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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Carter Verhaeghe Scouting Report

The Leafs have signed 2013 third-round draft pick Carter Verhaeghe to a three-year entry-level contract. Verhaeghe will report to the Marlies and join the team for the remainder of the season on an amateur tryout contract.

Verhaeghe improved considerably this past season, exploding for 82 points in 65 games, nearly twice as much as he scored as a 17-year-old. He finished the season ranked 21st in OHL scoring, well behind the 128 points of another Leafs prospect, Connor Brown.

Over the past year Verhaeghe has turned himself into a prospect to watch, which is more than you can say about a lot of third-round picks. Being born in August, Verhaeghe was just a month shy of being eligible for the 2014 draft, which may be one of the reasons he has been described as a late bloomer.

“I’d put him in the Josh Leivo category. He was a real late bloomer," director of amateur scouting Dave Morrison told the Toronto Sun. "Carter’s development really started to take off in the second half of [2012-2013]. You could really see signs of him coming, especially in the playoffs versus Oshawa. He also had a very good (under-18) tournament."

Hockey's Future rates Verhaeghe as a 7.0 with a C probability of success, meaning he has the potential of a second-line forward, although he may not reach that potential and could drop two ratings and ultimately end up as a fourth-line forward.

He was described as one of the OHL's best playmaking centres and ranked ninth among the Leafs' best prospects (fourth among centres) by Hockey's Future, up from 17th last season.

"His vision and ability to buy himself time and space with his quick feet have aided his development and success, but like most young players, he will need to continue getting stronger before finding success at the pro level."

One common knock against Verhaeghe is his size. The average NHL forward is 6'1 and 202 pounds. Verhaeghe is 6'2 and 185 pounds, so there is definitely room to fill out physically, but that's something that should come with time.

Many of his weaknesses described in his McKeen's Draft Guide profile (provided below, courtesy of Maple Leafs Hot Stove) could become non-issues if he adds some muscle to his frame.

"skilled and creative pivot with decent size and fast hands .. still working on developing a consistent compete level .. lacks urgency at times – and can be tentative about engaging in heavy board battles .. not strong enough yet – his upper body largely un-developed .. needs the luxury of open ice to create – and exploit solid puckhandling abilities and good offensive vision .. also packs a quick shooting release – and is proficient at face-offs .. bears down and wins a majority of draws .. skating holds him back however.. propels on a wide, bow-legged stance that provides average mobility and limited first-step quickness .. must work on his agility and making stronger, tighter turns."

Although expectations should be tempered (as they should for any draft pick outside the top-10), watching Verhaeghe play for the Marlies in what could be a deep playoff run will give a nice glimpse into the type of a prospect he has become.

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