I’ll be honest – I’m not going to pretend I watched every minute of the Leafs’ rookie team match-ups with the youngsters from Chicago, Pittsburgh and Ottawa. Still, sandwiched in around the opening weekend of football and the rest of my shenanigans, I did manage to watch a couple periods, and of course, I caught the convenient Game in 6 clips to see what I missed. That said, here’s what I took away from the rookie camp.
- Matt Frattin has an absolute bomb of a shot. I first noticed it while I was watching highlights of him at North Dakota, but the one-timer he scored on the powerplay against the Senators just reminded me of how good of a shot he has. He didn’t have a statistically impressive showing, which I kind of expected him to, but if he had, we wouldn’t have put much stock in it anyway. His real test will be in the preseason, where he, according to Brian Burke, has a shot at making the wing on the 3rd line.
- With Mark Owuya and Garrett Sparks, the Leafs have added to an already deep pool of young goaltending talent. I’m not gonna pretend either one looked like a budding Patrick Roy, but both looked like they have some decent talent for Francois Allaire to shape and mold over the next few seasons. There’s no pressure on either of them to perform right away, with Reimer, Gustavsson, Scrivens and Rynnas already ahead of them in the system.
- Damn, Jake Gardiner is fast. I think it’s still a very long shot for him to come close to unseating one of the already established NHL-level defenseman that are expected to make the roster this season, but he and Jesse Blacker have demonstrated a ton of talent, and Burke should be very secure in the future of his defensive corps.
- Greg McKegg should, in my opinion, make the jump to the AHL this season. He’s shown he can dominate at the OHL level, and I don’t see what another season down there will do for his development. I’m no genius, but I’d like to see what he can do during a full season against bigger, closer-to-NHL-level opponents. He’s got silky smooth hands, good speed, sees the ice well, and plays with a bit of an edge.
- At the same time, lanky winger Sondre Olden will be coming to North America and joining McKegg’s Erie Otters for the 2011-12 season. The opportunity for two well-regarded prospects to develop together from junior level onward is certainly a rare one (I’d actually like to see if there’s any other current NHL teammates that have played together since as far back as juniors – the Sedins excluded). Olden had a pretty good tournament, showed off a pretty solid shot and clearly has a ton of size to build on.