The Toronto Maple Leafs announced that 31 players will be attending the Rookie Tournament in London, Ontario this season. The tournament schedule pits Toronto against Ottawa on September 16 at 7 p.m., against Montreal on September 17 at 7 p.m., and against Pittsburgh on September 18 at 4:35 p.m.
Fun excerpt from the press release:
Attending this year’s tournament will be four draft picks from the 2016 Entry Draft (Adam Brooks, Keaton Middleton, Jack Walker and Nicolas Mattinen), eight draft picks from the 2015 Entry Draft (Mitch Marner, Travis Dermott, Jeremy Bracco, Andrew Nielsen, Martins Dzierkals, Dmytro Timashov, Stephen Desrocher and Nikita Korostelev), two draft picks from the 2014 Entry Draft (Rinat Valiev and JJ Piccinich), three draft picks from the 2013 Entry Draft (Frederik Gauthier, Antoine Bibeau and Andreas Johnson) and one draft pick from the 2011 Entry Draft (Tony Cameranesi).
Some of the expected names on the list are Mitch Marner, Jeremy Bracco, Dmytro Timashov, and various other prospects we've been avidly following.
The expected World Cup of Hockey names were not on the list -- notably coach Mike Babcock and number one draft pick Auston Matthews. Coaching for the tournament will be handled by Marlies coaches Sheldon Keefe, Gord Dineen, and A.J. MacLean. But there were a few other surprises as we pored through the roster.
Who is Jon Jutzi, anyway? Formerly of the Minnesota State Mankato, he was signed to the Manitoba Moose of the AHL for six games last season after his NCAA season ended. He was an Alternate Captain for Minnesota State in his last year of college, and we're currently inquiring with the Marlies about whether he's been signed to a PTO. (Elite Prospects page here.)
Tye Felhaber of the Saginaw Spirit was invited too. Felhaber caused a ruckus back in 2014 when he refused to report to his drafted OHL team due to distance, went anyway, and then set a new rookie franchise record for goals. He's a left-shooting C/LW, and did well in his second year too. At age 18, he's expected back with Saginaw in the upcoming season. (Elite Prospects page here.)
At age 23, Tony Cameranesi has already played six games with the Marlies last season after his NCAA year ended. We wrote about him back in March when his NCAA team, University of Minnesota-Duluth, fell to Boston College. Would the Leafs re-sign him? Here's what Scott had to say:
A diminutive 5-9 centre, Cameranesi is an excellent, quick skater and playmaker who has progressed well since a standout freshman season with the Bulldogs that saw him earn NCAA (WCHA) All-Rookie Team honours alongside other NHL prospects, including Florida Panthers second rounder Rocco Grimaldi.
Three times the team's leading scorer in his four seasons with the Bulldogs, Cameranesi is without a doubt a gifted player.
But the Leafs have a tough decision to make with the 22-year-old centre.
In a prospect pool rife with talented, but small, forwards, the Leafs have to decide if they're willing to use one of their 50 Standard Player Contracts (SPCs) on another middling, B or C level prospect.
Will the Leafs be using the Rookie Tournament to make this decision about Cameranesi? Likely. He is currently signed to an AHL contract with the Marlies.
24-year-old Justin Holl, 23-year-old Colin Smith, and 21-year-old Andreas Johnson are all being considered rookies for the sake of the tournament. They have all played professionally (Johnson in two playoff games for the Marlies and several seasons with Frolunda in the SHL, Smith in 206 AHL games and one NHL game, and Holl in 62 AHL games and 66 ECHL games), and will likely provide the "veteran" voices on the rookie team.
And there is this happy news for people interested in the greater Leafs system:
In goal, the Leafs have turned to Antoine Bibeau and Kasimir Kaskisuo, with Garret Sparks sitting this one out for the first time.