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Ty Voit is a player I just have a fondness for. I think it's because he plays in Sarnia where my impression is the players have to work for their accolades, unlike London, the Maple Leafs of the OHL. The Knights have everything – an arena that I'll likely help them renovate whether I like it or not, stable owners who think winning is the point of it all, and a history of finding and icing the best young players and then working on their development.
Sarnia is the oft-overlooked little brother, and Ty Voit is a prospect who seems to fit that role too – particularly now with Easton Cowan just down the 402. He's unusual for an OHL player in that he's American, and that means he has to really wow them back in Colorado Springs to make the national team. Just good isn't good enough once you've crossed the border.
Did you know Voit finished second in OHL points this year? No? Well, you see he's 20 now, and it was assists and besides there's other good players carrying him, and it seemed to me the excuses to downrate Voit roll off of tongues very easily.
Second in the OHL in points. Leafs draft pick. No one cares.
|Age as of July 1
The first thing we need to get straight is that Voit is not Matt Knies, the man who casts the shadow Voit lives in. Knies didn't score in ways that excite prospect watchers even after he rolled up in a Leafs jersey and everyone said, "Ohhhhhh." A lot of people thought his biggest fans were hyping him up before that moment of revelation because of that lack of points. Knies has game. And that's the question about Voit. Does he? Or is he just the zippy little forward prototype who can get near the net in junior hockey and rack up points?
What if he's a little of both?
First to look at the points with clear eyes, Voit scored 24 goals. The top OHLer by points per game, Brandt Clarke (a defenceman!) had 23 goals. Clarke played 31 games to Voit's 67. Voit's points genuinely are mostly assists – 77% assists. And that's barely over his OHL career numbers, so it wasn't an anomalous year. He is, absolutely, a setup man, a player dependent on the quality of his linemates. He is not a hard-checking line-driver, he's just a guy who puts the puck on your stick when you need it.
Both Voit and Clarke (taken 8th overall the year Voit went 153rd) will play in the AHL this year, and like a few others in the Leafs prospect pool, they're at that awkward age where you're guessing about their pro future based on their junior hockey year in the sun at age 20. Remember that Frederik Gauthier was close to a point per game guy in junior hockey and had a nice playoff run of points when he was 20.
From May of this year, Brian talked about Voit, points and development, and I'd be fine if you just went and read this whole article:
Where 22 of Voit's 80 points were
at even strength[on the power play]* (27.5%) last season, he had 42 of his 105 points at even strength[on the power play] this year (40%). So that's 20 points out of his 25 "increased" points coming just on the powerplay. It is undeniable that, in junior, Voit's skill at handling the puck and finding passing lanes helps his team and linemates a lot. They would not have scored as many goals as they would have without him. But I think it's noteworthy that his extra year of aging, improving his skills, etc did not have a meaningful impact on his 5v5 production.
Voit basically took all the puck carrying and playmaking ability he already had, and dialled it up to 11. He became the OHL's top playmaker. He had the most assists in the entire league. Powerplay or not, better linemates at finishing or not, you don't fluke into that. It's not like the other top players by assists didn't also get a lot of powerplay time with linemates good at scoring. Even without a shot that's as much of a threat to goalies, he still does the little things right to sell opponents with little fake shots. The slight freeze he can illicit from them helps his teammates out a lot when Voit ultimately passes to them.
Voit arguably became one of the best OHL players at getting the puck from the boards to the middle. How he achieved this is also quite different from Knies. Where Knies had the size and strength to do all the dirty work himself, and fight through checkers, Voit relied on quickness and cleverness. Poke the puck away from a scrum, dig it out with a little stick lift, and quickly dart to the middle with some open ice. Once there, give his teammates time to get into a good position, create a passing lane to them with some deceptive puck handling, and sling a pass onto the teammate's stick to finish off the play. This was as true at even strength as it was on the powerplay, it's just that on the powerplay with more space and the best scoring linemates on his team that ability became much more dangerous.
*the original article contained an error where "even strength" was mistakenly used to describe power play stats.
What this boils down to is this: if you have a small, agile winger who is a good to excellent playmaker, you are still going to look for a little something more. Semyon Der-Arguchintsev leaps to mind. He is that player, and if he had a shot, could score goals at the pro level, he'd be someone we'd be looking at to get some NHL time right now. But he can't bring his game to the NHL. If Voit can't score much, and he can't body the puck around like Knies can, is his game enough?
