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One prospect to be very excited about for Leafs fans is the young centre out of Vancouver, Fraser Minten. He was drafted in the second round by the Leafs with the hope that he would make the most of his room to grow and develop into a better player than his draft position would indicate.
|Age as of July 1||18.99|
Now, development is years long process, so let's just review how Minten did in his D+1 and where he sits now in his development curve. In short, he improved and is looking promising as a prospect, but his team context and injury record saw two steps turn into just one. As we look at last season, we'll describe how next year is looking and what's changed in terms of his environment.
Fraser Minten completed his third season with the Kamloops Blazers, finishing fourth in team scoring with 67 points in 57 games. Kamloops was a Memorial Cup contender and went deep in the playoffs after loading up at the trade deadline with some WHL star talent. Because of the increase in talent around him, Minten was pushed down from the second line to the third line. The team got to the third round and were competitive in the Memorial Cup that they hosted, but ultimately didn't take home any silverware.
As Minten moves from his age-18 season to his age-19 season, and with the majority of the star talent above him graduating from the WHL, it's expected Minten get his shot in high minutes for the Blazers, possibly getting promoted from alternate captain to captain. He'd be the another Leafs draft pick in the CHL to be a captain on his team, following Adam Brooks, Mitch Marner, and Carter Verhaeghe. Two for three ain't bad.
In limited minutes, Minten was able to put up impressive scoring numbers, finishing in the top 20 in U19 scoring in the WHL. Taking his 1.18 points per game back in time, we find players like Seth Jarvis, Tristen Robbins, Kirby Dach, and all the way back to Jake DeBrusk.
Minten wasn't in the top-tier of scorers playing in a middle six role, but there is the possibility for him to get up into that range with the amount of minutes he's expected to get. Power play, penalty kill, first line at 5v5. He's going to be "the guy" in Kamloops next season.
I highly recommend reading Brian's summer review of Minten's season. He talks more in depth about Minten's play, circumstance, and how he's developing into a very valuable two-way centre with still a lot of runway to go. He's getting better physically, and he's going to get a chance to show off his scoring touch now, too.
To not steal too much from his analysis, I'll say he goes over Minten's improved puck-winning ability, competitiveness, and his emerging physical success over his opponents. There were sparks of offense from Minten, but he was more suppressed by (totally fair) team needs rather than nurtured.
"In recent weeks, Minten is carrying the puck more in transition, attacking the inside more regularly, and getting open in the slot with more success. The result has been a massive uptick in both shots and scoring chances. His expected goals per 60 has risen from a relatively average 0.99 to 1.85, a rate better than 95 percent of CHL forwards in a given season." - Mitch Brown at EP Rinkside
"He really took over for Kamloops while their roster was more depleted. I was expecting him to continue to look as good even as he got bumped back down the lineup when Stankoven and Bankier returned, and they loaded up at the trade deadline. But instead, the injuries and the lower playing time combined to sap that excitement." - Brian S
"The other really important area for Minten's improvement was chaining together his individual skills. He has above average skating. He has shown good (but not elite) stick handling in close, and some skill and deception with the puck. The big thing he added late last year was the give and go to facilitate chances, especially off the rush on transitions." - Brian S
To say I'm excited about Minten is an understatement, which is why my ranking of him is the highest among our voting block. I can see top-six centre upside from him, which can't be said for any other home-grown prospect in the past 20 years since Matthews and Kadri. He'll only be 19 this season, a year that I'm expecting big things from.
Here's what the voters had to say about Minten.
Brian: I’ve written a lot about Minten as well. There was a time last season in the middle of the year when his production was really taking off, including at even strength. This was before Kamloops got all their top players back from the World Juniors, and before he started dealing with injuries. He’ll be their 1C this year with some of their best young prospects who he already played with last season, and he should be their leader in every sense of the word. He’ll play on the top PP, PK, and even strength units. His production should take off too, and if the hints we got of his 5v5 production last year are realized considering his tracking data, he should see another big leap forward in his total production. As an invite to Canada’s summer program for their international tournaments, he has an outside shot to crack their World Junior roster – likely in a depth role, if at all.
dhammm: What models see: a centre with good size whose production ramped an agreeable amount in his D+1, enough that he's a real prospect but not enough that he looks like a star in waiting. What scouts see: a smart prospect with a nifty shot and strong all-around game; most of his production came on the powerplay, he struggled a bit with injury, and his overall icetime took a hit later in the season on a stacked Kamloops Blazers roster loaded up with Memorial Cup aspirations. All these things add up to keep Minten in the conversation a couple tiers above the other tier of players that have yet to play pro.
Catch-67: Minten seems like a nifty prospect, and it seems like he had a really solid season in Kamloops this past season. Also, I really really liked his play in the preseason last year. That said, I am a little worried that he seems to have been pushed to the sidelines a bit, rather than really benefiting from playing with better players, when Kamloops got their top players back from the World Juniors and beefed up for the playoffs. Either way, I think Minten’s a good player, and I think he’s got a good shot at developing into an NHLer.
Cathy: I ranked Minten above the older second rounders because I just think there’s a touch more going on with his game. But who knows where all those guys will be in 3-4 years. I consider this section of the list a group of several interchangeable players.
Now it's your turn. Tell us what you think of Fraser Minten!
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