The Toronto Maple Leafs recently announced their roster for the 2023 development camp that begins on Monday, July 3rd. For those who missed our earlier post, here is the full roster:
Let's look at all of the players, and I'll break them down into two groups – the guys already part of the Maple Leafs either by contract or by the draft – and the camp invites who have no official association with the team.... yet.
First, we have all of Toronto's current prospects – either because they were drafted, signed to an ELC, or already part of their Marlies or Growlers rosters in the minors. I'll add a few short notes on them, because at this point we know who they are. I'm mostly interested in what I want to see from them in these games, which we should still not take very seriously considering how non-competitive they mostly are.
Roni Hirvonen – I am interested to see what Hirvonen can do in North America for the first time. Unlike Niemelä, he never got into any AHL games and I don't remember him being part of any past dev camps – mostly due to the pandemic, and the Finnish season starting up around the time Toronto has been able to have these rookie camps. He'll have something to prove after only modest growth in the Liiga. I want to see him look more involved in play and be a leader on the ice – he'll be one of the older prospects, and the most experienced in high level pro play. He should be one of Toronto's best forwards on the ice.
Joe Miller – Miller had a strong freshman season at Harvard this past year, where he got to play on their top line with some other top prospects. Pretty much all of Harvard's top scorers ahead of Miller left college and turned pro, so Miller will get a bigger role and the expectation to carry the team. It will be interesting to see how well he can do that, since he's shown he works better as the support himself.
Easton Cowan – Our newest top prospect. He got rave reviews for being a little motorbug all over the ice, speedy and relentless on his forecheck and smart and creative with his play making. He'll be fun to watch. I basically just want to see him play live for the first time and form some of my first impressions of him.
Braeden Kressler – An interesting prospect to watch who has looked good in flashes in the OHL, but has been constantly injured. A good run of regular health will help him as he likely joins the AHL/ECHL this year. I hope he can look healthy and eager to put on a show.
Fraser Minten – Our top draft pick from last year, he'll likely play a top role with some of Toronto's other top prospects. Not really looking for much, maybe just being more involved offensively at 5v5 and showing more of the passing and playmaking he had in his draft year.
Brandon Lisowski – Our 7th round pick from last year, a small sniper who filled the net a lot last year but needs to work on the rest of his game. I want to see him look more zippy, more of a dual threat with the puck, and have more effort without the puck.
Nick Moldenhauer – Our 3rd round pick from last year who had a big breakout in the USHL last year, and parlayed that into an NCAA commitment to Michigan in the NCAA which is one of the top programs in college hockey. He should be fun to watch and one of the top players.
Hudson Malinoski – Our other new forward prospect drafted this year, he gets strong reviews for his power game, relentless skating (with funky mechanics) and great shot – especially on the powerplay. Will be interesting to see who he plays with, and I want to see how his skating looks specifically because I've read contradicting things.
Ryan Tverberg – He'll be a fan favourite with the Marlies this year after finishing a strong NCAA career. He's fast and skates hard. He has a good shot and showed improved skill handling and passing the puck, but he still projects mostly to an energetic supporting guy in the bottom six. We'll get an idea for how he stacks up as a prospect based on how he fares in camp and in his first full AHL season.
Veeti Miettinen – A bit of a fallen asset. Miettinen looked fun and interesting after his first NCAA season, but since then hasn't really shown any growth or improvements. He's small, he skates okay but not well enough for his size, and he still has a wicked wrist shot that is limited by his inability to create better shot opportunities around the defenses in front of him. He could use a good camp and hopefully shows some more speed and maneuverability, and some improved puckhandling.
Ty Voit – One of our top forward prospects, he'll be joining the Marlies this year and could look very dangerous next to some of Toronto's goal scoring threats in this camp. He'll be given a top role, especially on the powerplay. I want to see him be more elusive and avoid getting crunched by big hits like he has the past two camps, where his size has been holding him back when playing against other top prospects who were mostly older than him. Now, he'll be in the middle or a bit older, and he should start looking more dominant.
