Confession; I struggle writing about the prospects in the system who come over from Europe.
It shouldn't really come as a surprise. It's tough to find too much game action on television for the leagues these sorts of players populate, and I'm not really in the habit of scouring the Internet for streams of Swedish U20 leagues. We (the panel) don't often have much more to go on than small snippets of information, maybe a brief glance during a World Junior tournament, and that's it.
So if you sat here and asked me, what has Fabrice Herzog done to justify a move up to #19 on our list, I don't know that I have all that great an answer for you.
|Height:||188 cm / 6'2"||Weight:||86 kg / 190 lbs|
|Youth Team:||EHC Frauenfeld||Contract:||14/15|
|Drafted:||2013 round 5 #142 overall by Toronto Maple Leafs|
That's not to say he's a complete mystery of a player. We know what we read, and what we can see from his statistics. But can anyone say they know the quality of the Swiss U20 league, or how to compare that to any other junior league in North America? I don't. Herzog was clearly a top player for Zug's U20 squad, leading to him getting selected by the Leafs in the 5th round of the 2013 Draft, and in an effort to advance his career prospects, he moved to North America and joined the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL.
Herzog put up 58 points in 61 games with the Remparts, a good not great showing. What I can gather is that Herzog didn't dominate to the same extent as in Switzerland, but on a Remparts team featuring Mikhail Grigorenko, Adam Erne and others, Herzog was a secondary scoring threat. The transition from Europe to North America also may hav e played a factor, but it's the sort of thing that seems to affect players differently, and you can't give too much slack to a player who turned 19 years old during the season.
By now you can probably tell I'm still not sure what to make of Herzog. And that was a key reason why I wanted to bring in opinions from other sources, from guys who see these players way more than our voters have the opportunity to see these guys play, to understand what makes them potentially NHLers in the future. Corey Pronman of ESPN thankfully gave us a bit more insight on Herzog.
Herzog (I ranked him 12th in the Leafs' system) grew on me as the season went on. He's a got a nice 6-2/6-3 frame, and is not exceptionally skilled, but skates and handles the puck well for his size, and has some finishing ability.
The interesting thing with Herzog is that the Maple Leafs still control his rights, but Herzog, who also saw 5 games with the Toronto Marlies, has returned home to Switzerland, where he will play for Zug's senior team in the Swiss League. This is an interesting twist, in particular since the Remparts are hosting this season's Memorial Cup. I can't help but wonder what led to this decision, as well as what it means for Herzog's future with the Maple Leafs organization. Do the Leafs have interest? Did he consult the Leafs when deciding to return to Europe?
Time will tell whether Herzog has a future with the NHL or not. For now, he's back to being a prospect we don't know very much about, playing in a league we won't get to see a lot of.
|Name||birky||BowerPower||Burtch||Chemmy||clrkaitken||Nikota||PPP||SkinnyFish||67 Sound||FINAL RANK|
His QMJHL numbers didn't blow me out of the water, and i don't know what to make of him going back to Switzerland. I don't know, I left Hartikainen and Kozun off my list because of concerns that the Leafs don't intend to have any future with him, and the same thoughts apply here to Herzog. - clrkaitken
Dominated a lesser junior league, and his numbers levelled off against tougher competition. Very similar development (so far) to a guy like Dominic Toninato - JP Nikota
Herzog saw a pretty major rise in this edition's countdown, jumping 12 spots in total as he went from a guy who didn't register on most people's lists, to a fixture on most countdowns (which again speaks to the shallowness of the Maple Leafs prospect pool more than anything). Herzog was four points behind our #18 entry, so you have to imagine being left off of two lists hurt his chances of progressing further. He also holds the distinction of being the last person on our list that didn't receive votes from anyone; everyone from here on in is a unanimous selection to somewhere in the Top 25.