This week we’re kicking off the top three prospects in this year’s top 20 ranking. This post will cover #3, Carl Grundstrom.
Here’s a table showing how the TLN staff made their rankings:
|2nd||Bobby Cappucino, Brayden Engel, Jon Steitzer|
|4th||Adam Laskaris, Ryan Hobart, Scott Maxwell, Evan Presement, Dylan Fremlin, Shawn Reis, Hayley Hendren|
You can see 4 was a very popular choice here!
Grundstrom was the Leafs’ 2nd round pick 57th overall in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. He played out of MODO Hockey when he was drafted, and transferred to Frolunda the next season after MODO was relegated.
Grundstrom is 6’0″, 194 lbs and capable of playing physically to complement his skillset.
Grundstrom is on an Entry Level Contract worth $925k against the cap, with no available performance bonuses.
Grundstrom is an energetic, physical player who seems to like being at the center of the action whenever he’s on the ice. Anyone who was able to watch the Leafs’ rookie tournament got a chance to see him in action, and surely noted he was one of the best players there.
Grundtsrom doesn’t possess an elite shot or passing ability, but he’s capable in both areas. His main strengths lie in the ability to identify the right areas of the ice to be in, and possessing the strength, skill, and tenacity to get there. He’s also been known to constantly pelt the net with shots from all areas.
As with many young players, the defensive end of the ice can be a question mark, but I don’t think he’s especially lacking in that area.
|Year||Age @ Start of Yr||Team||League||GP||G||P|
*All stats from Eliteprospects.com
In 2014 Grundstrom made the transition to the SHL, with playing with adults instead of the under-20 league. Obviously he had a tough going to begin with, but did build up some offensive prowess as the years went on. It’s difficult for a teenager to play with players usually ranging from 19 to 45, especially starting at 16 years old.
Not shown in that table was Grundstrom’s stint with the Marlies last year, where he scored 4 points in 6 playoff games. He definitely showed he can be top-flight player at that level. In addition, the table doesn’t show the
As Seen on TV
Because of some rules I’m not totally sure I understand, Grundstrom is ineligible to play for the Toronto Marlies next year. It has something to do with his transfer agreement from the SHL, where because he is a 2nd round pick, he is not allowed to leave his contract to come play in the AHL, that is only allowed for the NHL. Nylander was allowed to come to the AHL when he came over from MODO, because he was a 1st round pick.
Leaving the options at NHL or SHL, the obvious choice is the SHL. I’d love to say he’s good enough for NHL time but even if he was, there just isn’t room. Young wingers that are very near proven at the NHL level like Kapanen and Leid themselves on the outside, it would be hard to imagine Grundstrom, with no NHL time under his belt, unseating one of the more established wingers like Brown, Martin, and Hyman.
Frolunda is a very good SHL team and Grundstrom will certainly be playing high level hockey, so I don’t think it’s the worst thing to see him go back to Sweden.
Grundstrom is a very talented player and I have very high hopes for his future with the Maple Leafs. The future is very much in question at left wing for the Leafs, with Marleau’s age, JVR’s contract, Hyman being right handed, and Martin slowly being eclipsed by the skill behind him. If the Leafs can clear some room for him, I don’t think it would be unreasonable to see Grundstrom in the NHL in 2018-19. He’s got the physicality to fit the role Mike Babcock would look for on the 4th line, so perhaps he’s the one to lift Matt Martin’s apparent stronghold on that roster spot.
Overall, he’s as exciting as the Leafs’ current prospects come, and if you aren’t following him now, you probably should be. He could very well end up a staple on this roster for years to come.