clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

CHL free agents the Maple Leafs should look at

New, comments

Whether it’s for development to the NHL, or Marlies depth, these players are ones to keep an eye on.

Terry Wilson / OHL Images

After Sam Ganger was traded to the Edmonton Oilers ahead of the trade deadline, it showed the lack of depth the Toronto Marlies have at the forward position. Pierre Engvall, who has traditionally been a winger, was moved to centre, and the Leafs brought in Nicolas Baptiste at the deadline. With most leagues heading to the playoffs soon, it can be hard to add to the AHL roster aside from making a trade with another AHL team. However, when you’re low on depth that’s harder than you’d think. Don’t worry though, there’s always one place you can stock up from come March.

The Tampa Bay Lightning kicked this off earlier today by signing Rimouski Oceanic forward Jimmy Huntington to an entry level contract.

The three junior leagues than make up the Canadian Hockey League will see their seasons end in one month’s time. As teams are eliminated from the playoffs, undrafted players will go and sign ATO’s - Amateur Try Out contracts - with AHL teams to get a leg up free agency. I’ve done some digging and found some names the Maple Leafs may be interested in.

Kyle Maksimovich - Ottawa 67’s
LW - 5’9” - 187lbs
18/19 stats: 59GP - 35G - 43A - 78Pts

Maskimovich is a player familiar to the Maple Leafs. He was invited to the post-draft prospects camp in 2017, and played with Travis Dermott on the 14/15 Erie Otters. He was a career Otter, winning the OHL championship in 2017, and was traded to the top OHL team - Ottawa 67’s - at the trade deadline in January. He’s been a point per game or more player since his sophomore season in the OHL, and can move and puck handle like any top player on his team. He’s attracted attention from a few teams aside from the Leafs; he attended Colorado Avalanche training camp in the fall of 2017, and played four AHL games for the Rockford IceHogs after the 2017/18 season. He’s more of a camp invitee though, as the 67’s are expected to last longer than the Marlies in the playoffs.

Keeghan Howdeshell - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
LW/C - 6’2: - 207lbs
18/19 stats: 60GP - 40G - 29A - 69Pts

This one is a gimmie, because, come on. Free agent, plays for the Greyhounds, this is right up Kyle’s alley. Howdeshell has embraced the extra ice time he’s getting after the Greyhounds graduated several players off the team from last season, and is scoring past a point per game. He’s after a pro contract this year after attending Arizona Coyotes camp in the summer.

Stephen Dhillon - Niagara IceDogs
G - 6’5” - 203lbs
18/19 stats: .911sv% - 2.94GAA - 5SO

Dhillon is a giant in net, both because the top of the net comes up to his waist and because he just set the IceDogs record for career wins, with 90 wins for Niagara. His numbers stats aren’t Ian Scott levels, but he’s been a reliable goaltender for the IceDogs, and would be a good depth addition to back up the Marlies or start for the Growlers.

Kade Landry - Hamilton Bulldogs
D - 6’1” - 198lbs
18/19 stats: 59GP - 6G - 42A - 48Pts

Landry is on a career high offensive season for the Bulldogs this year, a season where the Bulldogs have a new defensive coach in Vince Laise, and Landry has gotten more ice time after being a healthy scratch through the Bulldogs OHL Championship run.

Kevin Hancock - London Knights
C - 5’11” - 178lbs
18/19 stats - 62GP - 49G - 50A - 99Pts

He’s good, but he’s a Knight, so that’s a strike against him. The Knights sought him out at the OHL’s trade deadline, and he’s the team’s top scorer as they try to knock the Ottawa 67’s off the top of the OHL standings.

Alan Lyszczarczyk - Mississauga Steelheads
LW - 5’10” - 204lbs
18/19 stats: 56GP - 33G - 38A - 71Pts

Alan Lyszczarczyk is another player the Maple Leafs have shown interest in, as he attended rookie camp in 2016. He was traded to the Steelheads early this season and is looking to hit 80 points in his final junior season. Fun fact: He represents Poland internationally and played in both the U20 (Div. 1B) and Men’s (Div1A) world championships for them last year.

