Leafs’ Entry Draft Review (Day 2)

By Randy Nicholson

A summary of activity in the Maple Leafs’ Camp on the second day of the NHL Entry Draft in Sunrise, Florida.

The names, generally, are not as well known as the ones called in the earlier rounds. In many ways, however, it is the second day of the draft that really separates the successful franchises from the pretenders. The truest gauge of any organization’s scouting prowess is the ability to unearth hidden gems in rounds 5 through 9 (long after many observers have essentially lost interest in the proceedings).

Here is a thumbnail assessment of the players selected by the Maple Leafs on Day Two.

Kyle Wellwood (C – Belleville, OHL) : The 2000/2001 OHL scoring champion wouldn’t have been there for the Maple Leafs in round five if there weren’t some serious reservations about his long term pro potential. At 5-10 and 190 pounds, Wellwood certainly doesn’t have ideal NHL size and his skating is average at best. Many scouts give much of the credit for Kyle’s scoring title to line mates Randy Rowe and Branko Radivojevic, both of whom also finished in the top five. To be fair, Wellwood has a wide range of offensive skills (especially puckhandling and playmaking) and was superlative for the Bulls this season. Though drafting is largely a matter of judging a player’s potential, there should always be room to recognize outstanding performance as well.

Max Kondratiev (D – Togliatti, Russia) : Kondratiev is a swift rearguard who represented his country at the Under-18 Tournament this year. Maxim is 6-1 but unusually light (176 pounds) for a Russian defenseman and will likely require several more seasons at home before trying his luck in the NHL.

Jaroslav Sklenar (W – Brno, Czech Republic) : Sklenar is a classic European forward who skates like the wind, can change direction in a phone booth and fires rockets from the wing. Jaroslav has decent size (6-1, 172) but will need to improve his upper body strength significantly before turning pro.

Ivan Kolozvary (W – Trencin, Slovakia) : Kolozvary was actually rated higher by the NHL Central Scouting Service than either of the 2 players (Kondratiev, Sklenar) drafted by the Maple Leafs directly ahead of him. Small (6-0, 169) and fast, Ivan played several games with Trencin’s senior team this season and acquitted himself very nicely in the process.

Jan Chovan (G – Belleville, OHL) : Chovan, who hails from Bratislava, Slovakia, was a finalist for OHL Rookie-Of-The-Year in 2000/2001. Jan battled through a nagging leg injury to post a .903 save percentage, 2.84 GAA and 2 shutouts for the Bulls this season. Ironically, Chovan’s strong play enabled him to wrest Belleville’s #1 job away from Carlo Colaiacovo’s twin brother, Paulo.

Tomas Mojzis (D – Moose Jaw, WHL) : Mojzis, Moose Jaw’s first selection in last year’s CHL Import Draft, demonstrated outstanding playmaking and skating skills in Western League action this season. Tomas has good size (6-1, 192) and was a mainstay on the Warrior’s power play, picking up 11 goals, 36 points (and 115 PIM) in 72 games.

Michael Knoepfli (C – Georgetown, OPJHL) : Knoepfli was a dominant force in the Ontario Provincial Junior League this season, scoring 45 goals and 83 points in 47 games for the Georgetown Raiders. Michael is very strong on his skates and possesses natural scoring ability. He is signed to play hockey at Cornell next year and will be expected to play a major role in the Big Red’s attack.