Mike Koster – An interesting and perhaps underrated prospect in Toronto's system. He's small for a defenseman and doesn't really have a lot of standout skills, which will probably hold him back from being a regular NHLer. He moves the puck well, but isn't an elite skater that you'd want a smaller defenseman to have. He defends well with smarts and stickwork, but that only goes so far. He could be a fun AHLer eventually, however.
Noah Chadwick – Our newest defense prospect, Chadwick is a big boy (6'4") but still a scrawny for his height. He got strong scouting reports from the likes of Elite Prospects for his creativity handling and passing the puck, and for his transition defense. The big limiting factor for him has been his skating, which Toronto is well equipped to help fix. The more it can be improved, the better his shot of becoming an NHLer thanks to his tools.
Topi Niemelä – Our top defense prospect in the system, he looked good right away when he joined the Marlies late in the season and through their playoff run. His offense still looks miles better than when he was drafted, and he'll likely be the Marlies top pair defenseman and PP1 quarterback. The one thing I really want him to show is that he's working hard to add more muscle, get stronger, and add some explosiveness to his skating and shot. The strength will only help his defense, where he generally makes good decisions but has been more limited defensively. I've said he's small not because of his height (5'11") but because he's always been pretty light and lanky.
John Fusco – A late round pick in 2020 that's bounced around the NCAA, starting at Harvard and moving to Dartmouth College... which is not exactly a top program in a tough division. He's a 5'11" right shot defenseman who is now 22 years old, and is coming off a season with 11 points in 22 games. Pretty much a non-prospect at this point, he could use a good camp and a breakout season in the NCAA.
Jonny Tychonick – Tychonick is a former Sens prospect drafted in the 2nd round of the 2018 NHL draft. He's now a 23 year old left shot defenseman, 6'0", who played for five years in the NCAA before joining the Newfoundland Growlers in the ECHL to end this past season. He had 16 points in 15 games on their playoff run, and I presume he will return there next year.
Artur Akhtyamov – It's interesting to see Akhtyamov in camp, given he's been playing in Russia and does not have a contract with Toronto... at least not yet. He is coming off a truly excellent season in the VHL, Russia's second tier pro league, where led the league in save percentage. There was a rumour a couple of weeks ago that he will sign an ELC with Toronto, and they might just be waiting for July 1st to come when some of Toronto's expiring contracts come off the books and they have the SPC spots to sign him.
Vyacheslav Peksa – The other of Toronto's Russian goalie prospects. He's a year younger than Akhtyamov, and also played in the VHL last season. He also had a very good season, even if it wasn't as good as Akhtyamov's. Given how both Peksa and Akhtyamov have been blocked from getting a real run in the KHL, I'm curious if either of them will either be loaned to the Marlies or whose Russian contracts have expired and they will come over. If they wind up moving on from Murray or Samsonov and Woll becomes the Maple Leafs' backup, there will be a spot for them with the Marlies potentially.
Luke Cavallin – Cavallin has been an AHL/ECHL signing who was signed after finishing his OHL career with Flint. He wound up playing as part of netminding duo with Dryden McKay, and honestly looked like the better goalie through a lot of the season. He had a .917 sv% in 35 games in the regular season, and a .925 sv% in 6 playoff games, which were both well ahead of McKay. He may compete for an AHL spot, but is likely to return to the ECHL.
THE NEW INVITES
Here we have all of the invites to the development camp that have no formal association with the Maple Leafs, at least not yet. There are 23 names on this list, which is quite a lot. I am too lazy to look it up but I'm thinking this is the biggest dev camp roster Toronto has had the past few years.
These are the playoffs Toronto could, in theory, sign to ELCs like they did with Braeden Kressler a few years ago following a dev camp where he looked like one of the best forwards on the ice. There are a couple of players below who I am intrigued by as potential players who may show they deserve a contract, and I will indicate how interested I am to watch them.
Alex Assadourian – Assadourian is a July 2005 birthday, making him first-time eligible for this year's draft. He's a tiny 5'8" left winger who played on the tire fire Niagara IceDogs in the OHL after being traded from Sudbury. Ask Adam just how insanely bad and dysfunctional they've been the past few years. He had 33 points in 33 games for Niagara, with not great tracking data but I presume it would be very hard to look good on that team. I am mildly interested.
