The Toronto Maple Leafs have only one player currently playing in the Memorial Cup. That player is Jesse Blacker.
Selected with the 58th overall pick in the 2009 NHL entry draft, Blacker is arguably the Leafs top defensive prospect. In 62 games with the Owen Sound Attack this season, he tallied 10 goals and 44 assists for 54 points. He added five goals and 11 assists for 16 points in 22 games in the OHL playoffs.
Quite possibly the Leafs power-play quarterback of the future, Blacker has has had two good training camps with the Leafs and a third could help rise up the depth charts even more.
I'm not sure if he would make the team next year, but depending on what happens with free agency and trades this off-season, Blacker just might surprise a few of us.
With Brian Burke's tendency to have players play at least a year in the AHL, I'd expect him to start the season with the Toronto Marlies, but it might not be long until he plays his way onto the big club.
A member of the 2009 Memorial Cup-winning Windsor Spitfires, Blacker went home nine games into the 2009-10 season and demanded a trade. He was buried in the deep Spitfires organization and wanted a chance to take a bigger role with a team.
Windsor granted his request and sent him to Owen Sound. He went on to score six goals and 24 assists for 30 points in 48 games. He went on to eliminate his former team in this past years playoffs, preventing them from winning the Memorial Cup for the third straight year.
His point totals were good enough for fifth in OHL defenseman scoring, and if he can translate his play into the NHL, Blacker would definitely be considered a steal in the second round. In 203 OHL games, he has totaled 20 goals and 92 assists for 112 points with a plus/minus rating of plus- 45.
Born in Toronto, it would be a nice story to see a local kid have a successful career in the city he grew up in. It rarely happens, but I, for one, would like to see it happen with Blacker.
I don't know when Jesse Blacker will make the Leafs roster full time, but when he does, the Leafs just might have a new hometown hero.
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