The Toronto Maple Leafs‘ development camp is officially opened and has a staggering list of CHL players, as well as one prospect from the USHL. As well, a number of Maple Leafs and Marlies prospects who will look to impress and hope to get on the roster for the year are in attendance. Here are some of the players who are in attendance, and what can be expected of them as they hope to make it in the NHL and AHL this coming season.
CHL and USHL Prospects
Lleyton Moore: Moore is a rather short defenseman, but doesn’t let that stop him from being strong in his position. The player closes angles well, lays the body effectively, and overall is able to pick the puck off of opposing players with a high degree of efficiency to turn the play around from his defensive end. The young defenseman is a solid leader, having captained the Toronto Marlboros, as well as serving as an alternate captain for the Oshawa Generals. As well, he doesn’t shy away from the offensive aspect of his game, much like the Maple Leafs seem to expect from their defensive players.
Landon Cato: Cato is a larger-bodied defenseman, who looks to play a physical game, spending nearly 60 minutes in the penalty box last season (2019-20 due to the COVID-19 pandemic). Overall the player has some grit that the Leafs may look fondly on, as long as he continues to develop his game further.
Jacob Guevin: Guevin is a strong Canadian defenseman, who has already signed a contract with the University of Nebraska Omaha, for the 2022-23 season, a move that gives him yet more time to develop and draw the attention of NHL teams. The player does well at either end of the ice, having a high +/- score last season, as well as putting up 45 points. The player seems well disciplined, not having spent too long in the penalty box considering he played more than half of the season, and only spending 20 minutes in the penalty box. Overall, the player seems to have a bright future ahead of him, with the possibility of playing for an NHL or AHL team.
Ethan Peters: Peters is a large defenseman who appears to have a heavy focus on the defensive aspect of his game, without much of a focus on the offensive aspect of his game. This player has played the role of an alternate captain for two seasons and only moved into the WHL last season has shown his abilities to motivate his teammates, and that he has the ability to play at a higher level with only a little time to adjust to the new team. The player could be a valuable addition to any organization and may see his career take a turn for the better if the organizations take a notice of it.
Vincent Sevigny: Sevigny has played as an alternate captain of his QMJHL team since the 2019-20 season. During his time with the Victoriaville Tigers, he managed to pick up a QMJHL championship. Overall this player covers the ice fairly well but has seemed to lack consistency during his development. The Maple Leafs will likely use this camp period to see if he has what it takes to join the organization or not at this point in time, as well as to develop a sense of how coachable he is for the future.
Lukas Gustafsson: Gustafsson’s transition game is first class. He’s able to get the puck and move it through the neutral zone at speed, which is part of the reason why the Chicago Steel won a USHL championship. Overall, he isn’t too showy in terms of offense, but he does his job well and uses his size to his advantage to take out shooting lanes and pressure the shooter, breaking down plays before they have much chance to get dangerous.
Brett Budgell: Budgell serves as captain of the Charlottetown Islanders and has been a fair pillar of consistency to his team across multiple seasons. The player has shown continual growth across the seasons, and last season managed to put up his first 50-point season and continued to put up points after hitting that 50 mark. As a leftwing, the player shows off a lot of speed going up and down the ice and has managed to use his size to hit the opposition players off the puck and maintain possession in the offensive end. Overall, the forward has some strong prospects for his future in hockey.
Ryan Del Monte: Del Monte has played efficiently, and continued to develop over the past season regardless of the shutdown of the OHL as he was put out on loan to play in Germany. Overall the center still has time to develop, and will likely need to use the time to play more efficiently in the offensive end. On the faceoff, the center is quite good at taking the puck, as well as being quite efficient in defending the puck from the opposition.
James Hardie: Hardie is a physically strong player, who is able to make some amazing plays to score for his team in the OHL. After the overall hiccup that was his first season in the OHL, the winger made an amazing comeback in his second season, putting up 63 points in the regular season. This forward has a lot of potentials, and when paired with the right linemates, can put up some great performances. The player was draft-eligible in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft but was not selected, and as such is free to sign with any team as an undrafted free agent.
Branden Kressler: Kressler is a patient player who looks to set up the best option for the puck to travel to open up the goalie. However, this patience has largely led to a lack of points from him to this point. The player is also quite fast, and should he learn to play more to his speed while using the patience to deke out the goalie, he could become a valuable asset to any team. The Leafs will likely look to see how coachable this player is to decide whether they see a future with the organization or not.
