The Toronto Maple Leafs are quickly running out of time to decide what to do with two players from their 2015 draft class.
The Toronto Maple Leafs ownership of 2015 sixth round pick, Stephen Desrocher, and their seventh round pick, Nikita Korostelev, will expire (Cap Friendly) on June 1st.
Now, normally not signing a sixth and seventh round pick wouldn’t even be something to look twice at. This is Leafs Nation, however, so every single draft pick is amazing and has a high ceiling.
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Stephen Desrocher (Kingston Frontenacs)
Desrocher is having his best offensive season in the OHL, with 36 points in 50 games for Kingston. – but there’s a catch. Of those 36 points only 16 are at 5v5, and only seven of those 16 are primary points.
His best offensive season – in total numbers – isn’t having much of an impact on the Frontenacs in the sense that he isn’t replaceable.
The common theme on Desrocher is size, strength and reliable. While there’s nothing wrong with any of the three, they need to be combined with some sort of skill mention. That’s not a frequent occurrence for Desrocher and likely keeps him out of a contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
He hasn’t wowed anyone since the draft or increased the quality of his game to a level that forces the organization to give an extended look.
Nikita Korostelev (Peterborough Petes)
Korostelev has 56 points in 48 games for Sarnia/Peterborough this season and, like Desrocher, is enjoying his best total points season in the OHL.
Korostelev has 33 points at 5v5 this season, for a 5v5 points percentage of 58.9%, with a whopping 30 – or 90.9% – coming in as primary points. For comparison, prospect darling Jeremy Bracco has a 5v5 point percentage of 51.5% and a 79.4% primary point percentage.
“A deft skater that plays a skill-based, puck-possession game. Very creative with the puck: can let loose an accurate bullet, utilize his stickhandling ability to create chances, or make a seeing-eye pass to an open teammate.” (Elite Prospects)
Korostelev is a player who has performed better than some of the Leafs higher picks in the last two years and might be worth taking a chance on to play with the Marlies.
He has the even strength game down pat at the Junior level, and likely deserves a look in the AHL before making a final decision.