Sunday, November 3, 2013

One To Watch: Toronto Maple Leafs

I think a person could make a pretty good argument that Toronto's prospect strength comes on the blueline. Perhaps the Buds would agree considering they didn't add to that particular position at the 2013 NHL Draft.

Obviously Morgan Rielly leads the pack of would-be future NHL blueliners and he's proving early on this year that that future could be sooner than some expect. Stu Percy and Matt Finn are fine prospects in their own right and Jesse Blacker provides depth in the organization. 

I'm not selling the organization short at other positions though as there are a number of young players that I have liked through their junior careers and a few that I like even still as pros. 

2012 Choice: Joe Colborne - I figured that last year was going to be the breakthrough season for the former Camrose Kodiak and Denver Pioneer. He overcame a wrist injury that hampered his productivity and confidence and it seemed to me that Colborne was an opportunity away from sticking with the big club. It didn't happen though and the Calgary native eventually found himself playing for the Flames this year and he's having a modicum of success with his third NHL organization. 

My pick for 2013-14 One to Watch with the Leafs comes after the jump.

Andrew MacWilliam (D)
Toronto Marlies
6'2, 226 lbs
Drafted 7th round, 2008

Photo: Derek Ruttan / QMI Agency
He may not appear on the Leafs website for some reason but Andrew MacWilliam isn't a player that should be forgotten about. After turning heads during camp in September, MacWilliam has taken his game to the farm and dressed for 7 of the 9 games the Marlies have played. 

Sure, MacWilliam hasn't registered a point yet this year but considering his 4 goals in four years at North Dakota, that shouldn't surprise anyone. The big Alberta born defenceman isn't expected to contribute on the offensive side of center ice; his job is his own end and putting opponents through the boards. 

He does lead the Marlies with 26 PIMs despite not appearing in every game so take that for what you will. 

Photo: UND Athletics
MacWilliam was captain at North Dakota and that says something about his character and leadership abilities. He's also got a pretty good sense of humor as this classic Matt Greene/Brad Miller Time episode proves.

How will "Animal" do in his first pro season? Does his college status as tough, stay at home stalwart carry over to the AHL? It would be reasonable to expect a professional learning curve but after an impressive NHL camp, might MacWilliam be closer to the elusive call up than imagined in the summer?

He's not the flashy prospect but there is no reason to write off Andrew MacWilliam as a potential Maple Leaf and that's why he's my pick as One to Watch in 2013-14. 

Up Next: Ottawa Senators

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