A blockbuster trade went down in the hockey world that involved one of the Toronto Maple Leafs top prospects, Fraser Minten. That deal will have an impact on the big club.
The Toronto Maple Leafs top prospect Fraser Minten was traded on Nov. 24. He was sent from the team who drafted him in the fourth round (72nd overall) from the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft, the Kamloops Blazers, to the Saskatoon Blades. The deal for Minten saw the Blazers receive a pair of first-round and a fourth-round draft pick along with forward Jordan Keller as compensation.
Along with Minten’s talent, the Blazers are losing their captain. The Blades gain one of the WHL’s best players.
Minten began the year playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs, where it appeared he may not be returned to junior.
What the Trade of Prospect Fraser Minten Means for Toronto Maple Leafs
Minten lasted four games with the Leafs. He played well but was unable to register a point. After that short trial, he was sent back to the Blazers. Once back on familiar ice, the Vancouver native thrived.
After returning to Kamloops, Minten scored three goals and added seven assists in seven games. He scored a goal in his first game with the Blades. Last season, Minten put together a 67 point campaign, registering 31 goals and 36 assists in 57 games. The Blades are confident he can continue to put up those numbers in Saskatoon.
The trade makes a difference for the Maple Leafs. It’s their hope that while Minten remains in the WHL that he’s able to continue to develop and learn from a solid leader. He was fortunate to have been taken under the wing of Shaun Clouston, the brother of multiple time WHL Head Coach of the Year winner Cory Clouston.
According to Elite Prospect, Shaun Clouston has been coaching at a high level since he was the head coach of University of California, Berkley in 1995. He was the California Golden Bears Men’s Hockey coach in the American Collegiate Hockey Association at the Division II level. Clouston then went on coach in the WCHL, WPHL, and CHL before landing in his current league in 2001. He joined Kamloops in 2019-20.
Now 55-years-old, Clouston has been coaching in some capacity in the WHL for 23 years. To say that he has experience is an understatement. He has also coached internationally, representing Canada at three tournaments, Ivan Hilinka Memorial (the tournament currently named Hilinka Gretzky Cup) in 2015 and 2016 and the Under 18 World Junior Championships in 2016.
With all that experience, however, Clouston hasn’t been able to do much winning. He does own a gold medal from the 2016 Ivan Hilinka Memorial tournament, but that’s about all.
How the Trade Benefits the Leafs
Minten’s trade will now see him playing under bench boss Brennan Sonne. The coach is considerably younger at age 36 and far less experienced than Clouston. Sonne is in his third year as head coach of the Blades after spending four seasons coaching in France.
Like Clouston, Sonne hasn’t captured the Ed Chynoweth Cup, the WHL’s championship trophy either. He did take home a gold medal from his only international coaching experience, when he was an assistant coach for Canada White in the Under 17 World Hockey Championships. The biggest difference that sets the two coaches apart is that Sonne is more modern in his approach to the game.
The future looks very bright for Sonne, which is great news for both Minten and the Maple Leafs. Sonne was last year’s Dunc McCallum Memorial Trophy winner, the WHL’s coach of the year award.
As one of the rising stars in the league, Sonne should be a positive influence on Minten and help him get ready for the challenge ahead. At the very least, by being exposed to a new coach, it gives the Leafs prospect another perspective on how the game should be played. A new voice adds to Minten’s tool kit and will help him be a better player overall.
Minten will also now get to play with another one of the Toronto Maple Leafs prospects, Brandon Lisowsky, who is already one of Saskatoon’s assistant captains. Lisowsky was the Leafs’ seventh-round draft choice in 2022, going 218th overall. His late selection shouldn’t count him out as a possible future NHLer.
Since the Leafs drafted him, Lisowsky has done nothing but produce offense. Las season, he collected 38 goals and 33 assists for a total of 71 points in 65 games. Lisowsky will get to train and work alongside Minten for both to try and achieve their shared goal of playing in the NHL.
Though they cannot share it publicly, there’s a good chance that Toronto Maple Leafs brass are pleased with Minten’s trade. By season’s end, he will be even more NHL ready.