The Toronto Maple Leafs recently announced that the 2010 Rookie Tournament will take place at the John Labatt Centre beginning on September 11th. This should be a great opportunity to see how the Leafs' young prospects have progressed over the summer, and give them a chance to showcase their talent in hopes of earning a spot on the big club in October.
This year's rookie roster should be filled with players varying in talent level and playing style. It should be interesting to watch the mix of prospects ranging from the pre-Burke era to the players drafted only a month ago by the current management and scouting team.
Not only has Brian Burke brought in tough, gritty, and hardworking players to play on the current Leafs' roster, he has also purposely drafted this style of player on many occasions within the last two years. This is in hopes that the culture change within the newly formed Leafs will stay with the Maple Leafs as long as he is General Manager, and far beyond.
Examples of such prototypical Burke draftees include Brad Ross, Kenny Ryan, Sam Carrick, Jamie Devane, and Jesse Blacker. These players bring the proper levels of truculence that Burke so desires. Add in prospects such as Marcel Mueller and Simon Gysbers, both of whom Burke signed as free agents, and you have a pretty big and tough roster to ice in September.
This is just an example of the potential Leafs' Rookie Tournament roster:
D'Amigo - Kadri - Stefanovich
Mueller - McKegg - Ryan
Ross - Irwin - Mitchell
Devane - Carrick - Greenop
Aulie - Blacker
Mikus - Holzer
Granberg - Gysbers
Reimer - Rynnas - Scrivens
That's a pretty intimidating lineup if you ask me. Burke has definitely put his fingerprint on the Toronto Maple Leafs system over the past year and a half.
The Leafs' rookies will be going up against the rookie rosters of the Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Ottawa Senators. All of these teams have fairly deep prospect pools, especially Chicago after cleaning house this year and getting some very good draft picks and prospects in return.
Young players to be on the lookout for on each of these rosters are as follows:
Forwards: Kyle Beach, Jack Skille, Jimmy Hayes, Kevin Hayes, Brandon Pirri, Jeremy Morin, Marcus Kruger, Chris Didomenico, Philippe Paradis
Defense: Dylan Olsen, Shawn Lalonde, Nick Leddy
Forwards: Eric Tangradi, Beau Bennett, Dustin Jeffrey, Nick Johnson, Nick Petersen
Defense: Simon Despres, Alex Velischek
Forwards: Jakob Silfverberg, Andre Petersson, Ilya Zubov, Zack Smith, Jakub Culek
Defense: Jared Cowen, Patrick Wiercioch, David Rundblad
The Chicago Blackhawks' rookie roster is actually downright scary, at least talent wise, and is most likely the favourite to win the tournament. The Leafs' team will most likely use their intimidation and shutdown abilities to their advantage, but will have a very tough time with the Blackhawks' highly skilled prospects. Ottawa seems to lack in both the skill and grit departments, so they may have a tough time against the other well-rounded teams.
Should be a great opportunity to see the future stars of the NHL playing their hearts out, albeit just for bragging rights. Personally, I can't wait to get a head start on seeing what the Toronto Maple Leafs' future will look like.
Please let me know what your Toronto Maple Leafs rookie roster would look like.