The Maple Leafs have released the 24 players that will be playing in the annual rookie tournament held this year in Kitchener, Ontario.
As per mapleleafs.com, the Leafs have announced the 24 players that will partake in the annual rookie tournament which will be held starting on September 6. The tournament will see a team lead by Marlies coaches Dallas Eakins, Gord Dineen and Derek King face off against rookies from the Ottawa Senators, the Boston Bruins and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
See the complete list here:
This squad will be the deepest and the most interesting rookie group that the Leafs have iced in the recent history of the tournament. Most notably, fans will be ecstatic to get some glimpses of 7th overall pick Nazem Kadri, memorial cup winner Dale Mitchell and stay at home defenseman Carl Gunnarsson who represented Sweden at the past World Championships in Bern.
Also playing will be former college players Viktor Stalberg, Tyler Bozak and Christian Hanson who are all expected to compete for spots on this year’s version of the blue and white. Leaf fans should also be excited to see the play of Mikhail Stefanovich. The large Belarussian sniper is starting look like a draft steal from 2008 as his play continues to improve and he shows the signs of potentially being a sniper at the professional level; not to mention he is no small kid at 6’4.
With Justin Pogge out, this year’s tournament will feature an intriguing goaltending roster with Jonas Gustavsson and James Reimer getting the call for the rookie Leafs. Gustavsson will be sporting his number 50 jersey and will look to show why Brian Burke called him the best goalie not currently in the NHL. Gustavsson will be as important as almost any other player on the roster this year as he will hopefully provide the back-up goaltending the Leafs have lacked in the past few years and could push Vesa Toskala for the starting job. James Reimer is expected to start the year splitting time with Joey MacDonald in the AHL this year but outplayed Justin Pogge last year and won the confidence of the organization. The goaltending position may be the most wide open as Brian Burke has stated that goaltenders are the one position that has to audition for its spot on a nightly basis.
This tournament should be an exciting prelude to the main camp which starts approximately a week later in September and should give us some concrete highlights of these prospects at work.
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Written by Mike Crupi