What you need to know about Maple Leafs draft pick Fraser Minten

MONTREAL—Fraser Minten is not your typical hockey player.

For one thing, he can play Mozart as well as he can play the puck. Minten is a classically trained pianist who took up hockey a bit later than most other kids, but nonetheless impressed the Maple Leafs enough to take him 38th, early in the second round, in the NHL draft.

“It was unbelievable,” Minten, a Vancouver native, said of hearing his name called. “The Leafs especially, that’s one of the best organizations in the NHL and the most fun to watch. That’s amazing. And I’m super-excited about this opportunity.”

He gave up the classical training — playing recitals made him more nervous than playing hockey in full stadiums — but still tickles the keys to relax, sometimes for teammates.

“Piano is such an individual thing,” Minten said. “Performing in front of a ton of people on an instrument, if you mess up, everybody can hear it. On the ice, you’ve got five guys behind you to make up for a mistake.”

Not that mistakes are his thing. He’s a skilled playmaking forward who can score, with 20 goals last year for the Kamloops Blazers.

“He’s a very intelligent young man,” Leafs GM Kyle Dubas said. “There’s a lot of intriguing things about Minten. Number one would be he’s played a pivotal role at a young age on a very good team in the Western league, and they’re going to be there hosting the Memorial Cup next year. And he plays in all situations.

“He hasn’t played at a high level of hockey for that long. And so he doesn’t come from a family that’s deeply entrenched in hockey or has a huge hockey background. And he’s sort of carved his own path that way in Vancouver and then on to Kamloops. So we think there’s a lot of upside there.”

Dubas traded out of the first round on Thursday — part of the price of sending goaltender Petr Mrázek to Chicago — but he was happy Minten was available with the second-round pick the Leafs got in return.

“We were thrilled he was still there when we picked at 38,” Dubas said. “That couldn’t have worked out better for us.”

Minten, a left-hand shot listed at six-foot-one and 185 pounds, said he understands it will take some time before he makes the NHL.

“I think getting a lot stronger for me is a big part of my game,” he said. “I think I can be much more effective physically if I get stronger and be a bit more physical and protect the puck better. I think my skating as well will get a lot quicker. I think I’ve got a pretty good stride and good power, but some quickness and agility would really benefit me.”

The Leafs went into the draft with three picks and came out of it with five, all on the second day. They traded one of their third-round picks for two later picks.

Nicholas Moldenhauer, 95th

Moldenhauer, from Mississauga, is expected to return the USHL’s Chicago Steel before heading to the NCAA. He had 18 goals and 43 points in 41 games with the Steel last season and represented Canada in May at the world under-18s. At five-foot-11, he’s deemed to be a fairly crafty playmaker. “Highly intelligent, highly competitive, loves playing at the net,” said Wes Clark, the Leafs’ director of amateur scouting. “He can score and he can make plays.”

Dennis Hildeby, 122nd

The 20-year-old Swedish goaltender, who played for the Färjestad juniors, has been passed over in previous drafts, but he’s six-foot-six, just the frame NHL teams are looking for in goalies. He posted a .931 save percentage last year. “(Scout Jon Elkin) raved about obviously his size and his mobility and the potential,” Clark said. “I know he’s a little older but he’ll be in a good place there in Färjestad next year, in a tandem role. We’ll see what happens after that.”

Nikita Grebenkin, 135th

The six-foot-two right winger had 17 goals and 47 assists in 58 games with the Magnitogorsk juniors in Russia, and 13 points in nine playoff games. He has represented Russia at every age group. “It could be a bit of a longer path for him,” Dubas said. “But we really like what he brings competitively and as a player.”

Brandon Lisowsky, 218th

The five-foot-nine left winger had 33 goals in 66 games for the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades. He was rated as high as 53rd (by McKeen’s Hockey). “Obviously he can score, which is a great attribute to have,” Dubas said. “And he’s competitive guy and we hope he continues to develop in Saskatoon, continues to improve his skating ability and hope that it’s just one of these seventh-round picks that everyone looks back on.”

JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Conversations are opinions of our readers and are subject to the Code of Conduct. The Star does not endorse these opinions.

Source link