Justin Brazeau - North Bay Battalion
RW - 6’6” - 226lbs
18/19 stats: 60GP - 52G - 44A - 96Pts

The Battalion captain should cross the 100 point mark, and a player with his size won’t go unsigned very long. He’s attended camps with the Detroit Red Wings, Columbus Blue Jackets, and San Jose Sharks who seemed interested, according to this quote from the North Bay Nugget:

“When I left San Jose, it was to make sure I came back and dominated the league,” said Brazeau. “That was kind of the message.”

Hugo Leufvenius - Sarnia Sting
LW - 6’3” - 229lbs
18/19 stats: 60GP - 34G - 38A - 72Pts

The Swedish winger is in his second OHL season, and is the Sting’s top scorer, just five points ahead of the Maple Leafs Ryan McGregor. The Leafs will have seen a lot of Hugo while checking in on McGregor, and it could lead to a signing. The Maple Leafs noticed Kasimir Kaskisuo while watching draft pick Tony Cameranesi at Minnesota-Duluth.

Daniel Hardie - Charlottetown Islanders
LW - 5’10” - 180lbs
18/19 stats: 34G - 34A - 68Pts

Hardie is a GTA-born player who went overlooked by the OHL and made the jump to the QMJHL as a free agent. He had good stats for his draft years, but went overlooked and now the Islanders are reaping the rewards. He’s at a career high in points, and is playing a good defensive game.

Jeremy McKenna - Moncton Wildcats
RW - 5’10” - 178lbs
18/19 stats: 41G - 46A - 87Pts

An interesting player, as he spent a year playing junior hockey in Austria before heading to the QMJHL. After his rookie Q season he went on to play at over a point per game pace in his last two seasons with Moncton. He’s a trusted player in all situations, and would be a good addition for anyone looking for skills over size.

#HighlightOfTheNight | Jeremy McKenna

#HighlightOfTheNight | Jeremy McKenna's coast-to-coast goal helps the Moncton Wildcats hammer the Saint John Sea Dogs 5-1. What an effort by McKenna who scores his 2nd short-handed goal of the game.

Posted by QMJHL on Monday, January 1, 2018

Peter Abbandonato - Rouyn-Noranda Huskies
C - 5’11” - 192lbs
18/19 Stats: 27G - 70A - 97Pts

The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies are the top team in the QMJHL, and their leading scorer is up for grabs. Abbandonato was passed over in the NHL draft and spent time at the St. Louis Blues training camp. He’s one of the few players left from their amazing 2015-16 season, which saw them win their first QMJHL championship and lose the Memorial Cup final to the London Knights in overtime. Just a rookie then, he’s now an alternate captain for the team and is just one point behind Joe Veleno for the QMJHL scoring title. He’s not a household name yet, but he’s attracting attention in all the right places.

He became the first player in the Q to hit 100 points this year just last night:

Tristin Langan - Moose Jaw Warriors
LW - 6’0 - 206lbs
18/19 stats: 45G - 52A - 97Pts

Another undrafted forward who is near the top of league scoring, Langan is someon teams should look closely at. His scoring never really picked up until his overage season - his previous career high is 42 points last season, before that he never cracked 20. Langan may be a result of just being the biggest, oldest player on the ice when he’s there, or he may be a late bloomer. Probably more a player to get a minor league deal to start, rather than an NHL contract.

Parker AuCoin - Tri-City Americans
LW - 6’0 - 199lbs
18/19 stats: 37G - 34A - 71Pts

AuCoin is similar to Langan above, never had a breakout season until his over age year. He’s a heavy shooter, passing 200 shots per game for this season.


One of the risks with CHL free agents is that they’re generally overage players, which means they’re at least 20 years old and usually bigger than their opponents. You shouldn’t look at any of these players as someone who can step into the Leafs lineup, but they would be good options for adding depth and strengthening the Marlies roster for April, the playoffs, or next season.

Except Stephen Dhillon, sign him Kyle.