Sunday, September 5, 2010

The top prospects heading into training camp

It's almost training camp time for the Maple Leafs, a time when the entire season is ahead of us and we can be optimistic and hopeful and interested in the new players that have been brought into the system. That being said, let's take a look at the top ten prospects for the Leafs. ***s will indicate a new acquisition since the end of last season.

To note: we've had to remove some of the prospects from earlier lists because of Burke trades. For example, Burke moved Viktor Stalberg
[Viktor Stalberg (Drafted 6th round, 161st overall, 2006); Prospect Ranking: 5; Rating: 7.5 C; Size: 6'3 - 191 lbs - forward; He'd spent all of his time in the Marlies' system until last season when he broke out for 40 NHL games, scoring 9 goals and 14 points. Notably, he had terrific speed. Like many rookies, he suffered through injuries most likely because he is still a bit unprepared to compete at the NHL level. His ratings have improved from a 7.5 D to a 7.5 C - so there's more hope that he can last in the NHL. His ratings suggest he's unlikely to reach his potential as a first/second line player, and could possibly drop to a third/fourth line player.]
Phillipe Paradis
[Phillipe Paradis (Drafted First round, 27th overall, 2009); Acquired: in the Jiri Tlustly trade in 2009; Prospect Ranking: 13; Rating: 6.5 C (vs. Tlusty - drafted 13th overall - who's still listed as an 8.0 C); Size: 6'2, 195 lbs. - forward. May reach potential of being a second or third line player, but could wind up just being a prime minor leaguer. In four games with the Marlies, he only had 2 assists, but racked up 104 PIM and 44 points in 63 games in the QMJHL last season.]
and Chris DiDomenico
[Chris DiDomenico (6th round, 164th overall, 2007) Prospect Ranking: 12; Rating: 7.0 D; Size: 5'11 - 165 lbs.; He's unlikely to reach his potential of being a second line forward, and thus is likely to drop to being a minor leaguer for his career. In the Q last season he racked up only 7 goals, but he manged a whopping 22 points while only playing 12 games last season. He followed that up with anothe r21 points in 14 games in the playoffs. His ratings has actually dropped from a C-level to a D-level since 2008. His short season has lowered his ranking from two seasons ago from 7.5 to only 7.0 suggesting it's more likely he'll never be a second line player.]
In exchange for *Kris Versteeg and *Billy Sweatt (who is still listed as merely a "notable" prospect on the Vancouver Canuck's roster). So - perhaps not likely to be a star player. However, Versteeg is!

So - we can see that this list is going to be overturned quite a bit as a result of these transactions. That's okay - here we go.
here's a link to all of the prospects from before the draft. Half of the players listed in the top 20 prospects are already playing for the team, which demonstrates the drastic absence of depth on the team.
To recall, the rating system works on a scale out of 10:
10 = Generational talent. [like the Great One]
9 = Elite player. [like Joe Sakic / Rob Blake / Martin Brodeur]
8 = First line forward / No. 2 defenseman /No. 1 goaltender [Patrik Elias / Mattias Ohlund / Olaf Kolzig]
7 = Second line forward / No. 3-4 defenseman / journeyman No. 1 goalie [Jason Arnott / Darryl Sydor / Dwayne Rolosson]
6 = Third line forward / No. 5-6 defenseman / backup goalie
5 = Fourth line forward / No. 7 defenseman / depth goalie
4 = Top minor leaguer
3 = Average minor leaguer
2 = Minor league roll player
1 = borderline minor leaguer
Potential ratings:
A = All but guaranteed to reach potential.
B = Should reach potential, could drop one rating
C = May reach potential, could drop two ratings
D = Unlikely to reach potential, could drop three ratings
F = Possessing little potential
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
Size: 6'1 - 177 lbs - forward
May reach potential as a first line forward, but could fall to a third-liner, potentially.
Last season he scored 35 goals, 58 assists and 93 points in 56 games with the London Knights, ranking 5th in league scoring, including a dominating 9 goals and 27 points in only 12 playoff games in the OHL. He scored 10 more goals and 15 more points this season than he did in his previous season.

