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Are the Maple Leafs sneaking a peak at NCAA free agent Josh Healey?

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They’ve done sneaky scouting of NCAA players in the past

Big Ten Men's Ice Hockey Championship
Can he skate? The kid can fly.
Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The biggest NCAA free agent available this summer is Josh Healey, who plays on defense for Ohio State. Yesterday TSN’s Bob McKenzie wrote a piece on him, bringing his name to minds of hockey fans everywhere, not just those in the Buckeye State. Bob mentioned Healey spent time at development camps for the Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, and Nashville Predators in recent summers. If Toronto wasn’t on that list, then why am I talking about him?

The Maple Leafs may be stealthily scouting the big bruising blue liner themselves.

It comes down to assumptions being made on my part, but here’s my theory and it gets a little long:

Last season the Toronto Maple Leafs had both Tony Cameranesi and Dominic Toninato playing at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Cameranesi’s rights were set to expire on August 15th of that year (Toninato’s expire this year). When the college season ended who was it that the Maple Leafs signed right away?

Kasimir Kaskisuo, undrafted goalie for the UMD Bulldogs.

Cameranesi signed a PTO to play with the Marlies for the rest of the season, but a solid two way NHL deal went to the goalie who came out of nowhere (Cameranesi is now on an AHL deal).

The Maple Leafs looking at Kaskisuo never really came up at all over the season, but they were watching him. Conveniently going to check up on their two draft picks for the team, they took notes at every game, maybe slipped a Tony or Dominic a message to pass along. Out of the blue the Leafs had a third goalie prospect signed along side Antoine Bibeau and Garret Sparks.

How does this apply to Josh Healey?

Playing on that same Buckeyes team is Maple Leafs 2014 draft pick Dakota Joshua.

Are the Maple Leafs doing some sneaky scouting at Ohio State games? They have an in that won’t attract attention, just the way the team seems to like it right now.

Now the question is, do we want Healey?

In Bob’s article, team officials describe him as:

"Old school – keep your head up when he's on the ice," one NHL executive said of the 22-year-old from Edmonton who has generated interest from almost every NHL club.

Healey is on his second suspension this season because, as one scout says:

"Hits too hard for college hockey," another NHL scout said. "His game will be better suited to pro."

So he’s big, strong, and willing to do anything to get the job done. Makes a good soundbite but what about offense?

His stats from Elite Prospects are promising:

If I were to add him to my NHLe chart from my prospects reports, he’d be on pace for a 21 point NHL season, which would put him 4th on the Leafs, one point ahead of Matt Hunwick.

Healey was a Big 10 conference first team all star last season, and his numbers are trending upward as each season goes by.

If the Maple Leafs are looking for defensive depth this off season, Healey looks like a good pick. He’d be ready to stop into a top role for the Marlies, and may give some competition at training camp for defensive depth. It seems that a lot of teams in the NHL are looking in his direction, and hopefully the Leafs are in Ohio using the same sneaky scouting that got them Kaskisuo.