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Toronto Maple Leaf prospect report: What’s next for Keaton Middleton?

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The towering defender’s rights will expire this summer.

Keaton Middleton of the Saginaw Spirit. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images
Keaton Middleton of the Saginaw Spirit. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images
Copyright 2017, Aaron Bell/OHL Images

As expected, the Sault Ste. Marie swept the Saginaw Spirit in round one of the OHL draft. Gone with the eagles is captain and 2016 Maple Leafs draft pick Keaton Middleton. We’re at a decision point with him, as he needs to be signed ahead of the 2018 entry draft, otherwise he’ll go back into the draft and if he isn’t picked, will become a free agent.

Middleton is an interesting player, and someone I would like to see develop in the Leafs system, even if it’s just on an AHL deal. Right now the Marlies are loaded up with D, but not all will be around next year. If the Leafs want to see more of him, he’ll be signed to an ATO sooner than later. If he doesn’t join the Marlies, it may not be a good sign.

Ontario Hockey League

#77 - Eemeli Räsänen (D) - 0G, 0A, -1
Kingston Frontenacs
Defeat the North Bay Battalion 4-1 in the first round.

March 27th: @ North Bay Battalion
W 4-1 - 0G, 0A, -1
March 29th: @ North Bay Battalion
W 6-3 - No Points
March 31st: vs North Bay Battalion
W 6-5 3OT - No Points

The Frontenacs make it to the second round for the second year in a row, something that hasn’t been accomplished since the 85/86 and 86/87 seasons. Eemeli hasn’t been an offensive weapon in this series, but he’s kept the Battalion at bay while he’s been on the ice.

The Frontenacs will begin round two against the Barrie Colts later this week.

#55 - Keaton Middleton (D) - 0G, 0A, +1
Saginaw Spirit
Swept by the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in round one

March 26th: vs Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
L 7-3 - No Points
March 28th: vs Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
L 5-3 - 0G, 0A, +1

Middleton’s season is over, and as mentioned above, the Leafs need to make a decision on whether to sign him or not. If not, he’ll go back into the draft in June.

#19 - Ryan McGregor (F) - 2G, 2A, +5
Sarnia Sting
Defeated the Windsor Spitfires in six games.

March 27th: @ Windsor Spitfires
W 5-3 - 0G, 1A, +1
March 29th: @ Windsor Spitfires
L 3-1 - 1G, 0A, +1
March 30th: vs Windsor Spitfires
W 4-2 - 0G, 1A, +1
April 1st: @ Windsor Spitfires
W 5-2 - 1G, 0A, +2

The Sting won as expected, but the Spitfires didn’t always make it easy. As both McGregor and Rasanen move on in the playoffs, this is the first time that both Kingston and Sarnia advance to the second round in the same post-season.

#52 - Nicolas Mattinen (D) - 2G, 1A, +2
Hamilton Bulldogs
Defeated the Ottawa 67’s in 5 games

March 27th: @ Ottawa 67’s
W 8-1 - 0G, 1A, +2
March 28th: @ Ottawa 67’s
W 5-2 - 2G, 0A, +1
March 30th: vs Ottawa 67’s
W 4-1 - 0G, 0A, -1

An amazing two goal performance was tops for Mattinen as the Bulldogs win their first playoff series since moving from Belleville. Their next opponent: the Niagara IceDogs.


Western Hockey League

#33 - Ian Scott (G) - 128sv, 144sh, .875s%
Prince Albert Raiders
Lost series to Moose Jaw Warriors 4-3

March 27th: vs Moose Jaw Warriors
L 5-4 OT - 40sv, 45sh, .889sv%
March 28th: vs Moose Jaw Warriors
L 2-0 - 20sv, 21sh, .952sv%
March 31st: @ Moose Jaw Warriors
W 5-1 - 31sv, 32sh, .969sv%
April 1st: vs Moose Jaw Warriors
W 5-4 - 16sv, 20sh, .800sv%
April 3rd: @ Moose Jaw Warriors
L 5-4 - 21sv, 26sh, .808sv%

Penalties did in the Raiders, as Moose Jaw scored back to back powerplay goals to take control of the game. While the Raiders did tie things up with a short handed goal, that was it as the Warriors score a third powerplay goal to win game seven and the series.

We were one save away from a Cinderella story for Prince Albert, but they would fall in seven games. The first five games had Scott carrying the team on his back, but the weight would be too much and the Moose JAw offense would prove to be too much for the Prince Albert defence to handle. They should be proud of how well they played, and take these lessons into next season


Junior A

#24 - Ryan O'Connell (D) - Injured
Penticton Vees, BCHL
Lost series vs Trail Smoke Eaters 4-2

O’Connell is injured and may miss the remainder of the season.

The Vees lost in round two to Trail. O’Connell can now focus solely on his rehab to be ready for this fall, and starting at Boston University.


NCAA

#8 - Dakota Joshua (F)
Ohio State Buckeyes

The Buckeyes had the week off to prepare for their Frozen Four game against Minnestoa-Duluth on April 5th.


Completed Seasons

#14 - JD Greenway (D)
Wisconsin Badgers

#13 - Nolan Vesey (F)
Maine Black Bears

#15 - Fedor Gordeev (D)
Flint Firebirds

#31 - Joseph Woll (G)
Boston College Eagles