Toronto Maple Leafs heavy in OHL prospects at the junior level

By John-Eric Iannicello

Stuart Percy - Toronto Maple Leafs

Photo: Stuart Percy is one of several prominent defensive prospects the Maple Leafs have at the CHL level. (Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

The Toronto Maple Leafs junior prospects feature a handful of the organizations top young talent such as Tyler Biggs, Matt Finn, Morgan Rielly, and Stuart Percy. In total the Maple Leafs have eight prospects playing in the Ontario Hockey League, and only two in Rielly (WHL) and Dominic Toninato (USHL) playing in other North American junior leagues. The Maple Leafs have three prospects from the junior level heading to World Junior camps this December.

OHL

Garret Sparks, G, Guelph Storm
Acquired: 7th round (190th overall) in 2011

In his third OHL season, Garret Sparks continues to trend upwards in his development. The 19-year-old has been a workhorse for the Guelph Storm this season, continuing where he left off last season when he appeared in 59 games. After a tough start where he posted a 3.77 goals against average and a .897 save percentage in his first 14 games through the months of September and October, Sparks has rebounded in excellent fashion. He sits ninth overall the OHL with a 2.75 goals against average, and seventh in save percentage with .917. He has 18 wins in 33 starts including four shutouts. He is set to battle for the back-up position with Team USA at the upcoming World Junior Championships as it is expected that John Gibson (ANA) will secure the starters position.

Tyler Biggs, RW, Oshawa Generals
Acquired: 1st round (22nd overall) in 2011

After opting not to return to the University of Miami (Ohio), Tyler Biggs jumped ship to the OHL. So far, Biggs has produced as expected with the Oshawa Generals seeing top-six duty and primary power play duties. He sits second in team scoring with 15 goals and 18 assists through 34 games. He is third on the team in penalty minutes with 42, and has four fighting majors on the year. Like Sparks, Biggs will take a run at a spot on Team USA's roster this December.

Connor Brown, RW, Erie Otters
Acquired: 6th round (156th overall) in 2012

A late round selection from the 2012 draft, the Maple Leafs sixth-round pick has done exceptionally well on a young Erie Otters team. As captain of the Otters, and paired primarily with 15-year-old phenom Connor McDavid, Brown has 17 goals and 26 assists in 35 games this season. His point totals are good for 12th in league scoring. While his numbers are likely inflated a bit due to the play of McDavid, Brown is a talented player in his own right after leading the Otters in scoring last season with 25 goals and 53 points. 

Josh Leivo, LW, Sudbury Wolves
Acquired: 3rd round (86th overall) in 2011

Josh Leivo came into the season with large expectations and a bigger role with the Sudbury Wolves, after the departure of a few key players from last year's club. Leivo has had to battle a bit of adversity in the first half of the OHL season. He performed well as a member of Team OHL at the Subway Super Series, but shortly after he would be diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome which caused him to miss over two weeks of hockey.

He has 15 goals and 19 assists in 29 games this season. Even though Leivo missed a handful of games since his injury, he is the top scorer on the team. Leivo is a driving force offensively for the Wolves who have struggled this season to produce offense. 

David Broll, LW, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Acquired: 6th round (152nd overall) in 2011

David Broll, now a seasoned veteran at the OHL level, has started to find a bit more of an offensive groove this season. He has 11 goals and 15 assists in 35 games. His career high in points is only 34 and he should easily surpass those numbers this season. While his numbers are not earth shattering, any offensive contributions Broll can make will only be a bonus to his style of game. He already signed an entry-level deal with the Maple Leafs and has drawn praise from Maple Leafs brass for his play with the Toronto Marlies at the end of last season.

Ryan Rupert, C, London Knights
Acquired: 6th round (157th overall) in 2012

Ryan Rupert so far this season has not been able to find the groove he established last year with the London Knights where he scored 17 goals and added 31 assists. He had to deal with a shoulder injury that kept him out the month of November, and only scored his first goal of the season (an empty netter) on December 7th. At 5'9, Rupert may need to bring a stronger offensive presence to really establish his game at the next level. The 18-year-old does not earn many friends with his play, and will need to find a way to balance his borderline play while not being a liability.

Matt Finn, D, Guelph Storm
Acquired: 2nd round (35th overall) in 2012

Storm captain Matt Finn has produced very well this season and has continued to be a workhorse for the Storm. The 18-year-old has 11 goals and 12 assists for 23 points in 28 games. He is 12th overall in OHL defensive scoring. Finn missed a few games in November with what was originally thought to be the flu but was actually mononucleosis. He played through his mono, logging huge minutes in all situations as the Storm's go-to player on the back-end. He was pulled out of the lineup on November 11th, and returned to the lineup on the 30th of November.

Stuart Percy, D, Mississauga Steelheads
Acquired: 1st round (25th overall) in 2011

After an injury plagued 2011-12 campaign that saw the 19-year-old limited to only 34 games, Percy has appeared in 33 games this season as captain of the Mississauga Steelheads. The two-way defenseman has eight goals and 12 assists. He played for Team OHL against Team Russia in the Super Series, but did not earn an invite to Team Canada's World Junior camp. The 2012-13 season is expected to be Percy's last in the OHL as he makes the transition to the Toronto Marlies roster full-time next season.

WHL

Morgan Rielly, D, Moose Jaw Warriors
Acquired: 1st round (5th overall) in 2012

The 2012 fifth-overall selection has had many eyes on him this season after he was limited to only 18 regular season games last year. On an offensively starved Moose Jaw Warriors squad, Morgan Rielly is second in team scoring with seven goals and 21 assists in 33 games. He is also sixth overall in WHL defensive scoring. Rielly was a standout at the Super Series for Team WHL and is expected to play a key role for Team Canada at the upcoming World Juniors.

USHL

Dominic Toninato, C, Fargo Force
Acquired: 5th round (126th overall) in 2012

Making the jump from Minnesota High School hockey, Dominic Toninato has showcased himself quite well as a rookie for Fargo Force in the USHL. Toninato is third in team scoring with 10 goals and 18 assists in 26 games. Toninato also sits tied for ninth in league scoring. He is off to join Tony Cameranesi at Minnesota-Duluth for the 2013-14 season. The 6'2 forward is seen as a long-term project with good potential should he continue to develop.