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Maple Leafs first development camp scrimmage had a surprise star line

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It wasn’t Brooks, Bracco and Dzierkals, it was three names you likely don’t know.

Victoriaville Tigres v Blainville-Boisbriand Armada
Kristian Pospisil in action in the Q.
Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

Today’s Maple Leafs development camp scrimmage pitted Team Clark against Team Sittler, continuing the usual tradition of naming the teams after the stars of the old days.

The teams also continued the structure of this camp where the draft picks are split up from the large number of free agents to work out separately. The free agents are vying for potential AHL or ECHL jobs either now or when their college careers end. The draft picks are beginning a long process of development for the NHL. They hope.

The two sides met in a scrimmage game today and it wasn’t the draft picks who dominated, it was the free agents with one hot line who ran all over the team of better-known Leafs picks.

First the lineups (the draft picks had to borrow some forwards since they are missing some players to illness or other absences):

Team Clark

Bobylev - Joshua - Engvall
Dzierkals - Brooks - Piccinich
Maksimovich - McGregor - Chebykin
Vesey - Koskenkorva - Turkulainen

Middleton - Liljegren
Greenway - Rasanen
Gordeev - Mattinen
O'Connell

Scott
Murphy

Team Sittler

Pospisil - Rueschhoff - Tortora
Hirose - Freeman - Tavernier
Coskey - Gustafsson - Kozhevnikov
Nyman - Keating - Andonovski

Duquette - King
Garreffa - Hutton
Smart - Cook
O’Grady

Papirny
Samuel


The final score of this game was 6-3 for the free agents on Team Sittler, and it was their top line that lit up the goal light the most.

Kristian Pospisil

Pospisil is from Slovakia, and he is a 6’2” and 170 lb winger/centre. He has also had a really interesting career. When he was 16, he moved out of the Slovakian system and onto the club team in Salzburg, Austria. He played for EC Salzburg for three years, his last two on their junior or U20 team, which was in the MHL at that time. The MHL is the Russian junior league, and would be a lot tougher league than anything in Austria or Slovakia.

He scored .77 Points per Game in the MHL, moved to Canada to play one year in the QMJHL, and notched the identical points pace. That’s not world beating, but it’s good enough to get you looked at by minor league pro teams.

He spent last season in the USHL playing on the same team as Eeli Tolvanen a top draft pick who was ultimately taken by the Nashville Predators. Pospisil was third to Tolvanen in points on that team. He’s also 21 to Tolvanen’s 18, so that’s a good result, but not in Tolvanen’s league.

Pospisil isn’t committed to play anywhere next season, and he’s at the age where he can turn pro in Europe with ease. Will the Leafs look to offer him a minor league deal? Maybe. He’s impressed in this scrimmage today.

Austin Rueschhoff

Rueschhoff is an American forward who has played in the NAHL as a junior as well as the USHL and is committed to Western Michigan University for next year. He is just 19, and is a very big man for a forward. At 6’6” and 238 lb, he is the powerful body people imagine when they picture the much more slender Eemeli Räsänen.

With a college career ahead of him, he’s not likely switching gears to turn pro now, but he’s a name to remember for next summer after this performance.

Jacob Tortora

Tortora rounded out this line of doom today and got himself a hattrick to show for their efforts. He is another American, but he’s only 17 (for a few more days). He’s been in the US National Team Development Program, and he is off to Boston College next year.

He is the small, really zippy winger you’ll see in the highlight reel, and his name you really should file away for the future. At only 5’8” and 161 lb, he makes Rueschhoff look even bigger than he is, but what a group they made!

Onto the highlights:

Okay, enough about those guys and their great day. One Adam Brooks goal to keep the score respectable for the draft picks: