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Hudson Malinoski is the first of Toronto's newest additions to the prospect pool. He was drafted in the 5th round in this year's draft, as an overager from a lesser known junior league.
|Age as of July 1||19.12|
It's a good indication of how relatively weak the ranking pool is this year that an overaged, really unknown late round pick is making the top 25, even if you can say he barely squeaked in. I'm guessing that, like me, most of the other voters saw him as a shiny new toy who has some hope of maybe being the next "hidden gem" that Toronto unearths in the later rounds. They do have a good recent history of at least appearing to do this with other 5th round picks like Ty Voit and Nikita Grebyonkin.
It is kind of funny to label this section as "history" given how little there is to know about Malinoski. If you want a full profile on who Malinoski is as a player and his backstory, you can read the profile I wrote after the draft:
Otherwise, here's the TL;DR. Malinoski suffered a serious injury. The Athletic (pay walled) has a full writeup of what happened and the risky surgery that his family elected to save his playing career. That injury came in his WHL draft year, which led him to going undrafted to any WHL team. He returned to AA and AAA hockey, where he continued to go mostly under the radar. He then missed more time because of the pandemic.
As a result, this past season was the first time Malinoski has played above AA or AAA hockey in his life. In his one AJHL season, he played for the undisputed best team of any of the lesser Canadian junior leagues. They've won three straight Junior A championships in the country. Malinoski was their first line center, but finished behind Aiden Fink for the team lead in points – who is a year younger and was drafted in a later round this year. Malinoski did very well in their playoff run, and for Team Canada in the World Junior A Championship tournament. He has a legitimately good shot and is a threat on the powerplay, plus he plays center, is a big-ish player at 6'1", and has some two-way potential.
Next season he'll be jumping to the NCAA. More specifically, he'll be joining a weaker team in a weak conference – with the caveat that he has a chance to start playing a bigger role for them after they had a bunch of their players move on after last season. But Malinoski will be among one of the younger players to join the team, so there's no guarantee he will immediately be a top line or even a top six guy. But I think he'll have a good chance of it.
I ranked Malinoski 18th, in the same clump as a bunch of other players at the end of my 25 players. It may as well have been 20th or 25th for me. I do think he has a chance to be more interesting than the others who I have in the same range (mostly goalies) just because he's new and still has a chance for bigger development leaps given his age and other circumstances.
Here's the breakdown of his votes:
The other voters had some thoughts on this player:
dhammm: Certainly a weird pick to assess at the moment. I don't think I had AJHL overagers on my radar to get plucked with the Leafs' limited picks, even in later rounds, and the AJHL's leading scorer and fellow Brooks Bandit Aiden Fink (another ZLW, drafted by Nashville in the 7th round) was still on the board, but having spent some time learning about Hudson Malinoski, there's a lot to like. Good size, solid game, intriguing backstory. Byron Bader's model seems to like this pick for the 6th round. Providence College has seen a couple forwards depart, so there's opportunity there for Malinoski, and I'm excited to see him lock down a roster spot as a freshman.
Zone Entry: It seems like Hudson is a prospect where his greatest shortcomings are also the areas that should benefit from more experience, consistent playing time, and just growing a bit; whereas the skills he already has are the least likely to magically appear later on. He’ll be a long-term project for sure; but the dramatic life events he’s experienced may also provide him with some added focus and perspective. Would love someday to see him on the Leafs, backchecking and stealing the puck away so I can cheer, “Secure that shit, Hudson!” (Can we swear in these blurbs? Editor’s note: fuck, yeah.)
Cathy: Let’s be honest, all we know about Malinoski is that he was just drafted by a GM we don’t have much trust in, and he is going to the NCAA instead of the WHL. I can spend more time making a narrative out of him attending the school with the rink named after Lou Lamoriello than I can telling you about his game. He was taken with a draft pick in the identical spot to Ty Voit, who has proved since to be worth more than his cost. But I only just ranked Voit (sorry, spoiler) and I didn’t rank Malinoski because I just couldn’t find a reason to override his probability of value based on draft position like I can with Voit. This is the tough part of ranking, when a player is new and taking his own route through hockey. We’re more likely to be wrong about him than we are Voit in the OHL. I guessed pessimistically.
So that's what the main voters think, what do you all in our community think? Do you still believe in his skill or has your patience worn off as well? Let us know!
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