One of the silliest complaints about the Toronto Maple Leafs every draft is that they didn’t take enough kids from the Ontario Hockey League, didn’t take enough Ontario boys, didn’t take enough GTA kids.
Fear not, Don Cherry and company, the Maple Leafs have invited 18 kids from the OHL to their development camp, which begins today. Here’s a brief rundown of those wonderful, good ol’ Ontariah boys.
J.J. Piccinich - F - London Knights - Drafted 2014 103rd overall
2016/17 stats: 66GP - 26G - 46A - 72Pts
The London Knights captain for last season will not be returning to the OHL next year, as he signed an AHL contract with the Toronto Marlies. Piccinich isn’t an offensive star in junior but has been a reliable two way player for the Knights, and we’ll see if that translates to the Marlies this fall.
Jeremy Bracco - F - Kitchener Rangers/Windsor Spitfires - Drafted 2015 61st overall
2016/17 stats: 57GP - 25G - 58A - 83Pts
Coming off a Memorial Cup win, Jeremy Bracco will most likely join the Toronto Marlies next season, unless he blows everyone away at camp. He could be sent back to junior, but this is a very unlikely situation. He’s posted back to back PPG+ seasons in the OHL since leaving Boston College.
Nikita Korostelev - F - Peterborough Petes - Drafted 2015 185th overall
2016/17 stats: 55GP - 19G - 35A - 64Pts
His Maple Leafs rights expired in June, and he went undrafted this year so he’s an NHL free agent. The Maple Leafs brought him into development camp and he’ll be playing for an AHL/ECHL contract if he wants to stay in the Maple Leafs organization.
Keaton Middleton - D - Saginaw Spirit - Drafted 2016 101st overall
2016/17 stats: 64GP - 4G - 14A - 18Pts
The Saginaw captain saw big improvement this past season over his draft year, more than doubling his points and solidifying his defensive game. He doesn’t have much rope with a lot of Leafs fans, who point to him as an example of bad Leafs drafting.
Nicolas Mattinen - D - London Knights - Drafted 2016 179th overall
2016/17 stats: 66GP - 2G - 6A - 8Pts
Often seen as a draft favour by Mark Hunter to one of his Knights, Mattinen isn’t an offensive defenceman by any means, but his numbers went down from 10 points in 38 games to eight in 66 last season. A stay at home player, he’ll be watched closely along with Middleton to see how the ‘draft big D’ method worked.
Eemeli Rasanen - D - Kingston Frontenacs - Drafted 2017 59th overall
2016/17 stats: 66GP - 6G - 33A - 39Pts
Rasanen was profiled by Katya last week.
Fedor Gordeev - D - Flint Firebirds - Drafted 2017 141st overall
2016/17 stats: 64GP - 3G - 10A - 13Pts
A pick that’s very mold-able to the Leafs desires, the hometown boy will be excited to play at camp with other Leafs picks. Slow to start in his first year of junior, he has nowhere to go but up this summer and next year in Flint.
Ryan McGregor - F - Sarnia Sting - Drafted 2017 172nd overall
2016/17 stats: 65GP - 14G - 13A - 27Pts
In his two years with Sarnia, the forward has never hit 30 points. Not unheard of for 16/17 year old forwards in the OHL, and a late draft pick as well. He didn’t have the chance to train much last summer while recovering from a concussion so this camp is a huge opportunity for him.
Kyle Maksimovich - F - Erie Otters - Invite
2016/17 stats: 64GP - 16G - 48A - 64Pts
He played on a line with Anothy Cirelli and Warren Foegele with the Erie Otters all year but was never drafted. Watching him at the Memorial cup I was hoping the Leafs would take a flyer on him, and this invitation is a huge opportunity. His team mates had nothing but great things to say and he’s a fast and skilled play maker who owuld be a boon to the Marlies next season.
Linus Nyman - F - Kingston Frontenacs - Invite
2016/17 stats: 68GP - 26G - 24A - 50Pts
Nyman is eligible for the 2018 draft and the Leafs are taking a closer look at the winger they watched while scouting the Frontenacs last season. His numbers are great for a first year OHLer, he’s one to watch this season.
Joseph Garreffa - F - Kitchener Rangers - Invite
2016/17 stats: 68GP - 25G - 35A - 60Pts
Another young star in making, Garreffa is a forward for the Rangers who will take on a much bigger role next season. His points total quadrupled when he got more responsibility this past season and we should only see his play grow this year.
Austen Keating - F - Ottawa 67’s - Invite
2016/17 stats: 67GP - 22G - 41A - 63Pts
One of the bigger names and top players for the Ottawa 67’s last season, Keating was passed over in this years draft, despite the interest the Leafs have in him. Needing to work on his defensive game and consistency, Keating is a great invite to this camp.
Sean Durzi - D - Owen Sound Attack - Invite
2016/17 stats: 60GP - 2G - 36A - 38Pts
A physical defenseman, despite being one of the smaller d-men invited to camp at 5’11”, Durzi would make a good point man on the power play - he shoots well, but usually aims for his team mates at the net to get a rebound - but he’s in need of defensive work, like most OHL players his age.
Logan DeNoble - F - Peterborough Petes - Invite
2016/17 stats: 67GP - 34G - 21A - 55Pts
He doesn’t have big points, but he has the brains of a potentially great forward. A high hockey IQ can get him into the right spot. Not a lock for the pros, but camps like these can highlight overlooked players and get them new opportunities. The Leafs will take a good look at him.
Cole Coskey - F - Saginaw Spirit - Invite
2016/17 stats: 66GP - 10G - 21A - 31Pts
A player who’s been on average ‘okay’ at the junior level, he has a lot of work to do this year to be known for more than development camp filler.
Jeff King - D - Sarnia Sting - Invite
2016/17 stats: 66GP - 14G - 42A - 56Pts
After King left the Sarnia Sting he played a few games for the Orlando Solar Bears, but never got that first pro point. He was placed on the Bears protected list, so he’s most likely back to Orlando next season.
Mac Hollowell - D - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds - Invite
2016/17 stats: 63GP - 3G - 20A - 23Pts
Another smaller defender, he is a very good skater and has a good hockey IQ behind him. His head coach in the Soo thinks he can make the pros, and this is one step towards that goal.
Reagan O'Grady - D - Sudbury Wolves - Invite
2016/17 stats: 66GP - 5G - 13A - 18Pts
Another Frontenac on the list - this one was traded away at his request - O’Grady has an offensive upside in him, but can’t get it out onto the ice. With the Wolves growing a year older, hopefully this leads to more opportunities for him as the team improves next season.
Most of these players are people to not get attached to, filler for the camp so the draft picks can get some ice time. If one or two of them become Maple Leafs, great. For now they’re trying to play their way into a rookie camp invitation.
Maple Leafs development camp begins Thursday and continues through the weekend at the Mastercard Centre in Toronto.