After the Maple Leafs completed their participation in the 2016 NHL entry draft Saturday at First Niagara Center, Mark Hunter, the organization’s director of player personnel – and the man who watches more young hockey players than just about anyone else on the planet – took a few minutes to meet with the media and provide some brief thoughts on most of the youngsters Toronto drafted from Rounds 2-7. Here’s what Hunter had to say:
Yegor Korshkov, RW, Yaroslavl (31st overall): I’ve seen him in the world juniors, big strong guy, has good skils. Evgeny Namestnikov, who does some scouting for the Leafs, he coached him all year. He’s the one who pushed (Leafs and Marlies winger Nikita) Soshnikov, so to me it was a no-brainer, but we’ll see. He’s got to get better, of course, got to get stronger, and (we) think he’s got a good upside. He’s going to play in the KHL. There’s no issues there, we’ll let him develop. It’s a good league, so it’s just a matter of when he’s ready. Hopefully when he’s ready to come over here, he’s ready to step in our lineup.
Carl Grundstrom, RW, Modo (57th overall): To me, he’s like a Brendan Gallagher. Spunky, plays a hard two-way game. He’s tough. He’s a gritty player, smart player. I think he’s a (Leo) Komarov kind of player.
Joseph Woll, G, U.S. National Development Program (57th overall): Brian Daccord, who has been doing some scouting for us on the goaltending side, really loved this goalie. He’s big – 6-foot-3 – he’s going to a good program to play in Boston (at Boston College), and we like him. We think he’s athletic, and he’s very strong mentally.
James Greenway, D, U.S. National Development Program (72nd overall): The Greenway boy is a big boy, and the (Nicolas) Mattinen kid (Toronto drafted in the sixth round) is a big boy, and we believe they’ve got some good skills.
Adam Brooks, C, Regina (92nd overall): The Brooks boy, we really believe in his skill and his talent. We’ll have to wait and see at our camp, and see how he looks see how he feels. Hopefully he gets a little bit stronger and we go from there. He’s somebody we’ll give an opportunity to play, but if it’s better for his development to go back to the Western Hockey League, we’ll do what’s best for him. Everybody wants to draft a (player born in) 1998, but he brought it every night. Very competitive player. Very intelligent. He’s somebody that willed his team into winning hockey games. Their team went to seven games against Red Deer, and he was one of the main reasons. They had a very young team, and he was one of the older guys who led the way.
Keaton Middleton, D, Saginaw (101st overall): He defends very well. He’s a big, strong kid, one of the tougher kids, we believe. in the draft. Of course, he’s got to make quicker puck decisions, and if he can do that, there’s good upside here on his will.
Jack Walker, LW, Victoria (152nd overall): Very fast, can shoot. We really believe his speed, it’s exceptional. We really believe there’s more upswing with his offensive abilities.
Nicolas Mattinen, D, London (179th overall): He got hidden in the Memorial Cup, had a good team. (I) know him, (I) drafted him, so I feel good about his upside. He’s a big, strong kid that just needs a little bit of time, of course. And he’ll get ice time next year to show how good he is.
Nikolai Chebykin, LW, MVD Balashikha 2 (182nd overall): He’s a big, strong kid. Our scouts liked him – (Leafs director of European Scouting) Ari (Vuori), he wanted him, and our European (scouts) – (European scout) Thommie (Bergman wanted him) – so we stepped up and took him. He’s at KHL camp right now. (He’s) a young man we think has good upside.