With the Maple Leafs, for now at least, operating without their first two draft choices, the pressure for the scouting staff actually intensifies.
Can the team find jewels in the later rounds?
We spoke to a large sampling of players who may or may not be available should the Leafs choose 62nd in the June 25,-26 entry draft in Los Angeles. Here are their stories.NAME:
Edmonton, AB, Canada HEIGHT:
12 goals, 31 assists, 43 points, 70 PIMs, 71 games.
On a team build largely on the exploits of spectacular Swiss star Nino Niederreiter, Edmonton native Troy Rutkowski exists as a counter point.
Rutkowski is as quiet as Niederreiter is flamboyant, but his size and offensive skills are nonetheless drawing notice.
Rutkowski models his game on one of the NHL’s most polished blue-line attackers.
“I like the way Mike Green plays. I probably haven’t got that kind of offence but he’s so smart when he doesn’t have the puck. But then I have Nino to shoot the puck.”
Like many prospects, Rutkowski found leaving home the toughest part of his journey.
“It was a good experience but of course, it was hard. I was just 16 but looking back on it now, it was a very good experience.”
His goal was to spread the word about his game, but that shouldn’t be difficult. First, scouts who journeyed to see the Swiss star couldn’t help but notice Rutkowski’s polished offence.
Secondly, 12 goals is a heady total for an 18-year-old defenceman.
“This whole process is more about letting teams know who you are and what you are like as a person, “ he said.
What he is like, is quiet. Quiet as a grain silo.
Light on nonsense and silent until they have something to say, Western league players graduate to a league that already espouses their values.
The idea is enough to evince a small grin from Troy Rutkowski.
“Every Western kid is a good kid,” he said.
Author: Mike Ulmer | Mapleleafs.commentator