dubas’ favourite success stories. Signed to an AHL deal out of the OHL, Marchment has diligently trained on his strength and skill and was rewarded not only with a key role on the Marlies, but with an NHL contract mid-way through last season.
Free Agent Invitees
There are four free agents have have been invited to the rookie tournament. Two from the WHL, one from the OHL, and one from the Czech Republic. Let’s go through them all, shall we?
Drew Hunter (Niagara, OHL): Ah, yes. Another Hunter. I know just what to do with you! Hunter, to the best of my knowledge is not related in any way to the Overlords of London. The 19-year-old American can play both center and defense and is described by local Niagara Icedogs fan ElSeldo as a “good kid.” Good enough for me!
Roman Pucek (VHK, Czech2 / Vsentin, Czech U18): WHAT DO YOU MEAN THE LEAFS INVITED A CZECH ROMAN P. TO CAMP?! Jokes aside, Dubas has to be trolling us, right? Pucek was one of his team’s top performers in the U18 league, notching 73 points in just 41 games in 2017-18. Despite putting up those numbers in his draft year, Pucek went undrafted in 2018. However, he was noticed by people in North America and was drafted in the first round of the CHL Import Draft by none other than... The Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Funny how that worked out, eh. All that being said, this doesn’t mean he’s going to be a Leaf in the near future, but it does mean the Leafs have their eye on this kid. Mac Hollowell and Sean Durzi were both free agent camp invitees by the Leafs following their first draft-eligible seasons and both have since joined the Leafs as full-fledged drafted prospects. Besides, it’s always good to have a Roman P. in the locker room.
Kristians Rubins (Medicine Hat, WHL): This 20-year-old defenseman out of Latvia, and most recently, the WHL isn’t actually a free agent. He’s currently under an ECHL/AHL contract with the Newfoundland Growlers. On a side note, I didn’t realize how many young players Kyle Dubas has brought into the ECHL on his own. It’s very possible almost half the lineup for opening night will be under 23. There should be lots of room to grow for this young Latvian, and lots of icetime to do it in.
Eli Zummack (Spokane, WHL): Zummack is a small (5’9”), 18-year-old Canadian center out of the Spokane Chiefs organization. Elite Prospects currently shows Zummack to have no home for next year, but surely the Chiefs will bring back their near-point-per-game U19 center for another season. His twitter account indicates he’ll be back in Spokane for another season, too. In the meantime, the Leafs will get a chance to see what he’s got in their system and against some of the
better talent players Ottawa and Montreal have.
Toronto will play Ottawa in their first game on Saturday, September 8th at 3pm EST. They will finish the tournament playing Montreal the next day, Sunday, September 9th at 3pm EST as well. Hopefully the games will be televised or streamed in some way. If they are, we’ll let you know!