I can’t promise that I’ll write one of these every day, but I have unexpected time on my hands, so this is as good a way of spending it as any.
In this series I’ll outline a few of the players that could be selected by the Leafs at this years NHL Entry Draft, one at a time, over the next couple of weeks.
Before we get to that, newly appointed GM of the Philadelphia Flyers, Daniel Briere, isn’t wasting any time reshaping his team for the future. The key word there being “future.”
The Flyers sent defender Ivan Provorov to the Columbus Blue Jackets, via the L.A. Kings (the Kings retained 30% of his contract before sending him to Columbus), while obtaining a 1st and 2nd round pick from Columbus, as well as former 2nd round pick Helge grans, a 2024 2nd round selection, goaltender Cal Petersen and defender Sean Walker (both salary dumps) from the Kings. Essentially, they added a 1st, 2nd, 2nd and good prospect for two salary dumps and Ivan Provorov. Not a bad bit of business.
Additionally, Briere spoke about the teams willingness to listen on 24 year old goaltender, Carter Hart. Hart was selected in the 2nd round of the 2016 draft and is a bonafide starting goalie in the NHL, which has a lot of fans from various teams hoping they end up with the goaltender on their roster.
The debate is ongoing on whether or not the Leafs need an upgrade in goal, considering Ilya Samsonov was tied for 6th in SV%, 11th in Wins and sat alone at 5th in GAA in the NHL this year (minimum 20 games played). Meanwhile, Joseph Woll, selected by Toronto in the 3rd round of the 2016 draft, is no longer waiver exempt and seems to have outgrown the AHL. He played well in 7 regular season and 4 playoff games in the NHL this year and projects to be the backup goalie for the Leafs to start next season. One issue with him is the fact that he has never played more than 32 games in a single season since college. It’s tough to say what the long term upside for Woll is, but my I hope they have a solid 3rd option in case of injury once October rolls around.
The conversation, for Leafs fans, has spilled over onto other players on the Flyers roster that could help them take another step forward. The target atop the majority of lists is Travis Konecny, who just had his best season with 31 goals and 61pts in 60 games. He plays with pace and battles for pucks, which is something the Leafs are in desperate need of towards the top of their lineup. At just 26 years of age it would make a ton of sense for the Flyers to keep him through a rebuild, but crazier things have happened. He would be a terrific addition to the Leafs roster, to say the least.
Now, back to the draft:
NHL Comparable: Josh Anderson, Lawson Crouse, Nick Ritchie
Charlie Stramel is a big kid whose nickname is, appropriately, Big Rig. Standing at 6’3″ 216lbs at 18 years old, his NHL playing weight will be described by opposing defenders as somewhere between Jaysus Murphy and God Damnit. Whats more impressive is that he’s described as having an athletic build, so don’t expect a pudgy player such as Nick Ritchie or Dustin Byfuglien.
The name of the game for Stramel is speed, forechecking, physicality and, shockingly, defense. He’s very good at winning draws and is adept at covering passing lanes and breaking up plays in his own end. That’s not to say that he doesn’t have an offensive streak to his game as well. He thrives in front of the net and on the cycle and can power his way through the other teams defense. He registered 5 goals and 12pts in 33 games at the University of Wisconsin as a freshman this year, which doesn’t jump off the page at you, but when you consider the fact that your opponents are older, bigger and stronger in the NCAA, those numbers are definitely respectable.
On top of this Stramel plays with energy and pace, as he attacks the middle of the ice, putting defenders on their heels. He has a strong wrist shot and is a highly competitive player, which is, simply put, everything you want in a power forward in the NHL.
The high end projections for Stramel are that of a top 6 centre, but he likely tops out as a 2C. Meanwhile, in a worst case (but still made the NHL) scenario, he’s a 4th line centre that can punish the other team physically, win draws, help kill penalties, add energy to the lineup and maybe even answer the bell from time to time.
Either way, this feels like a “safe” pick, as nobody seems to doubt that he will at least suit up for a stint in the NHL at some point in his career. The bigger question for me is how high in the lineup he can play.