Who Is the Toronto Maple Leafs Most Disappointing Prospect?

LAVAL, QC, CANADA - MARCH 6: Jeremy Bracco #27 of the Toronto Marlies skating up the ice in control of the puck against the Laval Rocket at Place Bell on March 6, 2019 in Laval, Quebec. (Photo by Stephane Dube /Getty Images)
LAVAL, QC, CANADA - MARCH 6: Jeremy Bracco #27 of the Toronto Marlies skating up the ice in control of the puck against the Laval Rocket at Place Bell on March 6, 2019 in Laval, Quebec. (Photo by Stephane Dube /Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs used to have one of the best development systems in the NHL, but things have changed.

If there’s one positive to take from this stoppage, it’s that the Toronto Maple Leafs farm team’s horrific season was able to end.

The Toronto Marlies have been one of the best American Hockey League organizations since it’s existence 15 years ago.

The Marlies have only missed the playoffs three times and have two Calder Cup championship appearances, including one title in 2018.

As someone who had the privilege of seeing the team everyday for four seasons, I’ve come to respect the life of an AHLer and how hard it is.

From 8:00AM workouts, morning skate, long bus trips across upper New York, terrible pay and the a ton of three games in three nights, it’s much harder to perform at a consistent high level in the AHL than the NHL.

Not only that, but the ability to pump yourself up on a Tuesday night in front of 2,000 fans in Albany is a skill and although they’re getting paid to do so, it’s still a hard feat to accomplish.

So, that’s what makes this so difficult in order to award someone as the most disappointing prospect of the 2019-20 season.

However, for the purpose of this discussion, the answer is Jeremy Bracco.

Toronto Maple Leafs Most Disappointing Prospect

The story of Bracco started when he was drafted 61st overall in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

Originally looking at this draft, with all expectations that Bracco was a steal at that pick, this seemed like one of the best drafts for the Leafs in sometime as they drafted Mitch Marner, Travis Dermott and Bracco with their first three picks.

Coming out of the US-Developmental team and the OHL, it was clear that Bracco was skillful, but size and attitude was always an issue. At 5’11, 185 pounds, scouts were unsure if his game would transition to the professional level.

In some respect, Bracco is a poor-man’s Marner, as both play a similar game with exceptional vision and edge-work, but also in size.

As you can see in the video above, this a play that you’d see Marner make at the NHL-level, where Bracco at his best, was able to do this night-after-night in the AHL.

That’s probably the biggest reason why Bracco has been a disappointment in the 2019-20 season. After leading the Marlies with 79 points last year, expectations were high.

Sure, Bracco was named to the AHL All-Star team this year, but many hoped he wouldn’t need to play in that game as there would be an NHL spot for him by then.

Despite being among the AHL’s best, Bracco’s points-per-game (PPG) totals dropped tremendously from 1.05 to 0.77. Not only did his PPG drop, but his goal scoring ability took a huge hit too.

For the first time in his professional career, Bracco showed the Leafs organization that he wasn’t just an assist-man when he scored 22 goals last season. However, in 44 games played this year, Bracco only has four goals.

For someone who was never known as a goal-scorer, maybe that 2018-19 season was a fluke.

It’s never fun to talk about a player in a bad-light, especially someone who missed a month due to a ‘personal leave’, but there’s a lot of expectations on the 23-year-old and hope that he could join the Leafs roster this year.

Although forward spots are hard to come by, it’s a shock that Bracco has yet to play one NHL game, as other former teammates like Pierre Engvall, Trevor Moore and Adam Brooks have seen stints.

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Bracco is more skillful than all three of those players, so the disappointment continues for every day that passes without him getting called up.

Hopefully this time-off is beneficial for Bracco’s health and before you know it, he’s a regular on the Toronto Maple Leafs.