MONTREAL — When the Toronto Maple Leafs brass was interviewing its goal prospects, they’d pull up an NHL video and quiz the children.
“It was fairly cool. We would watch a clip from, like, a breakout or one thing. A major play would occur. The display screen will go black. They usually needed to listen to what you thought occurred subsequent to attempt to take a look at the way you see the sport,” Toronto’s prime draft decide Fraser Minten explains.
“It was most likely one thing the place I had a bonus over different folks — and a few of the clips I acknowledged from watching hockey all through the season and knew the outcomes already. I believe that is sort of an space the place I am good at determining what is going on on.”
What is going on on with the Maple Leafs’ draft technique is to search out high-ceiling gamers who assume the sport in addition to they play it.
“Particularly with the tempo of the sport and what we count on from the gamers in our system, if they cannot assume the sport nicely, they’re simply actually going to battle in video games but in addition what we do developmentally,” stated GM Kyle Dubas, after deciding on 5 prospects that also want years of seasoning.
“(When) we glance again 5, 10 years from now, we wish to say we unequivocally took the perfect participant out there — no matter whether or not they made the NHL at 23, 24, 27.”
Meet the brand new hope.
Fraser Minten, C, thirty eighth
When the Maple Leafs traded out of the primary spherical to ditch Petr Mrazek’s contract, they have been thrilled Fraser Minten was nonetheless on the board at 38.
“That could not have labored out higher for us,” Commerce-Down Dubas enthused. “A bit little bit of fortune.”
Minten is what Dubas characterizes as an “intriguing” choice.
The Kamloops Blazers middle is extremely clever, and he ought to profit from his membership internet hosting the 2023 Memorial Cup.
“However the different a part of it’s, he hasn’t performed at a excessive degree of hockey for that lengthy. And so, he would not come from a household that is deeply entrenched in hockey or has an enormous hockey background. He is type of carved his personal path that manner,” Dubas explains.
Minten is a deal with to speak to.
He’s a classically educated live performance pianist who will get extra nervous acting on the keys than on the ice.
“It is such a person factor. Performing in entrance of a ton of individuals on an instrument and also you mess up, all people can hear it. On the ice, you’ve 5 guys behind you to catch up for a mistake, and it is sort of fluid. That is how hockey is — there’s tons of errors and browse and react sort of factor. Whereas piano, you bought to hit each be aware or else everybody is aware of,” he stated.
The Vancouver native devours each Canucks sport and tries to mannequin his play after Bo Horvat. He is defensively accountable, a tad chippy, and anticipates the play higher than most.
“It is not a ache for me to observe hockey. I like to observe full video games,” Minten stated. “I am going to sit there after apply to observe the 4 o’clock sport, watch the seven o’clock sport. Take what I can from that.
“I am all the time on the fitting facet defensively and capitalizing to create offense.”
Minten realizes he wants time to develop and should bulk up for the professionals. The ahead figures he is nonetheless two or three years from cracking the NHL, however he is already considering a GM profession when he is accomplished enjoying.
“Extremely smart, extremely aggressive, is aware of easy methods to win. In watching him within the playoffs lots, he had an excellent playoff run. Gonna be the captain there sooner or later. Simply love all the pieces about his sport,” stated Wes Clark, the Leafs’ director of newbie scouting. “Actually spectacular child. Actually understands the sport and will get it.”
Nicholas Moldenhauer, RW, ninety fifth
You’ll be able to nonetheless see the scar.
It traces from the underside of the prospect’s left ear, alongside his jaw, to his chin.
An opponent’s skate blade slashed open Moldenhauer’s face when his Chicago Metal performed Workforce USA’s under-18 squad.
“It was undoubtedly a scary second,” Moldenhauer recalled Friday, moments after being drafted by his hometown workforce.
“I believe we obtained by way of it as a household, not simply myself. Lots of people helped me out by way of it — simply ensuring I used to be in the fitting psychological state. Positively a troublesome second, however I believe it developed me as an individual, and it will assist me with issues shifting ahead as nicely.”
