Leafs Prospect Update – November 30, 2014

Verhaeghe Is Good At Hockey Again!

ICYMI, Carter Verhaeghe hasn’t produced nearly as much offence as he probably should be so far this season. There’s two probable reasons for this really; the Niagara Ice Dogs have been pretty bad at winning hockey games this year, and Verhaeghe is playing without his 2013-2014 linemate Brendan Perlini (who hasn’t played yet this year because of a broken hand).

Never fear. Things are starting to turn around. The IceDogs, who are 8-16-0 this season, are 6-4-0 in their last ten games. They’ve also acquired Islanders first-rounder Josh Ho-Sang and are a significantly more skilled team because of it.

As the team’s fortunes have changed, so has Verhaeghe’s. In Thursday’s 9-2 romp over the Belleville Bulls, Verhaeghe snapped a three-game pointless streak, posting one goal and one assist. A day later, he scored twice and added another assist to help the IceDogs hand the Oshawa Generals only their fourth loss of the entire season. And finally, this afternoon, Verhaeghe would put up one more assist in a 4-2 loss to North Bay.

Yeah, Verhaeghe has three goals, six points in his last three games, which is a lot closer to (and beyond) what he should be producing. In 25 games this season, Verhaeghe has 10 goals and 19 points. Perhaps this season isn’t as FUBAR as we once thought.

And wow, just think, how good is a Perlini-Verhaeghe-HoSang line going to be? Dammmn. I will pay to see that in person with my own two eyes.

Nylander Returns From Head Injury, Produces Immediately

It didn’t take long for the Leafs’ 2014 first round pick to recover from a boot to the head. William Nylander returned from a one-game absence on Thursday night, scoring a goal in MODO’s 3-2 shootout loss to HV71. 

Last night, Nylander added another two assists in a 4-1 win over Lulea HF. His impressive statline now sits at six goals and 17 points in 15 games played. Nylander now sits 24th in SHL scoring, despite playing about 10 games less than just about everybody on the leaderboard.

Here’s some more examples of how good Nylander has been…

Frederik Gauthier is… Scoring!?

Hold the goddamn phone. Freddy Goats is putting up points!

With another goal this afternoon is a 3-2 overtime win over the Quebec Remparts (and fellow Leafs prospect Cody Donaghey, remember him?), Gauthier pushes his nice little point streak to four games. That is an accomplishment for a guy who’s never crack a point-per-game pace in the QMJHL.

It may sound like I’m ragging on the guy, but I’m not. There’s still room in the pros for 6’5, defence-first centres. It’s just that Gauthier’s offensive game has been disappointing since the day the Leafs made him a first round pick in 2013, and it’s a tough draft to look back on in hindsight.

Andre Burakovsky, picked two spots behind Gauthier, was on my television set last night, wearing a Washington Capitals jersey and playing in an actual NHL game (albeit being yelled at by dirty, selfish, and moustachioed Alexander Ovechkin). 

So yeah, it looks like Gauthier isn’t going to be “Jordan Staal-lite” like some had hoped. Then again, maybe Jordan Staal isn’t someone you should be aspiring to be anymore?

I digress. Gauthier is on a four game point streak, with three goals and two assists during that span. On the season, Gauthier has 10 points in 12 games, which my calculator tells me is still not a point-per-game pace, but it’s getting there.

Other News…

  • Rinat Valiev scored a goal in today’s 4-3 Kootenay win over Everett. He has 19 points in 16 games this season, which is pretty good for a defenceman. 
  • Dakota Joshua broke a four game pointless streak with a goal in yesterday’s 3-2 Sioux Falls loss to Green Bay.
  • Dominic Toninato and Tony Cameranesi did not play hockey this weekend, so, nothing new on the NCHC front.
  • The aforementioned Cody Donaghey hasn’t scored a point in five straight games, which is a bummer.
    • This is a game you don’t wanna play buddy.

      The leafs picked brad ross one spot after devante smith-pelly and four spots before tyler toffoli.
      They picked tyler biggs before brandon saad, bonne jenner,Thomas Jurco, john gibson… and stuart percy.
      We picked tom Nilsson 4 spots before Johnny Gadreau.
      We picked Tony Carmenesi 10 spots before Andrew Shaw.
      We picked daniel brodin one spot before brendan gallager.
      We picked jesse blacker two picks before thomas tatar.
      We picked jamie devane one spot before reilly smith.
      we picked jerry damigo one spot before darcy keumper.

      There is a lot more but i think that has sufficiently ruined ever ones day.
      Drafting really does make or break a team.

      • silentbob

        You can really only do this to a certain extent.

        Yes the Leafs picked Biggs before Jenner, but Jenner didn’t picked until 15 picks later. 12 other teams didn’t pick Jenner either and he wasn’t really expected to be a 1st rounder. Same with Saad who was 21 picks later etc…

        Its an extreme example, but I think its pretty obvious now that Datsyuk was the best player drafted in 1998. Did every team make 4-5-6 mistakes?

        Every team can redraft any draft with their team getting great players they “should have” picked, but I think you can only hold this kind of thing against a team if they pass up on a player expected to go around the time they picked. Lets say Ryan MacInnis becomes the best forward from last years draft, does that mean the Leafs made a mistake taking Nylander instead of him?

  • FlareKnight

    I don’t find it’s that hard a draft to look back in hindsight. The Leafs have made way worse decisions than this. At least Gauthier has a skillset that can be of use in the future. If the most painful thing is one good player that was picked behind him….that’s hardly that bad. That’s just asking to make the absolute perfect selection for every pick, which no one is going to do.

  • FlareKnight

    Me personally a person like Gautier I think he’ll be a great 2c for the leafs one day. Leafs have all small skilled c and need a big defensive, fo guy maybe like a couturier as long as he can be a decent Passer I can care less how many points he puts up