Toronto Maple Leafs: Time to cut losses with Jeremy Bracco

Jeremy Bracco #27 of the Toronto Marlies takes a shot against the Laval Rocket. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
Jeremy Bracco #27 of the Toronto Marlies takes a shot against the Laval Rocket. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

Whenever a team drafts a young prospect there is always a chance they don’t live up to expectations and for the Toronto Maple Leafs, it appears that is the case with Jeremy Bracco.

Jeremy Bracco was originally selected by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the second round (61st overall) of the 2015 Draft and was viewed as a high-reward goalscoring winger after scoring 30 goals and putting up 94 points in 65 games with the US National Development Team.

In his draft year (2014-15), Bracco finished third on the USNDT in total points, sitting behind current NHL studs Matthew Tkachuk and Auston Matthews.

A number of current NHL players were involved with that particular team, including Clayton Keller, Colin White, Charlie McAvoy and Christian Fischer, and it was hoped that Bracco would continue his development in leaps and bounds and make the Leafs roster.

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Fast forward five years since he was drafted and things are not looking so great for the 5-foot-9, 181lbs right-winger, who was not included in the team’s return-to-play training camp roster, with Nick Robertson being named after a sensational season in juniors.

For Bracco, his development to the professional leagues took an interesting turn as he originally joined Boston College but decided to move into the OHL and join the Kitchener Rangers after just five games in college – having earned three assists as a freshman.

His time in juniors saw him earn a Memorial Cup title after being traded to the Windsor Spitfires, combining for 147 points (46 goals, 101 assists) in just 106 regular-season games before he jumped up to the Toronto Marlies in the AHL.

One year later and Bracco was a Calder Cup champion with the Marlies, contributing a goal in the five playoff games he featured in en route to the AHL title.

His second year as a professional saw him put up great numbers (75GP: 22G-53A) and put himself in the conversation for making the jump up into the NHL.

But that jump never came. Players around Bracco have since overtaken him in the pecking order within the Leafs organization and have featured in NHL games while the 23-year-old American has yet to have even a sniff at the big league.

As a restricted free agent this offseason, the Toronto Maple Leafs have a decision to make about whether or not they view him as having a legitimate shot at making the NHL roster over the next year, something that will be difficult with the winger-heavy Leafs.

If it’s decided that Bracco’s future lies elsewhere, the Leafs organization could look to trade his rights and acquire some form of asset in return. This would require the team to qualify the young winger before his rights expire, or at least make the trade before this occurs.

Should the Leafs deem there to be no market for Bracco, they may opt to simply let him walk in free agency by not extending him a qualifying offer, giving him the chance to move anywhere he can.

Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston recently told the Steve Dangle Podcast that this last option could become a reality, with the team unsure whether or not he has what it takes to make the step up into the NHL.

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If Bracco leaves the team that drafted him five years ago, it will be a disappointing turn of events for a prospect that was once viewed extremely highly. But that is sometimes how things pan out in hockey and clinging onto something that isn’t there is more likely to be a hindrance than a help.