Lawson Sherk: Sherk has stood out before playing for the Hamilton Bulldogs, putting up a 50 point season the year before he was drafted. The player did not have much time to settle in with his new team before the COVID-19 pandemic, and thus has the potential to shock many depending on his ability in the coming season. The player was draft eligible, however went unselected in the 2021 entry draft, he is still able to be chosen, however, whether he is drafted or signed as an undrafted free agent will largely depend on how he plays in the coming season.
Theo Rochette: Rochette was a surprisingly undrafted player in the 2021 entry draft, however, he is still a high-caliber player. The player is able to find the open space and break down the opposing defense to either pot in a goal for himself, or pass the puck and help someone else score. If he is paired with a solid sniper, this player will likely put up over 50 points in a season with ease. Defensively he is fairly solid as well, as he is able to use his stick to pick the puck off of opposition players. It would not be surprising if the Maple Leafs end up signing this player to an ELC by the end of this camp.
Colby Saganiuk: The U.S.-born player is about to enter his first season in the OHL with the Erie Otters, and has looked like a decent two-way forward to this point. He is small and able to use his stride to gather some speed and push back to help the defense in break-away situations. Offensively, he hasn’t shown himself to be anything to write home about, but that side of his game can always be worked on with the right coaching and training that could see him become a fairly solid offensive option.
Francesco Lapenna: Lapenna is a fairly consistent goalie, maintaining a solid composure that sees him put up some modest numbers in the net. Last season he put up two shutouts in 30 games, compared to his one shut out the season before. The young goalie still has time and space to improve, and this camp could be a great time for him to show that he has the drive to do so.
Braden Holt: The U.S.-born goalie has yet to put up any fantastic numbers with his team in the WHL, after only starting two games last season. He went undrafted in the 2021 entry draft and could be looking to be signed as an undrafted free agent, however, he will need to show that he is worth the investment for the organization, as he hasn’t had many chances to show what he can do.
Taylor Gauthier: The Canadian goalie has already picked up international silverware with the Canadian National Team at the U20 World Junior Championships. Overall this goalie has put up some solid performances to help backstop his team to victory, putting up a save percentage of over 0.91 for the past two seasons. It would not be surprising if the Maple Leafs looked to sign this young goalie to an ELC should he perform well at this year’s development camp.
Leafs Players to Watch
Nicholas Robertson: The former Peterborough Petes player is relentless both on and off the puck, as he continually works hard to put up points. After picking up an injury during the play-in round of the 2019-20 Stanley Cup Playoff, Robertson has looked to regain his form and prove that he deserves a regular spot in the Toronto Maple Leafs lines. That drive to prove himself may see some fantastic performances during the development camp. As well, the player will look to show the other players what it takes to make it into the Maple Leafs roster.
Mikhail Abramov: The former Victoriaville Tigres captain has really impressed the Maple Leafs after putting up 30 points in 25 games last season, and putting up 76 points the season before. The player has shown off his leadership capabilities, as well as the fact that he is a prolific goalscorer, and will look to prove that he deserves a shot at the big leagues this coming season, as well as drive the other players to work harder during the camp.
Ian Scott: Scott had a rough time last season, being bounced down the ECHL due to the Leafs having so many goalies on their payroll. Now that they have shed a few of these options, Scott will look to show why he deserves to play as the starter in the AHL. To do so, he will have to look to recapture the form that saw him win both an AHL and WHL title, as well as be selected for the Canadian World Junior team in both 2016-17 and 2018-19.
Pavel Gogolev: The former Guelph Storm player returns to the Toronto Marlies this season and will look to show how he has improved during the development camp. He has already shown in the past that he has the ability to put up points, with a surprising 96 points in the 2019-20 season. The player has also won an OHL championship title and will look to show that he has what it takes to make it to the next level of play, as well as make the competition for a spot just that little bit harder in the development camp.
Overall the Maple Leafs have a fairly strong group of players gathered for their development camp this year, and when the time for the rookie tournament rolls around, they will certainly be able to put up some fierce competition. A few of these players will likely look to impress enough to get offered an entry-level contract by the organization, and the others will certainly be able to use this experience to improve their game and draw some attention to themselves in the hopes of getting signed.
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