Mar 20, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; The puck sits on the face-off circle during the New York Islanders game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. The Islanders beat the Maple Leafs 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Long Lost Leafs: Jeremy Williams

I recently wrote something on how Toronto Marlies forward Ryan Hamilton was set to pass Jeremy Williams as the team’s all-time leading goal scorer. Which got me thinking, why didn’t Jeremy Williams pan out in Toronto? Better yet, did he even get a fair shake? With so many Leafs that have come and gone over the years, it might be interesting to look back and feature some players that made an impression, if only for a short while.

So who better to look at first than Williams, who was drafted by the franchise in the seventh round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. It’s hard to believe that the right winger with a nose for the net never made more of an impact with the Maple Leafs. I say the Leafs, because he certainly made a name for himself down with the Marlies. Williams had 74 goals during his career with the baby Leafs and even had 16 the year prior in St. John’s, before the team moved to Toronto.

As a natural goal scorer, it was always puzzling that Williams never got more of a look with the big club. It seemed like every time he was recalled all he did was score. In 2008-09, he recorded five goals and seven points in just 11 games with the Leafs. Not only that, but in his career with Toronto he was recalled on four separate occasions and each time he scored in his first game up with the Leafs.

After the 2008-09 campaign, Williams was not re-signed by Toronto and opted to ink a one-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings. He was promptly sent down to their AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids where he had a 32 goal season. Again he wasn’t re-signed and ended up in the New York Rangers organization in 2010-11, where he had another 32 goal campaign with the Connecticut Whale.

Williams played last season in Europe where he notched nine goals in 35 games in the Austrian League. So far in 2012-13, he has scored five times in six games playing for Crimmitschau of the German Second Division.

In 32 NHL games, Williams has nine goals and 11 points. Those numbers are by no means spectacular, but what does stand out is the fact that he has played so few games in the NHL. At six feet and nearly 200 lbs, it’s not like Williams is undersized, and he has proven he can score at any level. We haven’t even touched on his junior career yet, where in his final two seasons he totalled 93 goals with the Swift Current Broncos.

Unfortunately for Williams, his NHL career is likely over at this point. Which is sad because to some degree it feels like it ended before it really even got the chance to start. For whatever reason, Williams’s goal scoring abilities weren’t enough for the Leafs. Perhaps he lacked truculence. Who knows?

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