Friday, September 17, 2010

Leafs prospects

So - there are a few reports that are exciting for us Leafs fans moving forward. Of course, with the preseasaon and training camp and the rookie tournament right now - it's all about the prospects and not about the new additions (yet).

I've spent too much time on the site, "Hockey's Future" and reviewing what their interpretations of the players are. Much of their data is superficial (especially on the youngest or newest prospects of which they know very little). Not to be rude - it's a great site, it's just that most of the prospects do not have a deep and thorough account, thus merely superficial.

Anyhow - as reviewed earlier - we've seen what the prospects are expected to be like from Hockey's Future. To recap:
1: Nazim Kadri (First round, 7th overall, 2009)
The hope for the future. This is the Leafs premiere prospect - he's the talent that's going to come from within. After dealing away any possibly offensive help from Chris DiDomenico and Viktor Stalberg, Kadri and Bozak are the Leafs hope.
Prospect Ranking: 1
Rating: 8.0 C

2: Jonas Gustavsson (Free agent, 2009)
He's still listed as a prospect, despite already serving as a bonafide back up last season. And if not for the heart surgery every once in a while, he'd likely have been anointed the starter over POS Toskala.
Prospect Ranking: 2
Rating: 8.0 C

3: Tyler Bozak (Free agent, 2009)
This is the make-or-break year for Bozak, I think. Same with Christian Hanson. Can he make the strides necessary to show that he's got a future in the league? He'll be given every chance to make it happen (including being ranked as the No. 1 in depth at Centre-ice on the team - YIKES!)
Prospect Ranking: 3
Rating: 7.0 B

4: Carl Gunnarsson (Drafted 7th round, 194th overall, 2007)
Two tickets to the Gunn show. I'm looking forward to seeing what he can dish out this season, though on a crowded blue-line, he may get no ice-time and wind up as trade bait for offensive support last on (probably in a package-deal). More likely to move this prospect than Kaberle or Komisarek (the only other attractive dealable players the Leafs might move for realistic help up front).
Prospect Ranking: 4
Rating: 7.0 B

*5: Jussi Rynnas (signed as a free agent, 2010)
Prospect Ranking: 5
Acquired: Free agent out of Finland, late last April.
Rating: 7.5 C

6: Luca Caputi (Drafted 4th round, 111th overall, 2007)

Prospect Ranking: 6
Acquired: 2010 Trade with Pittsburgh for Alexei Ponikarovsky
Rating: 7.0 C

*7: Brad Ross (Drafted 2nd round, 43rc overall, 2010)

Prospect Ranking: 7
Acquired: 2010 Trade with Chicago for Jimmy "Purple" Hayes. 6-5, 7.0 C player.
Rating: 7.0 C (also)

8: Jerry D'Amigo (Drafted 6th round, 158th overall, 2009)
Prospect Ranking: 8
Acquired: the 2009 draft, 6th round
Rating: 7.0 C

9: Keith Aulie (Drafted 4th round, 116th overall, 2007)
Since the summer, Keith Aulie's depth on the Top Prospect list has dropped from 6th overall to 9th overall. This likely is due to the inclusion of Jussi Rynnas, Brad Ross and Jerry D'Amigo making great strides over the summer.
Prospect Ranking: 9
Acquired: The Phaneuf trade with Calgary, 2009.
Rating: 7.0 C

10: James Reimer (Drafted 4th round, 99th overall, 2006)
Prospect Ranking: 10
Rating: 7.0 C
Size: 6'2 - 208 lbs - goalie
Now, The Hockey News's "Future Watch Zone" tells a different story for the rankings of the prospects for the Leafs. They read as such (all credit to The Hockey News for this research):

1. Nazem Kadri (spells Nazem differently than Hockey Futures).
A gifted scorer with soft hands, Kadri narrowly missed making the Leafs last year. The speedy center added much-needed weight during the off season. His versatility and drive make him a constant offensive threat. Projected to make the team this year.

2. Luca Caputi
Sizeable winger can create traffic in front of the net. Projected to make the team this year.

3. Brad Ross
Tenacious, in-your-face player can put up PIMs and points. Projected to make the club in 2013-14

4. James Reimer
A big body in net, Reimer isn't afraid to challenge shooters. Projected to make the club in 2012-13.

5. Keith Aulie
Towering D-man moves well for his size and demonstrates good skills. Projected to make the club in 2012-13.

6. Jerry D'Amigo
Sturdy winger can rise to the occasion and get it done when it counts. Projected to make the club in 2013-14.

7. Marcel Mueller
Rugged power forward was on German Olympic team. Projected to make the club in 2012-13.

8. Greg McKegg
Good passer and scorer with two-way center potential. Projected to make the club in 2014-15.

9. Juraj Mikus
Big guy has exceptional puck skills, but still needs to fill out. Projected to make the club in 2012-13.

10. Sondre Olden
Hard working, two-way player needs time to develop. Projected to make the club in 2014-15.

This ranking tells us a few things. That offensive help won't be coming out of the draft in any other form than Kadri or Caputi. No one else is expected to make the team for another two years! At which point the roster will have to be able to yield to a goalie (Reimer), two defenseman (Aulie and Mikus) and a left winger (Mueller). After that, those prospects will push out a few regulars and yield room for the rest of the old drafted rooks with another left winger (Ross), a right winger (D'Amigo). They won't have a drafted prospect for centre until McKegg comes through in 2014!

So - they're stuck with Bozak, Kadri and Grabovski to carry the load unless a trade or free agent signing is possible. Nothing is coming to help motivate or challenge them to be better than the next guy for a long time.

How about gifted centre-man Taylor Seguin now? The Leafs would have been desperate for the second-overall choice, no doubt!

Reasons for disparity among the lists?
As I've mentioned earlier - Hockey Future's website is a bit behind the pack. They haven't really updated their thousands of pages thoroughly yet. No doubt, it must be intensely laborious to update (in detail) the ratings of all of these prospects - and keeping up to date with all the trades that occur around prospects as well.

In any case, Gustavsson, Bozak and Gunnarsson are not considered prospects in THN's list, which Hockey Future keeps them as so. This significantly affects the top 5 of the list. THN likes Caputi much more than HF - 2. v. 6. Goalie Rynnas is ranked 5th, behind four NHLers, while THN doesn't even list him in the top 10? So, very interesting differences in opinion.

Kadri making the team?
There has been some talk on the radio stations that you still have Kadri develop a little in the minors for the beginning of the season, even though the Leafs need offensive creativity like a fish needs water. An NHL position is his to lose - BUT might he really not make the team? Well - TSN doesn't think so.

They have released their project top scorers for this season, topping the charts are Ovechkin, Crosby and Sedin - no surprise. Kessel comes in later in the season: 32 goals, 59 points and only 77 games played. That's fine - 60th overall in the league. Here's the important part - Kadri is listed 111th overall: 78 GPs, 18 goals, 51 points overall (second in team scoring for the franchise in his rookie year). Obviously TSN has faith that Kadri comes in and is a regular contributor ("regular by comparison to other Leafs, not the NHL standard).

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