At the moment, the Kamloops Blazers are in the midst of defending home ice at the 2023 Memorial Cup as the host city and one of two WHL teams vying for the big win. For Toronto Maple Leafs’ fans and those involved with the organization, there is one player in particular they may be keeping their eyes on, however, when it comes to the Blazers’ play at the tournament — Fraser Minten.
The Maple Leafs drafted Minten in the second round, 38th overall at the 2022 NHL Draft and have since seen a player develop into an eventual NHL talent — something the Maple Leafs’ management team has recognized well into the Blazers’ run at the Memorial Cup tournament.
Maple Leafs’ Minten Making Strides
Amongst those involved with the team is assistant general manager and former Canadian Olympic star Hayley Wickenheiser who is also attending the Memorial Cup representing the Maple Leafs.
Asked about Minten and his development, Wickenheiser noted how much he’s grown since being drafted by the Maple Leafs back in 2022.
He’s a very mature kid. He’s been a consistent player through the year with Kamloops. He’s got a good frame and a good shot. He definitely projects well into an NHL player. Just working on with him improving his size, strength, speed, but the kid — he’s a student of the game. He’s very respectful. He’s easy to work with and he works really hard at his game to continue to improve. We really like him.
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In his first season since being drafted, he not only took on a leadership role with the Blazers donning an ‘A’ for the team, but he improved his offensive totals from 55 points in 67 games in 2021-22 to an impressive 31 goals and 67 points in 57 regular season games. He added another four points in 10 playoff games and has one goal in two games at the tournament thus far.
Minten finished fourth in team scoring during the regular season and tied for third on the team in goals — but it was his shot that may have caught the eye of many this season. It was a much improved quick release that landed him in the 30-goal club.
Minten’s Future Bright, But Not Immediate
The Maple Leafs signed Minten to a three-year, entry-level contract in October 2022 his draft. While his size and strength is one of the noted growth areas that Wickenheiser mentioned in her interview, he has thrown his body around more this season adding that element to his game on a more consistent basis.
His play away from the puck has also become a noted aspect of his game, where he’s developed into a strong net-front presence as he showed in the Blazers’ tournament game against the OHL’s Peterborough Petes.
He remains the lone prospect for the Maple Leafs in action in the late stages of May, but it gives the organization ample time to watch his game and look for areas for him to improve over the next year.
Wickenheiser also noted that he projects well as an NHL player at some point down the road, but hold back the excitement for now. With the change in the upper management within the organization and the prospects available to the club — including guys like Bobby McMann and Nick Robertson — Minten still projects to be at least a season or two away from cracking the NHL roster. Still, don’t sleep on him if he continues to trend the way he has this season — and keep an eye on his shot.
Blazers, Minten Back in Action At Memorial Cup
As for what the immediate future holds for Minten and the Blazers, the team is back in action on Wednesday night at the Memorial Cup tournament against their WHL foes — the Seattle Thunderbirds.
The game holds a lot of importance in the tournament as both teams are sitting at 1-1-0 in the tournament with the Blazers having a better goal differential at the moment. While he’s only got one goal in the tournament so far, Minten will surely play an important role in how the rest of the tournament goes for the Blazers.
One thing is for sure, next to the news of the Maple Leafs new general manager in Brad Treliving, all of Leafs Nation will be dialled in to the rest of Minten’s tournament.