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:
Scarborough, ON HEIGHT:
211 lbs.CENTRAL SCOUTING RANK:
29 goals, 33 assists, 62 points, 35 PIMs, 60 games.
Devante Smith-Pelly is incapable of giving a standard answer. It just isn’t in him.
His parents own a café but he hasn’t eaten there.
“I kind of try to watch what I eat,” he said. “The stuff there isn’t exactly the healthiest. There are muffins, patties, sandwiches, you name it.”
Why did his parents bestow two surnames on him? Couldn’t tell you.
His Dad operates a limo service. There have been famous people in back: “Drew Doughty, (Buffalo Sabre) Tyler Ennis, a couple of music people,” he said.
And that perhaps is the meatiest thing the discerning Devante Smith-Pelly will give you. Music types come and go. A hockey player sits in your Dad’s car, you pay attention.
Smith-Pelly describes himself a power forward and he is indeed a handful with a low centre of gravity and enough muscle to brush off just about anyone in the OHL.
But unlike other prospects who built up their penalty minutes as assiduously as they pad their offensive stats, Smith-Pelly doesn’t fight. He just hasn’t seen the need.
“I don’t shy away from that kind of stuff. I am not looking for it, but I haven’t been challenged. I have gotten the question, why I haven’t fought more. I really can’t explain it.”
In one season with the Majors, Smith-Pelly has boosted his goalscoring from 13 to 29 and his points to 62 from 25. More impressive has been his plus minus. As a rookie, he took home a minus -4. Last year, he swung 31 goals and a plus 27.
Meanwhile his penalty minutes have crept along, up 11 from the 24 minutes he incurred in his rookie season.
He says his major junior wake-up call came as a rookie.
“Going into my 16-year-old year, getting scratched a couple of times was different. I was a guy who was playing big minutes every night, but it’s something that taught me not to take anything for granted. There will always be people better than you. You just have to keep working.”
Author: Mike Ulmer | Mapleleafs.commentator