Leafs Training Camp Roster Breakdown
On Tuesday, Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis announced the 59 players that will participate in their 2013 training camp,
which opens with its first game on September 15th after a few days of practices, off-ice workouts and media availability.
Not only does this camp offer some excitement in the form of seeing the likes of Jonathan Bernier, Dave Bolland and David Clarkson in the blue and white for the first time but it also means getting a first hand look (maybe only in practice for some of the early cuts) at the youth.
This past week, many had the chance to see the likes of Frederik Gauthier and Carter Verhaeghe in the Leafs rookie tournament, which ended in a disappointing 6-2 loss to the baby Sens. Pun intended? Maybe.
With the fresh new faces and a new-look team that has lost some key pieces (Grabovski, Frattin, Komarov, etc.), here’s what to look for and which players may crack the surface and surprise:
James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel
Joffrey Lupul – Nazem Kadri – David Clarkson
Nikolai Kulemin – Dave Bolland – Jay McClemment
Colton Orr (although I wish it weren’t so)
Dion Phaneuf – Carl Gunnarsson
Jake Gardiner – Paul Ranger
James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier (flip a coin as to the order)
In the mix
Joe Colborne: After finishing out the year with the Leafs and finding some spot time in the playoffs, it’s likely the Leafs have Colborne penciled in to crack the lineup, or at the very least challenge for a spot in the press box. At 23 years of age, Colborne’s time to make the transition is now. Consistency and a knack for the injury bug have stunted the big man’s development but if he can put together a solid camp you’ll see him on opening night.
Frazer McLaren: Randy Carlyle likes his two tough guys and he likes them enough to have them both back at roughly 1 million annually. While I’m not an advocate of tough guys who can’t play, it’s more than likely McLaren will find himself in the discussion for minutes on a weekly basis.
Mason Raymond*: If it weren’t for his contract status, Mason Raymond would be considered one of the “locks” to make this team. An NHL regular with the Canucks, Raymond’s 22 points would have been good enough for 8th on the Leafs in scoring last season, ahead of other regulars like Jay McClement, Mikhail Grabovski and Clarke MacArthur. With the cap going down, Raymond was one of a handful of solid players who remained unsigned through the summer but if he shows up at camp, Nonis and Carlyle will be forced to make room.
Trevor Smith: Smith has been a forward to watch in the AHL over the last few years, earning top line minutes on a consistent basis but I’m struggling to see where he fits in with the Leafs. After signing an NHL contract, it appeared Smith might have found his niche as a depth player with the Leafs but if guys like Colborne and Raymond perform, he’ll be on the outs.
Mark Fraser: After putting up a stellar plus-minus standing in his return to the NHL last season, Fraser looks to be perhaps closer to a lock than anything but some additions on the back-end will mean he has to continue to be the steady defender he was. I’d be shocked if Fraser wasn’t, at the very least, a healthy scratch come opening night.
John-Michael Liles: It’s no secret that John-Michael Liles’s production and performance have tailed off, but if the Leafs find themselves in need of a left-handed shot and Liles can continue to be the leader he has, then he’ll almost surely find spot time. With the compliance buyouts in the past, it’s unlikely Liles is anywhere but the NHL come October.
TJ Brennan: Brennan is an intriguing option. His offensive talent has been something he’s held onto since he was drafted 31st overall in 2007 but there remain question marks about whether his defensive awareness can hold up at the next level. I suspect Cody Franson’s contract status will have a huge impact with how Brennan factors into the equation but if a bigger body is moved out, the Leafs might have a cheap “next best thing”.
The long shots:
Jerry D’Amigo: D’Amigo was one of former Marlies coach Dallas Eakins’ favourites, playing in all situations and manning one of the best PK units in the league. His energy and speed in the Leafs bottom-9 will probably be an asset at some point, but the start of the year may not be that time. If he doesn’t end up with the big club, look for D’Amigo to be one of the go-to guys with the Marlies, again.
Carter Ashton: When the Leafs traded Keith Aulie for the speedy, lanky forward, many had Ashton penciled in as an impact bottom-6 player in the NHL. Ashton has shown flares of being that player but may in time turn into one of those guys that could have been but just never was.
Korbinian Holzer: Holzer’s not an NHL defensemen in my books but his contract might suggest otherwise. With the Leafs depth on the backend I can’t see Holzer having a sniff at the NHL save for some injury fill-ins. You never know.
Morgan Rielly: The Leafs player development staff have said they won’t be afraid to throw the remarkably talented defensemen into the fire, but he’ll have to earn it. With a choice between Junior and the NHL and nothing in between, if Rielly lights it up in the preseason the Leafs will have no choice but to play him, at least for a ‘trial period’.
Petter Granberg: Granberg has competed alongside one of the better NHL defensemen (Alexander Edler) and held his own, whilst competing against some of the world’s top forwards (Stamkos). This, for many scouts, has put Granberg on the map as NHL ready. Time will tell, but I’d wager he’s a year away – at least.
Forwards: Tyler Biggs, Spencer Abbott, Troy Bodie, David Broll, Connor Brown, Sam Carrick, Andrew Crescenzi, Jamie Devane, Frederik Gauthier, Fabrice Herzog, Josh Leivo, Matt Rupert, Brad Ross, Ryan Rupert, Kenny Ryan, Carter Verhaeghe.
Defenders: Jesse Blacker, Matt Finn, Andrew MacWilliam, Kevin Marshall, Trevor Murphy, Stuart Percy, Kevin Raine, Dylan Yeo, Zachary Yuen.
Goaltenders: Drew MacIntyre, Christopher Gibson, Antoine Bibeau.