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UPDATED: Leafs invite OHLers Del Monte, Cato, Hardie to development camp

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The names are slowly coming out.

Niagara IceDogs v Mississauga Steelheads Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images

This morning two more names were added to the Toronto Maple Leafs development camp roster. As Katya mentions in the below article, the assumption is these invites refer to the Traverse City tournament, as there has been no announcements from the Maple Leafs regarding the usual post-draft camp.

First up we have Ryan Del Monte, who is an 18 year old 5’11” centre from the Barrie Colts. His rookie season was 2019/20 and he scored 3 goals, added 3 assists in 49 games for the only OHL team that the Maple Leafs have never drafted a player from.

He spent this past season in Europe, first playing four games for EHC Freiburg in the German division two league (no points), and then moved down to Hannover in division three where he had 3 goals and 11 assists for 14 points in 32 games.

He was born in Germany where his father David was playing in the lower German leagues until 2010.

Some highlights of Ryan:

Landon Cato is currently playing for the Niagara IceDogs of the OHL, and by currently I mean he’ll play there next season and played there in 2019/20. He did not play in any league for the 2020/21 season.

Cato is a 6’1” right handed defender from Toronto, and in his first OHL season, had played 50 games and added in two assists.

A rookie who didn’t see a lot of major events in his only OHL season, we only have training camp highlights to look at right now.

Looking at these two players, both played for the same U16 team in their OHL draft year, the Toronto Nationals AAA U16 team. It will be good for them to have a familiar face when this group gets together.

UPDATE: James Hardie also invited

Thursday evening, it was revealed that the Leafs would also invite James Hardie to their development camp. Hardie plays for the Mississauga Steelheads, and was a surprise to be undrafted in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. He’s a 6’0” winger who had 34 goals and 29 points in only 59 games in 2019/20 for his draft year. I actually wrote about Hardie as a potential late round steal going into last year’s draft, and while he was by no means a top prospect it still seemed like there was enough there to warrant a late round pick.

Being a 30+ goal scorer and point per game player in a pandemic-shortened season is one of the reasons why it was so surprising he went completely undrafted, but there were some questions about his defense, work ethic, and firing low danger shots from everywhere.

Hardie entered this season wanting to prove himself, but unfortunately as an OHL player during this season there were no games to be played. Instead, he signed an ATO with the Toronto Marlies... but didn’t get into any games with them. That’s not too unusual, the Leafs also had goalie Tristan Lennox (3rd round pick) on an ATO, and he just spent his time practicing and working out with the team and not playing in any games either.

Hardie did play at the PBHH Invitational tournament, organized by and held for all the OHL players who did not have a chance to play in Europe or the USHL. There, Hardie again shined offensively finishing with 7 goals and 6 assists in 8 games, which tied for third most. He will likely return to the OHL this season and should contend for the league lead in goals and points, being a D+2 veteran who is offensively inclined and also two years older and stronger.

In that sense, he may follow in Pavel Gogolev’s footsteps, who went undrafted after three seasons in the OHL that culminated in finishing 6th in the league in points and 4th in goals. After going undrafted, the Leafs signed him to an ATO last year and then just signed to an ELC based on a strong 13 game tryout. Hardie may wind up being taken in the next draft, but with so many undrafted prospects from the past two years due to the pandemic and a whole new draft class, chances are he could wind up being another undrafted free agent — if not with the Leafs, then someone else. But the Leafs will know a bit more about him, thanks to his time with the organization this year.