Toronto Maple Leafs: Catching up with Jeremy Bracco before training camp

WINDSOR, ON - MAY 28: Forward Jeremy Bracco
WINDSOR, ON - MAY 28: Forward Jeremy Bracco /

We were able to catch up with Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Jeremy Bracco at the 2017 NHLPA Rookie Showcase.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Jeremy Bracco had a massive 2017.

The 2015 draftee made his way over to the OHL two years ago after leaving Boston College in favour of playing for the Kitchener Rangers.

His first season in junior went off without a hitch, with Bracco scoring 64 points in 49 games while helping the Rangers to the second round of the OHL Playoffs.

In his sophomore campaign, he bettered his numbers, with 51 points in his first 27 games with Kitchener. Bracco was traded to the Windsor Spitfires at the trade deadline, where he continued to flourish. He had 32 points in the final 30 games, giving him 83 points in 57 games.

Windsor was eliminated from the OHL playoffs in seven games by London, however, they got a second chance as the host of the 2017 Memorial Cup.

They took full advantage, beating Erie in the finals to win the tournament in front of their home crowd.

“We knew our second chance would come around,” Bracco said. “To get to play in a tournament like that against world class talent from all three leagues, it was a lot of fun.”

Bracco also got a chance to represent the United States in the 2017 World Juniors. He played a big role for them, tallying five points over seven games. During the gold medal game, Bracco wasn’t able to score, which is something U.S. teammate and Jets prospect Jack Roslovic reminded him of during the interview. (Bracco reminded him that he did keep the U.S. alive in the semi-final shootout against Russia)

The brotherhood shared between the U.S. players was on display as Bracco got to reunite with many of the members of that team at the NHLPA Rookie Showcase.

“I got to play with some of the guys here in this U.S. Development program over the previous two years, we had a ton of the same guys so it was special to win the gold in Montreal, against Canada and to come back the way we did,” Bracco said. “That team had a lot of fight in us, and it’s something I’ll remember forever.”

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The 20-year-old also added another achievement to add to his mantle last year as he signed his entry-level contract with the Maple Leafs in March.

“They gave me a call and wanted to show a vote of confidence to a guy they picked, that was really nice of them,” he said.

As for whether he was worried about when he would get the call, Bracco had no doubts.

“I knew it would come if I worked hard, played the way I could and showcase my skills, I knew it would work itself out.”

The showcase is the last chance for Bracco to enjoy his summer, as the rookie tournament and Leafs training camp start shortly. Bracco will participate in both and has his sights set on the pros this season.

“Obviously I want to be up with the Leafs as soon as possible. But I think for me it’s just whenever I’m ready, I’ll make the jump,” he said. “Wherever I start or whatever happens, I want to just keep developing and learning things along the way.”

As for the move to the OHL from NCAA, Bracco says he has no regrets about his decision and feels happy with his time in the OHL and where it’s gotten him.

It will be interesting to watch the winger progress during his first season in professional hockey. Bracco says that Connor Brown has been a mentor to him and that he’s been able to hang out with the Toronto native and learn from him.

The likely scenario for the winger is that he ends up with the Toronto Marlies this season, but with his skill set, he’s not far off from securing a full-time NHL gig.

Next: Toronto Maple Leafs: Rookie Tournament Roster Released

Where do you see Bracco playing in the Leafs organization this season? If he plays with the Marlies, how long until he’s with the Leafs? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section.