A lot of voters said no.
I said no, he's not enough. It's not size, although I'll note that I put his stats from Cap Friendly in the table above, and the Marlies actually listed him at 5'9" and 150 lbs last season. Back in the day when the Marlies routinely won instead of lost a lot, there was a team photo of them lined up on the bench, and you could measure who was 5-9, 5-10 or who was maybe stretched up to 5-11. They were all that same size, and they were excellent. Several of them are in the NHL now.
The trouble isn't that he isn't as big as Matt Knies, it's that without the puck, he's not a threat to the other team. You don't need to be big to be that, because Mitch Marner is a gigantic pain in the ass to opponents without the puck. Suddenly he's there, and he's taking it from you and oh, there's Matthews open over there just like they planned it. That's the brain that does that, or does it first before the body gets involved, and there's just no sign at all that Voit is thinking the game in a way that makes him threatening enough before the offensive play is well underway.
Voit has skills. He is a fun player who will tantalize on the Marlies and someday the coach of the Leafs will be blamed for his failure to crack the NHL lineup. That's my guess, and that's why I ranked him a couple down the list from SDA even though I really like him. I like them both, actually.
Other opinions on Voit:
Brian: This coming year, his rookie AHL season, will be a big test for Voit. He showed last year he was one of the best offensively skilled producers in the OHL. If we want to see some real potential as an impact offensive NHL player in his future, there’s a few things we’ll want to see from him this season. First, he has to continue producing – he doesn’t have to be on the AHL leaderboard for points, but he should have a strong point rate for his age. Second, he has to show he can influence the game in ways outside of just passing the puck. That didn’t work out for Bracco either, and it won’t for Voit if that’s all he can do without having some historic levels of production. I have some worries about how much he can do that with how small and light he is, I think he’ll struggle physically to get to the places he needs to be to have an impact. My question is how high a level are his skills to overcome that? I’ve been wondering that the past two years, and now he has a chance to show some answers.
dhammm: As a rule, I try not to get excited about D+2 prospects playing in the CHL unless they're putting up 2 points per game. Ty Voit got close to that benchmark, and I'm excited to see if he can nail his transition to the AHL. Connor Brown is the best case scenario if he can round out his game.
The Bag: I have a hard time projecting junior players who put up lots of points without scoring lots of goals. Between 2012-13 and 2021-22, four players placed in the top 10 in OHL scoring without hitting 30 goals: Evan Bouchard (defenseman), 16 year old Connor McDavid, Nick Cousins and Charles Sarault (?). Nick Cousins would be a pretty good outcome, I guess, but Voit is not built to play like Cousins, I suspect. Still, that’s a lot of points.
Catch-67: It’s easy to see a lot of points for a prospect in junior and get excited, so it’s ironic that we all seem quite somber about Voit’s potential. It’s not surprising, though, because Voit strikes me as a lot like Bracco, as others have mentioned. That’s not great for his projectability at higher levels. That said, Voit seems to quite often get pretty good reviews from scouts on his work-ethic and defensive ability. Those scouting reports give me hope that he might be able to actually develop his game beyond his passing upon getting to the Marlies and become something a bit more versatile. It’s hard to project such a small, pass-first player who doesn’t really have enough skill for an NHL top-six. Kerfoot’s the only player I can think of with that profile. It’s a pretty limited range of possibilities that gets a player like that into the NHL, but, hey, it’ll be fun to see if Voit can beat the odds.
Hardev: To be an NHL pro, you need to have more than just scoring to get the minutes that allow you to score. The AHL is more forgiving, in that you can be sheltered and not worry too much about playing at the relentless pace of the NHL every shift. This is a problem Nick Robertson is running into right now. He was lights out in the OHL, and very confidently lights out in the AHL when he was healthy. But when it came to the NHL, suddenly his long range shots weren’t as effective. His releases got intercepted, his pace was no longer a get-out-of-jail-free card, and he struggled in semi-real minutes. I don’t know what Voit has that won’t get washed out when the league tightens up around him. I am always down on CHL draftees coming into the AHL because I don’t know how they’ll react. So for now, I’ll need some convincing for next summer that Voit is a real boy.
Your turn. What's your take on Voit? Will he tie one on in the AHL? Will he tie up the opposition and help some veteran centre score more goals than he ever has before? Will the Leafs ever let him out of the gym?
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