Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Toronto Maple Leafs Prospect Watch

With nothing going on at the NHL-level, Leafs fans are looking to get their hockey fix in other areas.  Well, if you'd like to keep an eye on some Leafs prospects, here's what's coming up in the next little while.

In the OHL, the Oshawa Generals are on the road, playing the Peterborough Petes on Thursday, September 20th.  Tyler Biggs makes his Generals debut after a lacklustre season at the University of Miami (Ohio).  Biggs will almost certainly play a more prominent role with the Generals than he did with the Red Hawks last year and he'll be looking to prove something to his detractors.  

The Generals have been beating up on the Petes during the pre-season and will look to continue the trend this week.  Anchoring the Petes' defense is 2012 10th overall selection (Tampa Bay) Slater Koekkoek who will look to stifle Biggs and the Generals offense.

Biggs and the Generals then travel to Sudbury to play Leafs prospect Josh Leivo and the Sudbury Wolves on Friday, September 21st.  Leivo put up 73 points in 66 games last season with the Wolves and made a single appearance with the Toronto Marlies.  Leivo will look to improve on his breakout season last year and will undoubtedly be leaned on heavily by the Wolves this year.  If you're a Leafs fan in the Sudbury area, this one is definitely worth checking out. 

For their second game of the weekend, Leivo and the Wolves will play the Brampton Battalion on Sunday, September 23rd.  Expectations are low for the Battalion this year so I'd expect this game to be a good opportunity for Leivo to put some points on the board.

2012 second round pick Matt Finn and the Guelph Storm will run up against the Saginaw Spirit on Friday, September 21st.  Finn was the Storm's top defenseman last year and he'll be just as integral to the team's success this season.   Guelph goaltender Garret Sparks is also a Leafs prospect and had a strong season last year, posting a .907 save percentage.  Finn and Sparks will look to shut down a Saginaw team that lost some key players including top scorer Brandon Saad. 

Guelph's other game this weekend is a home game on Sunday, September 23rd where Finn and the Storm are running up against a very talented London Knights team.  Guelph will see a lot of the Knights and the Kitchener Rangers this season and these two squads will provide a great measuring stick by which to judge Finn's development.  If you're in the Guelph area, get yourself to the Sleeman Centre at 2:00pm on Sunday.

The Leafs prospect most fans will be tracking most closely this year is almost certainly 5th overall selection Morgan Rielly.  After missing the vast majority of last season due to injury, Rielly was a star in the Canada-Russia challenge this past summer and will look to pick up where he left off in a home-and-away double header on Friday and Saturday against the Swift Current Broncos.  Neither team is expected to be a serious contender in the WHL this year but these games will garner significant interest if for no other reason than Rielly's presence -- he'll be the best player on the ice and we all hope he looks the part.

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