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Nicholas Grima to be invited to the Leafs development camp — report

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We haven’t even had the draft yet, and we already have invites to the development camp that follows it.

Sarnia Sting v Peterborough Petes Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Last year the Leafs post-draft development came took place in early July, right after the draft and free agency were over. The Leafs brought all their available draft picks, and we got to meet Timothy Liljegren for the first time.

But the Leafs pipeline list, even after they draft some players, is not really extensive. Most of their young guys are already on NHL deals and playing on the Marlies right now. We should expect those players to opt out of development camp.

There’s a small mixture of AHL players and a few prospects already working with the Marlies/Leafs development people, but to make those players plus the new draftees enough to hold scrimmages with, the Leafs will invite a lot of extras.

Out of last year’s list, only Kristian Pospisil ended up on an AHL deal by the end of summer.

Today it was reported that Nicholas Grima, a right-shooting defender from Toronto who has been playing with the Sarnia Sting will be in attendance.

Grima is a very similar player to Keaton Middleton. He just scores a lot less. He’s also about exactly one-year younger.

The site Prospect Stats can give you this chart:

They have shot plots now for the OHL, and what it shows is that Grima used to be a shoot from anywhere defender, and now he just shoots from the point to the total exclusion of all else. This change happened when he changed teams from Peterborough to Sarnia.

He’s not an offensive force. Prospect-Stats is building an expected goals model too, and Grima does not show well by this either.

His season-high goals is three. And it’s very difficult to judge a non-scoring defenceman without some comprehensive stats to judge his contributions to driving play and limiting shots, not just the player in isolation, but where he fits relative to his team and league norms. To guess how well he might execute defensively, you need to scout him. And that’s what a development camp is, an opportunity to be scouted, not just by the Leafs, but by others as well.

We should expect many of the names on the Leafs pipeline list to be around in a few weeks as well as most of the 2018 non-Russian drafted players. Russian seasons start much earlier, so their summer break is organized differently. We should also expect many, many more players like Grima to be invited.

And then, if we’re lucky, they’ll stream the scrimmages and we’ll have hockey in July.