After trading their first round pick to get out of Petr Mrázek’s contract with no retention, the Toronto Maple Leafs used the 38th overall pick in the 2022 NHL entry draft to select Fraser Minten from the Kamloops Blazers in the WHL.
Minten is a 6’1” forward who had 55 points in 67 games for Logan Stankoven’s team, in the WHL. Minten is listed at 185 lbs, and it has been reported he feels he needs to physically develop more.
Originally from Vancouver, Minten played in the academy/prep system before making his WHL debut in 2020-2021 in that truncated season. His record is almost entirely made up of this season. It’s clear the Leafs were interested before today:
Minten says the Leafs showed him video during their meetings. They would show a play and then the screen would go black. They’d ask him what he thought would happen next before showing the result. He felt it helped him display his hockey sense.
—David Alter (@dalter) July 8, 2022
Not going to lie, this one feels like a reach. No one really had him ranked that high, with Bob McKenzie being the closest at 47. Scott Wheeler had him 79th, Elite Prospects had him 64th, and Will Scouch didn’t have him ranked at all. The one caveat I will add to this is I felt like Matthew Knies was a reach too, and he turned out great. The early reports I’ve read about Minten just now reminds me a bit of Knies, actually. Except he maybe can play center.
So I’ll reserve judgment until I watch more of his games last year in more detail, so I can see him for myself.
From Joel Henderson, a western Canada scout, who had Minten in the range of 55 to 70th:
The more I watch Fraser play, the more I just see no real reason why he can’t play at the pace, flow, and physicality of high-end pro hockey. While his game remains quite simple, he uses that simplicity very effectively. He can handle the puck in motion with confidence and often just needs to shift a bit laterally and drag the puck to his reach. He doesn’t need a series of complicated dangles in order to continue possession while building speed through the neutral zone. He protects at his reach, builds speed with power through crossovers, and makes smart continuation plays at speed or along the boards. He is physical and often battles for that inside position and he can curl quickly to shoot off the half-wall. The snap on his wrist shot has improved and he’s getting to better space to use it as well. I think while Fraser might not have the ability to make a series of high-end dangles in succession and become a star, he does have all the tools to succeed at the next levels. I project him to be a useful and versatile forward for an NHL bottom-six.
From Scott Wheeler:
The second of three Blazers on this list, Minten impressed on a contending Kamloops team this season, playing an important role in their run to a Game 7 defeat in the conference final. He’s a heady three-zone player who makes smart, calculated choices with the puck and can flash skill through his hands and playmaking when opportunities present themselves. He’s got great spatial awareness and understands how to use the sheet and opposing coverage to his advantage both on and off the puck.
Here’s one anonymous WHL source on Minten:
“His hockey sense is through the roof. He’s a very responsible 200-foot center. I believe he’s going to play and he’s going to carve out a role. At 19, he’s going to be a very good junior player and I could see him pushing to get onto a world junior team. I think his game is just steadily growing. He’s a guy to keep an eye on.”
From the Elite Prospects draft guide:
For the better part of two seasons, Fraser Minten’s game was a collection of interesting tools, but lacked the glue to hold them together. He shooting showed, passing, handling, and physical skills, but always independently. Well, that was until the final few months of the season, where everything came together into one skilled, violent package.
Shooting and physicality are Minten’s defining skills. A powerful one-timer, a smooth curl-and-drag wrister, and twotouch wristers make him equally effective shooting in space as he is under pressure. While he lacks the off-puck timing characteristic of NHL finishers, he shifts between the net front and outer slot to maximize his odds of getting a feed.
Early in the season, Minten’s physical game was limited to thunderous hits. Towards the end, he cranked the violence dial up, while also showing a projectable board game. When the defender leans on him, he cuts back into space. He uses punch turns over either leg to find separation, doesn’t needlessly cycle the puck, and drives play to the inside when possible.
Passing growth will determine Minten’s NHL upside. “He slips pucks through defenders, sauces them over sticks, and even pre-scans to make one-touch plays off the boards or cuts back and finds a better option,” Elite Prospects Dir. of North American Scouting Mitch Brown wrote in a late-season game report.
What do you think, Leafs fans?