After the Toronto Maple Leafs development camp, the team travelled to Traverse City, Michigan, for a top prospects tournament. During the tournament, the Maple Leafs’ top prospects played four games. At the end, their record was 2-2.
A Game By Game Review of the Maple Leafs Top Prospects Games
Games one and two ended in 4-3 scores, and both went to overtime. In game one, the Maple Leafs’ top prospects lost to the Columbus Blue Jackets’ top prospects. In game two, the Maple Leafs’ top prospects beat the St Louis Blues’ top prospects by the same 4-3 score.
The third game was against the Dallas Stars’ top prospects. The game was tied 3-3 early in the second period, and then the Maple Leafs prospects completely dominated the rest of the game. They eventually won by a 7-3 score.
The Maple Leafs’ prospects’ last game of the tournament was a rematch against the Blue Jackets’ prospects, who had beaten them 4-3 in overtime in their first game. It was a crazy and interesting game, and tempers flared. Eventually, the Blue Jackets’ top prospects won the game on a fluky goal in overtime by the score of 7-6.
Key Players for the Maple Leafs Prospects
Key Player One: Nick Robertson
Nick Robertson started slowly but eventually had a great tournament. During the first two games, he wasn’t as impressive as we expected. Still, he was the most noticeable player on the ice for the Maple Leafs. During the last two games, he began to dominate. In game three he scored two goals, and he had some good shifts with Alex Steeves in the first game. Sadly, Steeves looked good but suffered a shoulder injury.
Key Player Two: Semyon Der-Arguchintsev
Semyon Der-Arguchintsev (SDA) had four solid games. In game one, he and Pavel Gogolev appeared to have some chemistry. From game two on, SDA was partnered with Robertson. In game three, both Robertson and Der-Achintsev were all over the ice. SDA assisted on a goal by Robertson and a goal by Noel Hoefenmayer.
In game four, SDA had his best game of the tournament by scoring two goals. He also added an assist. He and Robertson worked really well together and created chance after chance.
Key Player Three: Ian Scott
Ian Scott started to look better each game. He’s sound positionally and plays a controlled game.
Key Player Four: Mikhail Abramov
Once Mikhail Abramov was partnered with Gogolev in game two, he started to play better. It seemed he was a bit slower than Robertson or Alex Steeves in game one, but Gogolev was more to his pace. In game four, Abramov had his best game of the tournament, scoring a goal and adding two assists.
He seemed strong on his skates and used his body well to protect the puck. He might not be the fastest skater, but he knows how to create room for himself.
Key Player Five: Pavel Gogolev
Gogolev seems bigger than his listed 6-foot-0. Like Abramov, he isn’t the fastest skater, but he’s also solid on his skates and uses his body well to shield the puck. He seems to play well with Abramov. After the two were paired, Gogolev looked more comfortable and confident with the puck.
Key Player Six: Curtis Douglas
We won’t say too much about Curtis Douglas except you can’t help but notice him because he’s so huge at 6-foot-9. During the second game, he was paired with Jordan Frasca and Colby Saganiuk and this line played effectively. Douglas won puck battles on the boards, created nice shots in tight, and looked good around the net.
Key Player Seven: Colby Saganiuk
Just a note about Colby Saganiuk. He’s only 5-foot-7 and 18-years-old. He was by far the smallest player on the ice. But he can really skate. He was buzzing all over the ice and assisted on Douglas’ goal. Their celebration – the tall and the short – was fun to watch.
Key Player Eight: Matt Hellickson
Hellickson was new to us, but he played well. He scored a goal in every game except the last one. He stood out during the first two games and looked good both offensively and defensively throughout the entire tournament.
Hellickson was a pleasant surprise. He’s a solid 6-foot-0 and 190 pounds and was noticeable for his ability to box out opposing players in front of his own net. He failed to score for the first game in this tournament in game four, but he assisted on SDA’s goal and played another solid game.
The Summary for the Maple Leafs’ Prospects
All in all, it was a good tournament for the Maple Leafs’ top prospects. They finished the tournament with two wins and two overtime losses. The Blue Jackets’ top prospects, who beat the Maple Leafs’ top prospects those two games, were undefeated in the tournament.
The thing that stood out was that the Maple Leafs’ prospects never seemed to quit. They came together to push every team they played. When they suffered game adversity, the wind never left their sails. They just kept coming and playing hard. They seem like an undeterred group of young players.
That’s good news for Maple Leafs’ fans.
[Thanks to long-time Maple Leafs’ fan Stan Smith for collaborating with me on this post. Stan’s Facebook profile can be found here.]