Just as it is with watching the regular Toronto Maple Leafs, it was eerily similar with their rookies. There was moments of brilliance and great excitement, and times of absolute frustration and annoyance. This likely could be said of watching any team, but the Leafs always seem to excel at these highs and lows, and it seems the same could be said of their prospects. The Leafs fell 3-2 to the Senators on Tuesday night in a rather compelling game.
It was likely the fastest game the prospects have played in terms of pace, and the most physical, which only makes sense since they were playing the Ottawa Senators.
Jerry D'Amigo finally showed what he was capable of, absolutely flying around the ice at times creating chances and attacking the net. His blazing speed was far more evident in this game than in any of the others, and he put it to very good use on the special teams.
D'Amigo's strong forecheck allowed him to steal the puck on the penalty kill, then he sped away from the Ottawa defenders in their zone, killing time all the while.
Also, just before the second period ended, D'Amigo stole the puck again raced up the left side, then at the last moment tried to thread it over to Sam Carrick. He didn't quite make the pass because it was deflected into the net by a Senators player, scoring a shorthanded goal at a very opportune time.
Carrick also impressed this game, like D'Amigo he is a fast skater and he used that to his advantage to frustrate Ottawa on the forecheck.
Sondre Olden continues to play well, showing a disciplined style with strong instincts, especially on offense.
The same could be said of Simon Gysbers, he seems to have a very low panic level, even in precarious situations, and allows him to make the steady play consistently. It was his puck movement on the power play and shot from the point that scored the first goal, on a Bradley Ross tip.
Korbinian Holzer was strong on defense as well, playing a physical game throughout the tournament and jumping in on the rush when the situation allowed for it.
Finally, Nazem Kadri played his particular brand of pinball hockey, flying around the ice, stickhandling around players, and throwing himself at others. It is a good thing that he has bulked up over the summer, because he will need all the durability he can get with his style of play. Kadri had his fair share of opportunities, but couldn't quite convert this time. He did pick up an assist on the power play, feeding the pass for Gysbers one-timer.
Kadri showed a mature approach on the ice, when his constant hits caused one Senator to challenge him to a fight, he refused. Realizing it is his responsibility to provide an offensive spark and not sit in the box for five minutes, he let Michael Liambis come in and handle the much bigger and older player.
It is nothing to worry about, as he will likely settle down a little once he gets into training camp. His talents are obvious so production will come with time.
All in all, the rookies played a strong game and some talents have emerged through their play in the tournament. It will be interesting to see how D'Amigo fares in training camp, and whether he can continue to show an impressive amount of growth.
Likely the most positive thing to draw from the tournament is how strong the Maple Leafs' depth in goal has become over the past two years. Brian Burke has done an astounding job signing new talent, and it should pay off in the years to come.