Toronto Maple Leafs: Is Brad Ross a Missing Ingredient?

Curtis NgContributor IIIMarch 20, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 26:  Brad Ross, drafted in the second round by the Toronto Maple Leafs poses for a portrait during day two of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft at Staples Center on June 26, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

There are currently two players in the NHL who have over 100 penalty minutes and 30 goals at the same time: Scott Hartnell (130 PIMs, 35 goals, 64 points) and Corey Perry (106 PIMs, 35 goals, 56 points).

Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Brad Ross isn't projected to be a top-line 30-goalscorer, but he is expected to be a super-pest who can put up points.

On Tuesday, the Leafs signed Ross to a three-year entry-level contract.

The 19-year-old winger recently concluded a highly successful season with the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League, tallying 42 goals and 82 points in 68 games played.

Remarkably, he was also a plus-15 and had 163 PIMs.

Ross finished third on the team in scoring behind only Sven Bartschi, top prospect of the Calgary Flames, who had 33 goals and 94 points and Ty Rattie, picked 32nd overall by the St. Louis Blues in 2011, who had 57 goals and 121 points.

He finished 17th in the WHL in scoring and out of the top 20, he was the only player to have more than 100 PIMs.

You bring up Ross' name, and comparisons to former Leaf pest Darcy Tucker are inevitable.

They aren't identical players and it's a bit unfair to compare players who aren't even out of junior to current or retired NHL players, but the resemblance is there.

Tucker's numbers in junior were significantly better than those of Ross and it would be very surprising if the kid ever scores 28 goals in a season like Tucker once did with the Leafs.

An annoying, yet skilled player is just what the Blue and White need for next year.

Think David Clarkson of the New Jersey Devils or Milan Lucic of the Boston Bruins.

Ross and the Winterhawks will face the Kelowna Rockets in the opening round of the WHL playoffs later this week.

This fall, he'll begin his professional hockey career and this Leaf fan is hoping it'll be with the big club.

A fourth line of Jay Rosehill, David Steckel and Mike Brown will look good. Ross' scoring abilities would be wasted on this line anyway.

The Leafs currently have no real third line. Perhaps the only real third-liner on the team is Joey Crabb, who is a good grinder with some skill and toughness as well (just ask Carl Gunnarsson).

Colby Armstrong has been pretty useless while Matthew Lombardi's talents have been wasted this year.

Where better to put Ross than on the third line where he can agitate and score as well?

Flank Tyler Bozak with him and Matt Frattin and you've got yourself a skilled and nasty third line. A bit young, but nasty. And mean.

The Leafs are a soft team right now, both physically and mentally. There's not enough compete and definitely not enough toughness.

Brad Ross brings both.

Here's hoping he makes the team out of camp.