Maple Leafs European prospect 2009-10 review

By John-Eric Iannicello

There are currently four Maple Leaf prospects playing in Europe. Defenseman Korbinian Holzer is the most intriguing prospect coming out of Europe this season.

Jerome Flaake, LW – Cologne Sharks (DEL)
6’2, 190lbs
Acquired: 5th Round, 130th overall in 2008

Flaake’s season didn’t start well. He was suspended four games due to a check from behind. He was unable to build on a solid 2008-09 season in which he tallied 16 points, and has failed to take on a prominent role with Cologne when opportunity presented itself. He’s only managed three goals and nine points in 42 games and even had a short two-game stint with the second-tier Fischtown Pinguins where he recorded three assists.

At 20, Flaake can afford to spend a few more seasons in the DEL developing his offensive game and adding strength to his frame. It’s speculated that Flaake will be joining the DEL Hamburg Freezers next season.

Leo Komarov, LW – Dynamo Moskva (KHL)
5’10, 187lbs
Acquired: 7th Round, 180th overall in 2006

Komarov left the Pelicans and the SM-Liiga altogether last season for Dynamo after signing a two-year deal with the KHL club. The 23-year-old has scored five goals and 11 assists in 47 games for Dynamo while being a good checking forward and also contributing in an offensive role when needed. In the playoffs he has one assist in four games.

Komarov is signed through next season in the KHL, and as he’ll be 24 at the end of his contract, it’s unlikely he ever plays for the Maple Leafs or in the NHL.

Korbinian Holzer, D – DEG Metro Stars (DEL)

6’3, 205lbs
Acquired: 4th Round, 111th overall in 2006

Holzer is the most intriguing European prospect for the Maple Leafs this season, with an impressive resume that includes career highs in goals, assists, points, and an appearance with Germany’s Olympic team in Vancouver.

With the Metro Stars, Holzer was second in defensive scoring with six goals and 16 assists in 52 games. His 22 points on the year shattered his previous career high of nine last season, and his 96 penalty minutes eclipsed last season’s 89.

Holzer was among the youngest players at the Olympics at 22, and second youngest on the German team to Marcel Müller (21). Holzer was held pointless at the Olympics, but he displayed a well-rounded game playing primarily on the penalty kill. He also had a handful of offensive rushes that reflected confidence in his puck-moving abilities on the Olympic stage.

The Maple Leafs would be wise to bring Holzer over for next season as the 22-year-old is willing to learn his craft in the AHL. Holzer has taken major strides playing in the DEL, and the comfort level he showed on the smaller ice in his brief Olympic stint should help ease his transition.

Dmitri Vorobiev, D – Dynamo Moskva (KHL)

6’1, 211lbs
Acquired: 5th Round, 157th overall in 2004

Once seen as an integral part to the Maple Leafs system, the lure of KHL has made Vorobiev a fading prospect within the Maple Leafs system.

After a breakout season in 2007-08 with Lada Togliatti, his offensive stats have continued to decline. This year he had only two goals and nine points in 50 games with Dynamo. In the playoffs he has two assists in four games.

With the defensive depth the Maple Leafs have amassed over the last few seasons there has been no interest in convincing Vorobiev to sign an NHL contract. He seems very content with playing in Russia and is under contract for one more season with Dynamo.

Vorobiev will be graduating from the Maple Leafs prospect list at the end of the year due to his age.