Toronto Maple Leafs have decent depth at European and NCAA levels

By John-Eric Iannicello

North Dakota v Minnesota

Photo: Defenseman Andrew MacWilliam recently signed an entry-level deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs. MacWilliam spent the season playing for North Dakota. (courtesy of Scott A. Schneider/Getty Images)

The Maple Leafs have several prospects playing at the NCAA and European level. Tony Cameranesi boasts the most impressive season out of any NCAA prospect, while a strong performance from Swedish defenseman Tom Nilsson has earned him an entry-level deal with the Maple Leafs. All three of the Maple Leafs European prospects are Swedish.

NCAA

Tony Cameranesi, C, Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs (WCHA)
Drafted 5th round, 130th overall, 2011

Tony Cameranesi's debut season in the NCAA was one that pushed him to the forefront of the college hockey scene. Cameranesi had a great rookie year with the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs. The 19-year-old forward, standing a mere 5'10 scored 14 goals and added 20 assists for 34 points in 38 games. His strong rookie season earned him WCHA honors when he was named to the All-Rookie Team. Like most players of his size, skating needs to be an asset to succeed at the next level, and Cameranesi has elite skating ability in all areas. Combined with deft hands, it allows for a quick strike offense off the rush. Cameranesi also has a strong hockey IQ and vision to aid in his playmaking ability. With small stature players comes questions about durability and Cameranesi is no different. Its likely Cameranesi spends the next few seasons developing strength and his overall game at the NCAA level.

Eric Knodel, D, New Hampshire Wildcats (Hockey East)
Drafted 5th round, 128th overall, 2009

A strong sophomore season at New Hampshire has pushed Eric Knodel as a prospect to watch going into next season. Originally drafted as a long-term project, Knodel has seen his offensive game come into its own this season. The 22-year-old ranked second in Wildcats defensive scoring with 10 goals and 11 assists through 38 games. He was particularly successful manning the power play where Knodel tallied five of his 10 goals. Knodel has improved in his ability to get the pucks through to the net and it has resulted in better point totals. As his confidence grows, so does his willingness to jump in offensively which Knodel has been doing more of. Knodel at 6'6 is also a lot to handle in the defensive end; an area in which he continues to improve in. Knodel has two more seasons of eligibility with the Wildcats and it's likely he fulfils them.

Andrew MacWilliam, D, North Dakota (WCHA)
Drafted 7th round, 188th overall, 2008

Captaining North Dakota this season, Andrew MacWilliam had career highs in his fourth-year at North Dakota. The 23-year-old scored only two goals this season, but added 11 assists for a career high 13 points through 41 games. His 116 penalty minutes were also career highs for the senior. MacWilliam is a thunderous checker and has a strong, hard-nosed defensive style that he thrives in. He is also an asset on the penalty kill, willing to do grind it out and block shots at will. MacWilliam's biggest weakness continues to be his skating due to his awkward skating stride. He recently signed an entry-level contract with the Maple Leafs.

Dennis Robertson, D, Brown Bears (ECAC)
Drafted 6th round, 173rd overall, 2011

Dennis Robertson, like MacWilliam, emerged into a strong leader this season at Brown. The 21-year-old has been the Bears go-to defenseman again this season. As captain of the Bears, Robertson averaged upwards of 30-minutes a night for the team. His steady play and career high in games played of 36 also resulted in career highs in points. Robertson scored three goals and added 17 assists for 20 points. Robertson has a solid frame at 6'1, and 210lbs and he's added more physicality to his game which has made him a tougher opponent to face in his own zone. He's been able to become a more aggressive checker without having to sacrifice his positioning to do so. Robertson has one more season of eligibility before he has to turn pro.

Max Everson, D, Harvard University (ECAC)
Drafted 7th Round, 203rd overall, 2011

What would have been Max Everson's second season in the NCAA was cut short after he and three other teammates were removed from Harvard's roster. Everson, along with three other players, were all removed from Harvards roster at the beginning of December due to alleged academic issues. Everson ended up joining the Omaha Lancers of the USHL for 16 games where he tallied one goal and added four assists.

Europe

Petter Granberg, D, Skellefteå HC (SEL)
Drafted 4th round, 116th overall, 2010

The 20-year-old missed a large portion of the 2012-13 season after undergoing collarbone surgery in November. The injury limited Granberg to only 13 games this season, where he was held pointless. Granberg is under contract with his current club (Skellefteå) for the next two seasons, but is expected to suit up for the Marlies next fall. Having signed an entry-level deal last summer, Granberg will be at Maple Leafs training camp come fall.

Viktor Loov, D, Södertälje SK (Allsvenskan)
Drafted 7th round, 209th overall, 2012

A product of development through the Södertälje hockey club, Viktor Loov saw steady growth in his numbers this season in Sweden. The 20-year-old scored twice and added eight assists through 40 games this season. Both of Loov's goals were scored on the man advantage. Loov is under contract with Södertälje until the end of the 2013-14 season where he'll then require an entry-level deal from the Maple Leafs.

Tom Nilsson, D, Mora IK (Allsvenskan)
Drafted 4th round, 100th overall, 2011

The fierce bodychecking rearguard Tom Nilsson had a solid season in Europe playing in Sweden's Allsvenskan league. Through 42 games, Nilsson scored one goal and added three assists. He gained increased exposure at the most recent World Junior Championship as a member of Team Sweden. Team Sweden had numerous injuries to their defensive core which allowed Nilsson to emerge as one of the team's go-to defender. Nilsson is under contract in Sweden until the conclusion of the 2015-16 season, but has recently signed an entry-level deal with the Maple Leafs. Like Granberg, Nilsson is likely to spend another season or two in Sweden where he will play for Frolunda (SEL).

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