While most eyes are fixed squarely on the World Cup of Hockey (and with very good reason), the Toronto Maple Leafs will kick off the annual ‘Rookie Tournament’ in London, Ontario tomorrow.
With Ottawa, Montreal and Pittsburgh all putting together a ‘young team’ (easy Ottawa, not sure Alfredsson is eligible), the three game round robin is a great opportunity to watch the potential future stars within each organization.
Last year, the Leafs had William Nylander and Mitch Marner headlining the bill but this year the lineup seems to have a few more of the established Leafs faces, with recent Draft picks sprinkled into the group.
Mitch Marner returns to London, after a dominant year with his Junior club, looking to take the first step in what he hopes is earning a spot with the NHL team in Toronto later this fall.
Marner has had a very effective off-ice training session this summer, looks to take his gains all the way to the Air Canada Center to start the season in October. Like many of his future teammate, Mitch has been skating at the Master Card Center of Excellence in Etobicoke over the last few weeks and has been getting very solid reviews in both effort and skill from the local MSM that attends these scrimmages. All positive news, if you are a fan of Mitch Marner and your Toronto Maple Leafs moving forward.
Other notables at Camp are Jeremy Bracco, Dmytro Timashov, Andrea Johnson in the group of forwards. Along the blueline, young names like Keaton Middleton, Andrew Nielsen, Travis Dermott, along with established Leafs prospect Rinat Valiev will have my attention focused on that area of the ice.
Between the pipes the Leafs have tapped Antoine Bibeau (Marlies/Leafs) and Kasimir Kaskisuo (signed NHL contract) to backstop this younger group that is representing the home team. Last year, it was clear that goaltenders needed to be a solid part of this tournament as the Baby Baby Leafs outplayed the opposition early but got beat by shoddy performances in net, which led to a phone call to get Garrett Sparks to London immediately.
The Coaching Staff will be led by Marlies Coach Sheldon Keefe along with his assistants Gord Dineen and A.J. MacLean.
Your fearless leader, and main Leafs Hub scribe, Jude MacDonald will be in London (with a group of other characters) this weekend bringing you all of the behind the scene updates, interesting stories and pictures. Stay tuned.
Roster, Schedule and Notes.