With no NHL hockey for the foreseeable future, the focus for Leafs fans has been on the team's developmental pipeline. The CHL is a few weeks into their season and the AHL's opening weekend is just winding down, which has given us a little bit of information on how things are progressing with the future Leafs.
Morgan Rielly is 8 games into his WHL season with the Moose Jaw Warriors. Rielly has been great this season on a pretty pitiful Warriors team. Rielly's 12 points (2G, 10A) put him second in WHL scoring by defensemen trailing only Myles Bell (who is a year older and has played two more games). He's also registered a point on 40% of Moose Jaw's goals which is absolutely ridiculous. All of these flashy offensive totals may distract fans from Rielly's defensive game which has also been very strong so far this year. His skating is so far ahead of most players at this level that he dominates on defense in transition and he's also been solid with his in-zone positioning so far this year. Suffice to say, everything is A-OK with the Leafs' 2012 first rounder.
Tyler Biggs is a player I've seen a lot of in the early days of this OHL season. His point totals look strong on the surface (5G, 4A in 10 games) but he's been skating with one of the OHL's leading scorers in Boone Jenner and two of his five goals have been empty-netters. The book on Biggs is more or less accurate. He's doesn't look to be a major point producer and his skating looks to be strained a lot of the time (whether he's quick to fatigue or just a bad skater is tough to say). Biggs is, however, exceptional along the boards, a physically dominating player, and has a powerful shot.
Matt Finn has been the Guelph Storm's all-purpose defender and has looked really strong to start the year. Finn has three goals to go with six assists in nine games with the Storm and has looked really good on the powerplay with the Storm. His shot has a knack for getting through crowds and is definitely an asset. Finn gets leaned on very heavily by the Storm and their schedule has been tough to start the year. I'd like to see Finn be a little bit more assertive at 5-on-5 and hope that he'll be pushed that way as the season wears on.
Josh Leivo has picked up OHL Player of the Week honours already this year and has scored goals at an impressive rate (7G in 10 games). Leivo's Sudbury Wolves aren't one of the more offensively talented teams in the OHL so expecting inflated totals from Leivo this year is probably unlikely unless he's traded at mid-season. That said, Leivo's production since being drafted by the Leafs is impressive and as Steve Burtch points out his production compares favourably with players like Boone Jenner and Mark Scheifele (though Leivo has played more games during that period).
Stuart Percy has four points (2G, 2A) in nine games to start the year. Mississauga is another team that doesn't light the world on fire offensively and Percy is more of a positional defenseman than a point-producer to begin with. That said, I'm sure Leafs fans were hoping for better offensive totals for Percy this season. The good news as far as Percy is concerned is that he's stayed healthy in the early stages of this season after an injury riddled 2011-12 year where Percy only managed to play 34 OHL games.
All told, things have unfolded more or less as expected. Matt Finn has probably provided a bit more offense than anticipated in his first season as a Leafs prospect and given that Morgan Rielly is currently producing at a 1.5 ppg clip from defense, the same could probably be said of him. We'll be tracking all of these guys closely because let's face it, there's nothing else to do. Be sure to check into our Prospect Stats page for updates on player performance.
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