Today the Leafs have released the 2014 Rookie Tournament
Roster and Schedule. For the most part this is exciting because the end of
this tournament marks the beginning of training camp, but it also gives a few
prospects a chance to earn an extended look at training camp, potentially the
unsigned/undrafted guys can make a case for AHL deals, or getting selected in
the next draft, and the tournament hockey is much better than the pointless
scrimmages of development camp.
The most of the names you’d expect to see on there are all
there, so expect to see a lot of Nylander, Gauthier, Finn, etc. The interesting absences are Andreas Johnson,
who is back in Sweden playing for Frolunda, the NCAA kids and those committed
to NCAA programs can’t attend, and apparently Ross, Devane, Percy,McKegg, and
Granberg have done this enough that they get another couple of weeks of rest
before Leafs camp.
The group that always interests me in the tournament are the
guys who are there without a contract hoping for a spot of the Marlies/Solar
Bears/possibly being drafted in 2015. Should I be interested in this? Probably
not, as none of these guys seem to wind up in the Leafs organization despite
people really liking Mitchell Heard a couple of years ago.
Since it’s the end of August, why not give these tournament
invitees a bit of attention? At the very least this will work as a convenient
cheat sheet when you inevitably ask “who the hell is that?” when following this
20 year old Windsor Spitfires Forward
Ty has likely been invited because Devane isn’t there and these tournament
games seem to have at least three fights a game. That workload is too having for
Broll to handle on his own so Blicke is there. If Blicke gets a second look
from the organization it’s a sign that Nonis still makes some decisions.
19 year old Tri-City Americans Center
With the Leafs organization still a little thin at center inviting a guy who
put up a point per game last season seems like a decent idea, but doing that
after his draft year doesn’t make him standout, if he repeats his success next
season then he might get an extended look for Solar Bears/Marlies depth.
Bratina– 18 year old North Bay Battalion Forward
As someone who didn’t see North Bay play last year, I wouldn’t presume to guess
what the reasoning is for the invite, but he hasn’t been putting up numbers in
junior so it’s likely he’s acting in a checking line role.
21 year old Barrie Colts Center
The oldest of the invitees, Hall has been a point per game player for the past
three seasons in Barrie. With the Leafs organization lacking in centers he
might be capable of landing a pro deal in Orlando if the camp goes well.
Hopponen– 18 year old Sioux City Musketeers Forward
Again I don’t presume to know much about any of these guys, but I always find
USHL selections interesting, and with the amount of USHL prospects already in
the Leafs system Hopponen might be the most interesting invite to watch. His
numbers aren’t impressive, but not bad for his first year in North America. If
I had to guess, Hopponen is there as the stereotypical Finnish pest. With him
committing playing in North America it will be interesting to see how he
18 year old Kootenay Ice Center
One of the strongest selections for the tournament, Luke is a point a game
player who has put up solid numbers throughout his time in the WHL. He’s got
the knock of being undersized at 5’10, but he’s worth a look. He’s also a
teammate of Rinat Valiev.
20 year old London Knights Forward (attended Leafs Development Camp)
Where Ryan Rupert goes so must Matt. Matt is a veteran of the Leafs rookie
camps and tournaments, and looking past the fact that his brother is in the
Leafs system you have a point per game player who realistically could be
getting a shot on the Solar Bears this season.
19 year old Red Deer Rebels Defenseman (attended Leafs Development Camp)
I assume there’s a saying that if your name is Kayle you better learn how to
fight. Doetzel did, and he’ll add toughness and a 6’3 frame to the tournament
not puck movement or skating.
18 year old Quebec Remparts Defenseman (attended Leafs Development Camp)
A younger blueliner with some puck moving ability it’s possible Donaghey could
see some powerplay time on a team that isn’t overly geared towards offense from
the backend. He’s another interesting option for the future as the Marlies
begin graduating defensemen to the Leafs.
Fraser– 19 year old Val d’Or Foreurs Defenseman (attended Leafs Development
It’s always nice to have a defenseman that your goalie knows, and Bibeau has
played with Fraser. Fraser is kind of the in between from Donaghey and Doetzel
as he is tough, but he can play the puck. He should be familiar to anyone who
watched Memorial Cup.
If I had to make any predictions on this group I wouldn’t be
surprised to see Rupert and/or Hall brought into the Solar Bears this season,
and Hopponen, Fraser, Philp, and Donaghey to make repeat appearances at next