An interesting prospect that should be around when the Leafs get their turn at the draft, Matthew Puempel is a good combination of size and skill. A player that will certainly get another season or two at the junior level before making the jump even to the AHL, Puempel finished his sophomore season with 34 goals and 69 points, improving on his numbers from his rookie year (33 goals, 65 points). What makes Puempel’s numbers impressive is that the Peterborough Petes, one of the worst teams in the OHL this year, scored the 2nd fewest goals in the league, as they were one of just two teams to finish with less than 200 goals.
Puempel’s rookie season had him on most people’s radar coming into the season, and some even projected he could go as high as the top ten. Instead, he finished this season as the last member of the International Scouting Service’s top 30 prospects. He rose to 28th among North American skaters according to the Central Scouting Service, so on paper, he should be around when Burke takes the podium. Again, like Tomas Jurco, Puempel might be a better option with the Leafs’ second pick, and if he’s still around when they pick in the 2nd round, he would be a great selection. If the Buds somehow work higher into the first round, don’t expect to hear Puempel’s name called.
At 6’0, 196 lbs, Puempel’s got pretty good size, especially for an 18-year old kid. As you’ll see in the highlight reel below, he’s got a lot of passion for the game, and that, combined with his size, impressive shot and good hands make it pretty much a certainty that he’ll end up in an NHL organization on draft day, but it just may not be the Leafs. Not to say that the Leafs couldn’t use a sizable forward with better-than point-per-game scoring skills, but there may be some more talented options that would have a better chance to contribute to the Leafs a bit sooner. His -33 rating may hurt his draft status a bit, however.