The draft is behind us, free agency is set to begin on Sunday and the Toronto Maple Leafs today announced the list players invited to attend their development camp.
Development camp is a great opportunity for young players to receive coaching from NHL teams, and advice on how to improve their game. For the Toronto Maple Leafs, this is a rare opportunity for all their prospects to come together as a group before they are sent off their respective junior, college or overseas clubs.
For some players who have yet to sign with an NHL team, this is the moment for them to impress and receive consideration from the Leafs organisation, including those that were drafted by the Toronto club.
46 players will attend this year’s camp and fans will be paying close attention to the chatter around particular players – especially this year’s first-round pick Rasmus Sandin.
Sandin is unlikely to make the Maple Leafs team this season but could find himself sent to the Marlies if he shows enough during development camp – much like Timothy Liljegren last season.
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Some players that are a part of the Leafs organisation but are still unsigned by the team are Joseph Woll, J.J. Piccinich and Martins Dzierkals – all of whom will be hoping to impress enough to earn contracts.
Piccinich and Dzierkals were teammates with the Orlando Solar Bears in the ECHL and will be hoping to have the opportunity to make the step up to the Marlies next year.
Woll, meanwhile, has been in impressive form for Boston College – sporting 2.48 Goal Against Average while having a save percentage of .915.
The 2016 third-round pick joined by three other goaltenders in this year’s development camp, including this year’s seventh-round pick Zachary Bouthillier.
Vladislav Kara will also be hoping to gain more advice as he hopes to continue his development in his native Russia, where he made 11 appearances in the KHL this past season.
Kara, who can play as a winger or as a centre, was a fourth-round pick of the Leafs in 2017 and had 15 points (9G, 6A) in 33 appearances in the VHL.
His performances helped him feature in five playoff appearances for Irbis Kazan of the MHL, earning five points in that time, as well as his brief spell with the top tier side.
One player that will be hoping to show what he can do is Chris Van Os-Shaw, who is coming off a storming season with the Spruce Grove Saints of the AJHL.
In his single season with the team, Van Os-Shaw had 97 points in 59 regular season games, with 51 goals and 46 assists – helping his team to an AJHL title.
The 21-year-old picked up the AJHL MVP award, most points and most goals awards whilst also being named the CJHL’s Top Forward and Player of the Year.
The hope for Van Os-Shaw is that he can impress enough to be considered as a development project, possibly for the Newfoundland Growlers – the new ECHL affiliates of the Maple Leafs.
Some players develop much later than others and his upturn in offensive production could be a sign that he might have more room to grow with the right guidance.
While it is always a long shot for players to be considered at this late stage of their development, the camp still gives the team an opportunity to assess the players in attendance and will be an exciting experience for all the young hockey hopefuls.
The full list of this year’s attendees can be found here: https://nhl.bamcontent.com/images/assets/binary/299263792/binary-file/file.pdf