Mathieu De St. Phalle – He was invited to their development camp last year as well, now a 23 year old 5'10" winger who used to play for the Chicago Steel and now spent the past three seasons with Wisconsin in the NCAA. He somehow managed 30 points in 36 games on a tire fire of a team, good for second on the team. I doubt he's signing any deal now, and will return for his final season in the hopes of getting a pro contract after it. Not that interested.
Jacob Frasca – Frasca is actually a previous invite to the Maple Leafs' development camp back in 2021. He's a 6'4" center who is now 20 years old after finishing his D+2 season, and just finished a career year with 69 points in 68 regular season games and then 10 points in 13 playoff games for Barrie. He was their top center in all situations, and had the third most points on the team alongside two other forwards his same age. Mild interest.
Benjamin Rautiainen – Rautiainen is a June 2005 birthday, making him first-time eligible for this year's draft. He is a 6'0" forward playing in Finland's U20 junior league, where he had 25 points in 30 games and 10 points in 12 playoff games – the most playoff points by an U18 player in the league. He also added 5 points in 4 games for Finland's U20 team. His tracking data for a less good junior league isn't very rosy though, so call me somewhat interested.
Tyson Greenway – Tyson is cousins to NHLer Jordan Greenway, and former Leafs' draft pick James Greenway. He's a 6'1" winger, now 20 years old after his D+2 season, and finished with 42 points in 68 games on Tri-City in the WHL. His tracking data is very poor, and a younger teammate of his looks better by points and tracking data. Not interested.
Landon McCallum – McCallum is a 5'11" center with a September 5th 2003 birthday, making him a D+2 re-entry this year but only 10 days from being only a D+1. He played on Sudbury in the OHL and finished with 61 points in 68 games, good for 3rd on the team despite having only 12 powerplay points. He looks to have played in a mix of all situations, including short handed where he had two points. He actually has pretty good tracking data. Call me interested.
Matthew Sop – Sop is a 6'0" left wing who finished his D+2 season this year. He played for Kitchener in the OHL the past two years, and had 56 points in 67 regular season games then 7 points in 9 playoff games. He has okay tracking data, except some really bad defense. Not very interested.
Luke Haymes – Haymes is a D+2 prospect, though he is relatively young thanks to a late July birthday. He's a 6'1" center who played for Dartmouth College in the NCAA this past season, where he had 16 points in 30 games after an okay BCHL season the year before. Darmouth was a low scoring team, and is now the school that John Fusco plays on so I'm assuming that's how the Leafs found him. Not very interested.
Daegen McMillan – McMillan is a 6'1" winger who played for Tri-City in the WHL. He was first-time eligible for this year's draft, and finished 8th on the team in points with 47 in 65 games. He looks to have played in the middle six with some, but not a lot, of powerplay time. His tracking data shows him to be solid on transitions, okay offensively but poor defensively. Mild interest.
Isac Hedqvist – Hedqvist is a 5'11" center/left wing prospect who was first-time eligible for the draft this year. He was actually ranked by a number of outlets, including 107th by Elite Prospects, making him arguably the best prospect among the invites. He had 34 points in 41 games in Sweden's junior league, and got into 6 SHL games for Lulea. EP liked his ability to get the puck into the middle with clever passing. Definitely keep an eye on him, and count me as very interested.
Matthew Henry – Henry is a 6'0" forward who played on Brandon in the WHL. He had 140 penalty minutes in 57 games, and only two points. He also has the worst tracking data I've ever seen, so we know what his 'role' is. Not interested at all.
Marco Mignosa – Mignosa was a first-time eligible prospect in this year's draft, playing for the Soo Greyhounds in the OHL – I don't know if I'm allowed to make a Soo joke now that Dubas isn't with the Leafs anymore. He's a 6'0" right winger who finished 7th on his team with 37 points in 68 games. His tracking data looks okay, and it looks like he probably was only given a middle six role and probably secondary PP time at most. Mildly interesting.
Tyler Weiss – Weiss (if I am looking up the right one) is a 5'10" center/left winger who finished up a 5 year NCAA career with Nebraska-Omaha. He had 27 points in 37 games, and only six goals. Given his size, age, and point production in a less competitive conference in college I'm thinking there isn't much there, but we'll see. Mild interest.
