Earlier today I attended the OHL game between the Niagara Ice Dogs and Peterborough Petes and was treated to a very lovely site. Leafs Interim General Manager Mr. Cliff Fletcher himself was in attendance for the Ice Dogs overtime win taking in the game and preparing himself for the upcoming NHL entry draft by scouting out some of the talent. The two prospects Fletcher was there scouting were undoubtedly Alex Pietrangelo of the Ice Dogs and Zach Bogosian of the Petes. Both players are defensemen and both are ranked in the top 5 of this years draft class.
This years draft projections show three very capable and promising defensemen in the top 5 rankings and depending on where the Leafs end up they could be making a run at either of these two players.
Putting my bias as an Ice Dogs fan aside, I believe the Mr. Fletcher was more so keeping his eye on Bogosian as he is more up the ally of what the Maple Leafs need on their defensive end. A gritty in your face defensive defensemen. With that said however I do believe that it would be wise if Fletcher also took a really good look at Pietrangelo. Some reports and reviews of his play have stated that he may not be as gifted offensively as the third top 5 ranked defenseman Drew Doughty and also a little inconsistent. However the big strength the Pietrangelo has is his puck control, and more importantly his hockey sense. He plays extremely smart with the puck and makes good decisions when he is getting rid of it. Each time he gets control of the puck he knows how to give himself multiple options to pass the to, by his patience drawing in opposing players before passing it off for his teammates to run up the ice.
I am extremely excited for the leafs to get any one of these players and hope they drop down in the standings to have a better shot at them. If they cannot win the lottery and get Steven Stamkos the leafs do have some very good options to go to after him, and they all have me equally excited.
Although Fletcher left after the second period just seeing him there scouting is a good sign that he is taking the rebuilding effort seriously, and is looking hard at the youth which is bringing back some of the excitement I've lost with the leafs.