Josh Leivo is an incrreasingly promising Maple Leaf prospect. Photo courtesy Toronto Maple Leafs
While no one really should be surprised about where the Toronto Maple Leafs are at this season, perhaps the most exciting hockey they play is yet to come.
After a slight upturn in November being nothing but fool’s gold, the coming NHL trade deadline is going to showcase the future. To this point, the discussion has been dominated by big names like William Nylander, Kasperi Kapanen, and Connor Brown. However, it appears another mid-round pick is already making waves and rocking the boat.
And that is Josh Leivo.
An up-and-down prospect since breaking into the AHL full-time in the 2013-2014 season, Leivo emerged this season as a consistent performer as well as an AHL All-Star. With his skating marginally improving since his junior days, Leivo has been on an absolute tear since being called up to the big club. In four games, he has managed to produce four goals.
You read that right. Four goals in four games.
Although some in Leafs Nation may be quick to throw their hands up and rush out to coronate the young man as the second coming of Brett Hull, caution must be exercised. While Josh has been building a strong case for a full-time gig on the main roster next season, he still projects as a second/third-line tweener who does not show first-line ceiling. That said, I traded for him in my keeper league this week and you may want to consider doing the same.
What a Beanpot final that was.
While in previous Ramblings I went on to mildly suggest the idea that Boston College would dominate, apparently Boston University didn’t get the message.
In a game that featured some stellar goaltending, barrels of heart, and even a power outage, the reigning Boston University Terriers would not give up their championship easily. Boasting its own level of star power in drafted prospects Jordan Greenway (MIN) and Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson (BOS), as well as undrafted Charlie McAvoy (2016), BU gave its BC rivals all it could handle.
After three periods of absolutely stellar hockey, Minnesota blue-chip prospect Alex Tuch (MIN) managed to pot the winning goal in overtime to give Boston College the 1-0 win. This win gave Thatcher Demko (VAN) his record-setting 10th shutout of the season, further entrenching the gap over the eight posted by Cory Schneider at BC in 2005-2006.
While the prediction of an Eagles' victory was accurate, the Terriers put on an excellent performance highlighted by the display made by Forsbacka-Karlsson. His excellent anticipation and high-end skill at both ends of the ice led BU captain Matt Grzelcyk (BOS) and fellow Bruins prospect to offer his own assessment:
“Patrice Bergeron 2.0.”
High-end praise, and a bit premature, but upon watching his play it certainly could turn out to be in the realm of possibility.
While followers of the Mississauga Steelheads may be spending most of their time talking about names like Alexander Nylander (2016) and Michael McLeod (2016) for the next NHL Entry Draft, there is another name you may want to add to that list.
Nathan Bastian (2016) is making a strong case for some consideration.
A seventh-round pick in the 2013 OHL draft, Bastian has become a relied-upon player in Mississauga, quietly putting together a point-per-game season in his draft-eligible season. Listed at 6-4 and 208 lbs, and with a sound game in all three zones, the old adage that “you can’t teach size” rings true. This is the case with Bastian, as he uses his size effectively, though doesn’t throw the big hit as much as you may like. These skills were in full effect during a recent 6-2 drubbing of the Niagara Ice Dogs on Feb. 14. Bastian put up two goals and a plus-3 rating while winning 14 of 23 faceoffs.
While raw, and certain to require further development, it is not impossible Bastian could sneak his way into the first round in the coming draft, much the way that Anthony Beauvillier (NYI) did in 2015. Look for Bastian to continue his development with Mississauga next season, as (barring Nylander or McLeod making their respective big clubs), they will be a force in the OHL.
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Thanks for reading this week! Look for my Ramblings next week, when I look at the 2016 picks dealt in Monday’s NHL Trade Deadline and who the teams may pick.