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:
172 lbs.CENTRAL SCOUTING RANK:
19 goals, 35 assists, 54 points, 12 PIMs, 43 games.
His Dad’s name is Brad and like so many young hockey players at the entry draft, Ryan Spooner figures he owes his Dad pretty well everything.
Never a big kid, Spooner never had the benefit of terrific size to bull his way to the net as he worked his way up through his Ottawa area minor hockey system with his Dad behind the bench. Ryan instead used what he had in abundance. Speed.
It fell to Brad Spooner to remind his son that there were scads of NHL players, Daniel Briere and Patrick Kane among them, who thrived despite lower-case size.
“My dad used positive reinforcement,” Spooner said. “He wasn’t those dads always asking for more when they knew it wasn’t there.”
You don’t slough off direction, he said, when it comes from your father.
“It’s because of him you have a good bond and respect,” he said. “He’s a good coach. When your dad says something, you have to listen.”
Small wonder then that leaving for Peterborough at 16 was the hardest thing Spooner has had to do.
Spooner was the eighth overall pick for the Petes after a 147-point season in minor midget. He followed that up with a 30-goal rookie campaign in the OHL.
Last year he won the William Hanley Trophy for sportsmanship, becoming the first Pete since Mike Ricci to garner the award.
Not a bad link for Spooner. Ricci squeezed 16 years in the NHL out doing the little things. While lacking size, Spooner will bring offence and an emerging defensive conscience to whatever team drafts him.