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
Size: 6'3 - 181 lbs - goalie
May reach potential as No. 1 goalie, but could fall to backup goalie (esp. if his heart condition isn't solved). Last season he jumped directly into the NHL without any time in the minors. As an injury plagued rookie on the second worst team in the NHL, he had a 16, 15 and 9 record with a 2.87 GAA and .902 SV%.

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
Size: 6'1 - 180 lbs - forward
Should reach potential as a second line forward, but could slip down to a third line forward. His rankings have improved from a 6.0 C after scoring 8 goals and 27 points in only 37 games in the NHL. It was regarded as a positive that he skills proved more valuable at the NHL level than in the minors where he only scored 4 goals and 20 points in 32 games.

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
Size: 6'2 - 189 lbs - defenseman
Should reach potential as No. 3-4 defenseman, but could slip down to a No. 5-6 defenseman. His rankings have improved from a very poor 5.5 D (in June 2008) when they had little hope for him. Gunnarsson had some difficultly with injuries as an NHLer this season, but was dependalbe with 15 points in 43 games, and was able to throw some memorable bodychecks without getting into penalty trouble.

*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
Size: 6-5, 205 lbs - goalie. He has the same birthday as me, I just have six years on him. Thus, I'm the winner.
May reach his potential as a No. 1 goalie, but could slip down to the position of depth goalie. He's been called the "Jonas Gustavsson of Finland" so - we'll see how this works out. He already rocks a porn-stash.

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

Prospect Ranking: 6
Acquired: 2010 Trade with Pittsburgh for Alexei Ponikarovsky
Rating: 7.0 C
Size: 6-2, 184 lbs.
He may reach his potential as a second line forward but could slip down to the position of fourth line forward. He's got to fill out, speed up and get some games under his belt. He's expected to be every bit as good as Ponikarovsky was when he left the franchise, except in a couple of years, when the Leafs are on schedule to be a contender once again.

*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)
Size: 6-1, 173 lbs. (smaller than Hayes)
Considered one of the hardest players to play against in the WHL, Ross brings energy and grit to the mix, which sometimes makes it easy for his offensive prowess to be overlooked. An in-your-face forward who’s relentless on the ice, his presence helps create open ice for his ultra-skilled linemates. (This would be the Burke-style of play he's been looking for).

8: Jerry D'Amigo (Drafted 6th round, 158th overall, 2009)
Prospect Ranking: 8
Acquired: the 2009 draft, 6th round
Rating: 7.0 C
Size: 5'10 - 196 lbs - forward
May reach potential of a second line player, but could drop fourth liner if he doesn't pan out. In college he scored 10 goals and 34 points in 35 games at the NCAA level, where the Leafs have been scouting a lot of their free agents from. D'Amigo also played quite a bit for the US National Under-18 Team. He's made some strides in the past few months, climbing the charts from 10th overall to 8th and improved his potential rating by a half point. So his stock is on the rise. He's been a fantastic leader with the U.S. National Under-18 team scoring 61 points in 53 games, including 23 goals last season. This is a premiere team in the U.S. and he's among the best scorers at that level.

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
Size: 6'5 - 208 lbs - defenseman
He's a westerner who was injured at the time of the trade and hasn't done much to contribute with the Marlies just yet. He may reach his potential of being a No. 3-4 defenseman, but could drop to a No. 7 defenseman if he doesn't pan out.

10: James Reimer (Drafted 4th round, 99th overall, 2006)
Prospect Ranking: 10
Rating: 7.0 C
Size: 6'2 - 208 lbs - goalie
He may reach his potential of being a No. 1 goalie, but could drop to a depth goalie if he doesn't pan out. His stock has risen just a little from 6.5 C back in 2008, as he pitched in 25 games, 14 wins and a very solid 2.25 GAA and .925 SV%. His stock likely increased as he found himself in a better role after splitting 2008-09 between the Marlies, the Reading Royals and the South Carolina Stingrays with only 31 games between them.

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