Gianfranco Cassaro – Okay, first of all that's an A+ name. Cassaro is a 24 year old left shot defenseman who played for the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in the NCAA. He finished his fourth season in college, the first two coming with UMass and the last two coming from RIT. At this point it's probably safe to assume he would at best be an ECHL signing. Mild interest.
Spencer Sova – Sova is a 6'1" left shot defenseman who played for Erie in the OHL in his D+1 season this year. He had 16 goals and 39 points in 68 games, but his tracking data looks pretty meh. He was a former 8th overall pick into the OHL, but hasn't really developed a lot since then. Not very interested.
Lucas Moore – Moore is a 5'10" right shot defenseman who was first-time eligible for this year's draft, making him the same age as Easton Cowan. In fact, with a June birthday he's a bit younger. He played on Hamilton in the OHL, where he had 28 points in 65 games but had 6 points in 6 games for the playoffs. He played a more limited role as a smaller, younger defensemen until they traded some of their better players halfway through the season. His tracking data looks... not good. Not interesting.
Albin Sundin – First of all, no relation to Mats. He's a 6'2" right shot defenseman from Sweden with an August 2004 birthday, making him a D+1 re-entry for this year's draft but a very young one. He played for Frolunda's junior and SHL pro team – 21 points in 36 games in junior, and zero points in 10 games in the SHL playing very limited minutes. He did also play for Sweden's U19 team and had 4 points in 7 games. I can't find much about him, but I am interested by what I see. He is interesting.
Nolan Dillingham – He appears to have changed his name to Nolan Dillingham-Morelli, but I know of him from his time with Sarnia. He is a 21 year old 6'1" defenseman who shoots right, and finished his OHL career captaining the Sarnia Sting. Toronto will have seen him a bunch following Ty Voit's OHL career. He had 14 points in 45 games in the regular season, then 6 points in 12 playoff games. He profiles very heavily as a defensive defenseman, but could make for an interesting AHL/ECHL signing. Mild interest.
Pier-Olivier Roy – Roy has a link to Toronto via Mikhail Abramov, who played together in Roy's rookie QMJHL season and Abramov's final junior season. He finished with 68 points in 68 games this past season, despite not being their top PP defenseman. He played in all situations, including 4 short handed points and the best +/- on the team if that's your thing. He could be an interesting AHL signing and someone to watch at this camp. Mild interest.
Pito Walton – Walton is a 6'2" right shot defenseman who is now 23 years old, after finishing a four year career with Princeton University in the NCAA. He had a career high 21 points in 32 games as a 23 year old. Can't really read much into what's easily findable about him, but may wind up being one of many college signings to AHL/ECHL deals. Not very interested.
Rastislav Elias – Elias is a 6'3" Slovakian goalie who played in in the USHL this past season for his D+1 season. He was one of Slovakia's top goalies internationally the season before last, but that stopped this season. He had some ugly numbers the past two years in the USHL, a 4.49 GAA and .864 sv% two years ago and then a 4.07 GAA and .864 sv% last season. Both times he played on the worst teams in the league. This season he is set to play in Finland. He did have good numbers back in Europe before, so he could be interesting to watch. It's hard to take much from his numbers on really bad teams.
Austin Elliott – Elliott was the main goalie for the Saskatoon Blades this past year, so I'm guessing Toronto saw a fair amount of him while keeping tabs on Brandon Lisowsky and eventually Josh Pillar. He's another D+1 guy who had a .911 sv% in 37 games as their main starter in the regular season, and had an .882 in 11 playoff games. His numbers took a big hit in their final round against the WHL's top ranked team from the regular season where they got just demolished. He's a bit of a smaller goalie at 6'1", but finished with the third best sv% in the WHL for U19 goalies.
Samuel St-Hilaire – Sam is a 6'2" goalie who was a D+1 prospect going into the 2023 draft. He played for the Sherbrooke Phoenix in the QMJHL, his first season in a major junior league. He had a .903 sv% in 29 games in the regular season, and a .935 sv% in 3 playoff games. He had the most starts on the team, but wound up being the backup after they traded for a better/older/more experienced 21 year old goalie. He did finish with the third best save percentage in the league for U19 goalies, just like Elliott.