Though Moldenhauer already has a Borje Salming look, this Mississauga-born Maple Leafs fan grew up rooting for Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. (Feeling previous?)
“I’ve lived in Toronto my complete life, so to have the ability to be chosen by my hometown is unbelievable,” Moldenhauer stated, after an enormous eruption from his supportive household within the Bell Middle stands.
“They have been simply as excited as me, if no more. We have been all completely happy to have the ability to share that second collectively, and it was only a tremendous cool expertise.”
The winger prides himself on his skill to create scoring probabilities and browse off his teammates. He expects to return to the USHL — the place he put up 18 targets and 43 factors in 43 video games final season — earlier than deciding on an NCAA college.
Plenty of high-end packages covet the ahead, which makes Dubas really feel snug about his improvement.
“Extremely smart, extremely aggressive, loves enjoying on the internet,” evaluates Clark. “He can rating, and he could make performs.”
The Maple Leafs imagine that scar allowed Moldenhauer to slide all the way down to them at No. 95.
“One of many extra ugly cuts that you will see to a participant,” Dubas stated. “I believe that impacted his 12 months and impacted his draft slot. Now it is nearly persevering with to do the work and getting again to the participant that he is been, which he confirmed on the under-18s with Canada, then flying again and enjoying with Chicago within the playoffs.”
Dennis Hildeby, G, 122nd
There’s a sense the overall supervisor is uninterested in discussing the group’s spotty historical past of drafting and creating bona fide NHL netminders.
“It is nice to speak about, however we’d like them to proceed to develop and are available alongside and begin to push on to the AHL roster after which to the NHL roster,” Dubas stated.
“However Dennis Hildeby from Färjestad was a participant that (goalie scout) Jon Elkin recognized very early within the 12 months. It is a bit of a distinct path. He is a bit older, however had a great season this 12 months within the SHL.”
The 20-year-old Swede goaltender has been handed over twice within the draft, however Elkin was so passionate concerning the potential, Dubas traded his 2023 fourth-round decide to nab the netminder.
The cellular Hildeby stands a towering 6-foot-6 and posted a .930 save proportion in seven video games final 12 months.
“I do know he is slightly older, however he’ll be in a great place there in Färjestad subsequent 12 months, in a tandem function,” Clark stated. “We’ll see what occurs after that, however we like what we see.”
Nikita Grebenkin, LW, one hundred and thirty fifth
A little bit of a fifth-round flyer right here.
Grebenkin — a 6-foot-2, 19-year-old Russian winger — is predicted to take an extended path to the NHL and was already handed over on the 2021 draft.
He scored 17 targets and 47 assists in 58 video games with Magnitogorsk’s junior squad, plus 13 factors in 9 playoff video games. He was known as up for a single KHL sport and has represented Russia at all ages group.
“We tried to do as a lot homework as we presumably might on his scenario, what he needed, after which with the place we had him on the listing with our decide, the choice was made: ‘Let’s decide him,'” Dubas stated.
The phrase from Toronto’s eyes abroad: machinelike.
“Machinelike, and he could make performs,” Clark stated. “He’ll go and attempt to battle for a spot there in Magnitogorsk. We’ll see what occurs right here within the subsequent 12 months or two. However? Machinelike. So, we like that. We just like the competitiveness.”
Brandon Lisowsky, C/LW, 218th
Toronto’s WHL scouts, Darren Ritchie and Garth Malarchuk, have been large proponents of this 5-foot-9 Saskatoon Blades ahead. They pushed to have Lisowsky rated increased than the seventh-round slot during which he was chosen.
The Port Coquitlam, BC, native loved a breakout marketing campaign, scoring 33 targets and 58 factors in 68 video games. He was additionally a point-per-game within the postseason.
The Leafs like his aggressive streak however need Lisowsky to enhance his skating. They’re going to take a peek on the improvement camp, which begins July 15, then let Lisowsky proceed to hone his sport with the Blades.
“Clearly he can rating, which is a good attribute to have,” Dubas stated. “Hope that it is one of many seventh-round picks that everybody seems to be again on that seems nicely.”