Maple Leafs’ July Rookie Camp: The Unknowns
The Leafs rookie camp from July 2 to 5 will consist of 42 players. The more noteworthy names are among the 23 prospects that are property of the Leafs via the draft or free agency. This camp will also have 19 undrafted free agents, though, who are generally undrafted for a reason and have been brought in to fill the camp roster.
In the case of some, they will merely be targets for the numerous pests and power hitters among the Leafs’ property. Nevertheless, most of these undrafted players are not here merely to fill space; they were brought in by management because of their legitimate potential.
This article will briefly look at all 19 undrafted free agents and label them in one of three categories: prospect, project, or filler. The difference between a prospect and a project is their production. A prospect is a player who has shown the abilities and has also produced at an adequate level. Comparatively, a project is a player who has some tools obviously evident, but has yet to bring them together at a respectable level of competition.
The first and most important position to examine is in net. Toronto, perhaps surprisingly, did not draft a goalie and thus outside of the professional ranks only has Garrett Sparks. Therefore, they have brought in three goalies to fill this camp.
Mathias Niederberger, born 1992 – Barrie Colts (OHL)
Niederberger is an intriguing player who came over to the OHL this season from Germany after garnering some DEL playing time in 2010-11. He did a solid job as the starting goalie for Barrie. His play was particularly impressive in the playoffs, where he had a 933 save percentage.
The young German also back-stopped his country in the World Junior Division 1A and helped them return to the top division next season. He was ranked 24th in the final rankings of North American goalies and was seen as a dark horse to be drafted despite being an overage player.
The main issue on paper with Niederberger is his small stature. He is about five-foot-eleven, which does not fit the ideal prototype of an NHL goalie these days, least of all one of Francois Allaire. Nevertheless, he has to be considered a serious prospect.
Franky Palazzese, born 1993 – Kitchener (OHL)
Palazzese split time this season with John Gibson, the Ducks’ second round pick in 2011 and their statistics were extremely close on a strong Kitchener team. The close statistics and the fact he managed to split time with a top prospect bodes well for his capabilities.
Palazzese was ranked ninth in the final rankings of North American goalies and, surprisingly, went undrafted. His slight frame, the strong Kitchener team in front of him, and the fact it was his second year of eligibility likely combined to leave him out. However, he possesses a strong skill set to work with and, like Niederberger, is a serious prospect.
Ander Alcaine, born 1991 – Briancon (France)
Alcaine has apparently been brought to camp at the suggestion of Francois Allaire. Alcaine is fairly young, put up solid numbers in the French league and nearly back-stopped Spain to promotion at the World Championships Division 2A. However, as much as everyone would love to see a great story, he can be seen as nothing more than filler.
The second position to examine is defence. This position has only four undrafted invitees, which corresponds to the organizational depth the Leafs have at this position.
See complete list at: http://thehockeywriters.com/maplelea...-the-unknowns/