Thanks for joining us for our July 31-in-31 series! Every day this month we will be taking a look at how each team fared in the NHL Entry Draft, as well as checking in on incoming/outgoing prospects and Development Camp notes. Check back every day for a new team profile, and next month when we begin the August 31-in-31 series diving more into prospect depth charts.
Dubas did as Dubas does – when the Leafs were on the board for their first pick of the draft, he promptly traded down to grab an extra 3rd-round pick. His scouting team’s comfort with the OHL (Soo in particular) was on display, but only time will tell if this faith in the development system there will pay off. With their haul, Toronto snagged a few safe picks, and a few unexpected reaches. Here’s the fantasy roll call:
1st Round: 29th Overall – Rasmus Sandin, LD
Most players on the site have a higher “upside” rating than “NHL likeliness” rating, but not Sandin. The all-around defender plays a smart game and has all the tools to be useful, but likely maxes out as a 3-4 defenseman. Given how well he’s adjusted to every league he’s played in (and he’s played in many), I’d wager on him requiring less pro seasoning than most before making the jump. That being said, don’t reach for Sandin on your draft day. He’s a few years out, and won’t have as high of a ceiling as his NHL draft position might indicate.
2nd Round: 52nd overall – Sean Durzi, RD
Durzi put up some of the most impressive numbers in the OHL last season, the only caveat was that he was at the older end of the age spectrum at the draft. Regardless of age when drafted, he has shown the ability to play big minutes and produce a lot of points, so don’t get scared off when fantasy drafting. He won’t be the highest on the prospect food chain when he turns pro (a certain RD taken last year has that honor), but he’s already got the build for pro so hopefully won’t require too much sheltering upon arrival. He hasn’t been signed to an ELC yet so may return to the OHL, but does seem worthy of a contract sooner rather than later.
3rd Round: 76th overall – Semyon Der-Argucintsev, RW
SDR was the first pick that got most Leafs fans excited. He’s got excellent passing vision and can control the play from the perimeter. His offensive skills are obvious, which gives him a high fantasy upside, but he’s certainly not a lock to make the NHL. He’s very small (159 lbs), only 17 years old, so has a lot of physical developing to do which will affect his game. Investing in him now would be a long play, so unless your league is quite deep you may need to pass on electric playmaker for the time being.
3rd Round: 83rd overall – Riley Stotts, C
It’s hard to tell if Stotts’ stat lines help his value or hurt it. On the one hand, his productivity skyrocketed when he was no longer buried on the depth chart, indicating that there is probably even more for him to give if developed properly. On the other hand, an enormous amount of his production comes on the powerplay, which isn’t overly sustainable. For a third-round pick, you can take that chance and hope the former argument is true. He’s only 18, so has lots of time to impress the doubters.
4th Round: 118th overall – Mac Hollowell, RD
If you aren’t comfortable betting on small players, Hollowell isn’t your guy to draft. The 5’9” d-man from (surprise, surprise) the Soo Greyhounds was a point machine in 2017-18 and looks to be a producer in most offensive categories tracked in typical leagues. He’s 19 so could get a chance to turn pro soon, or could return to the OHL. Don’t expect him to be NHL-ready soon either way, but his high ceiling make him worth keeping an eye on.
5th Round: 149th overall – Filip Kral, LD
Red flag for fantasy GMs – Kral will miss a huge chunk of the 2018-19 season due to shoulder surgery. This is a real setback given his need to gain weight and get more North American experience under his belt (prior to last year’s WHL campaign, he played in the Czech league). Don’t expect Kral to be on anyone’s radar right now, but he is a very promising assets for the Leafs’ organization long-term. He’s smart and has a good shot from the blueline.
6th Round: 156th overall – Pontus Holmberg, LW
I’m not going to pretend to know much about Holmberg’s game – he plays in the Swedish 3rd-tier league. But in 2018-19 he hopes to play in the SHL full-time which will be a real opportunity to gauge his future fantasy relevance. Even if he transitions well to the men’s league he is years away from fantasy relevance.
7th Round: 209th overall – Zachary Bouthilier, G
In two seasons, he hasn’t crack a .900 save% in the QMJHL, with the exception of last year’s playoff run where he shined. He is 6’2” so there is a body to work with, but I would never recommend wasting a fantasy pick on a 7th-round goaltender..
7th Round: 211th overall – Semyon Kizimov, RW
A hard-working do-it-all forward who doesn’t really stand out or put up huge numbers, even in a lower-tier Russian league. Unlikely to have fantasy relevance even if he did beat the odds and make it to North American pro. If you’re reaching this far for potential in your pools, you aren’t studying other team’s farm systems enough!
- Miro Aaltonen, C (has left for KHL)
- Frederik Gauthier, C (signed 2-year deal)
- Justin Holl, RD (signed 2-year contract)
- Andreas Johnsson, LW (accepted 1-year offer)
- Martin Marincin, LD (signed 1-year deal)
- William Nylander, RW/C
RFAs Not Qualified:
- John Tavares, C
- Tyler Ennis, LW/C
- Par Lindholm, C
- Josh Jooris, C
- James van Reimsdyk, LW (UFA – signed w. PHI)
- Tyler Bozak, C (UFA – signed w. STL)
- Roman Polak, D (UFA – signed w. DAL)
- Leo Komarov, LW/C (UFA – signed w. NYI)
- Matt Martin, LW/RW (traded to NYI)
- Miro Aaltonen, C (RFA – signed in KHL)
Most of the Leafs’ overhaul is happening in the bottom-six forward group, which is where the UFA signing were (with one major exception). The 4C role is there for Lindholm or Jooris to grab (technically there’s a chance for Gauthier but don’t bet on it) and Ennis looks to slide in as 4th-line LW. Newly acquired John Tavares will of course slot into the top-six and top PP (presumably).
Development camp notes
The Leafs held development camp at the end of June, and some of the most prominent invitees were the coaching staff, which included Hayley Wickenheiser and Ryan Clowe (new coach of the ECHL-affiliate Newfoundland Growlers). 46 players attended camp, too many to list, so you can find the official listing here:
The older players stood out the most in camp. Ferguson looked like a pro at both ends of the ice, and Durzi worked his ass off (hoping for an ELC to turn pro no doubt). We got a look at 6’8” Rasanen before he heads to Russia, and a few NHL bloodliners through invitees Barnaby and Fergus. I don’t want to give any fantasy advice based on dev camp, let’s wait until pre-season at least before making brash decisions.
Thanks for reading, check back next month for our August 31-in-31 Series that dives deeper into each organization’s prospect depth charts and players development towards making the big jump!