Unanticipated young star ‘forced’ his way into surprise position with Maple Leafs.

Unanticipated young star ‘forced’ his way into surprise position with Maple Leafs.

Forward, 19, joins the team after working hard and showing his talent during training camp.

Fraser Minten, a center for the Toronto Maple Leafs, woke up on Wednesday and immediately called linemate Matthew Knies.
That night, Minten would play in his first NHL game at Scotiabank Arena against the Montreal Canadiens.

It wasn’t because the 19-year-old experienced a sudden wave of anxiety. It was more out of necessity.

Because he didn’t have a key card, “he called me to (make sure I’d) let him into the rink,” Knies said.

The more details you discover about Minten, a second-round selection (No. 38), the more it becomes clear that he won’t be overwhelmed by a big moment in the 2022 NHL Draft.

“Not at all.
Asking if getting ready for his first game felt like a dream, Minten responded, “It feels real.

Expect to have difficulty falling asleep for a midday nap?

“I don’t believe so.
It will be okay, he assured.

Minten contributed to the Maple Leafs’ 6-5 shootout victory with one shot on goal and three out of five face-off wins in 11:32 of ice time.

After a few preseason games, “I felt fairly at ease with the rink, so it was good to have those under my belt, it wasn’t like a whole new deal,” Minten said on Friday.
It was cool to be outside in a situation with real significance because, in my opinion, the game’s pace was faster.

While entering the arena was one thing, Minten would have needed a lot more luck on Wednesday to earn the right to be there.

Brad Treliving, general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, said, “There was the Leafs ghost roster, the Toronto Marlies (of the American Hockey League), and others.”.
He was “other.
When we talk about leaving an impression, he started in Traverse City (at the NHL Prospects Tournament).
He did this by having good days after good days after good days. “.

Having no intention of making an NHL debut, Minten did not enter training camp with that goal. He was most likely going to play another season for Kamloops of the Western Hockey League.

I wouldn’t have thought this would be a spot I’d be in at that point, he said, noting that the roster is largely comprised of NHL veterans.
“But all it took for me to get here was the mentality of taking things day by day and working as hard as I could every day.

Minten’s ascent was welcomed, according to coach Sheldon Keefe.

According to Keefe, “it gave the camp a little something extra.”.
We did have other options, so it was a good message that those who earn a spot here get one.
Numerous players who have played for us and will continue to do so at various points were sent to the Marlies.
However, for us, the goal wasn’t simply to give the young man a chance. We thought he was in the lead.

Kamloops head coach Shaun Clouston was getting his team ready to play Spokane while Minten was getting ready for his first NHL game.
He believed Minten would be on his roster right now if it had been recently.

It’s unexpected because it doesn’t happen frequently, according to Clouston. “.
The fact that he wasn’t a top 10 [NHL draft pick] makes it surprising.
If you simply observe the steps he took from the years 16 to 17, then 17 to 18, it is less surprising.
He has really made progress.

In 2021–22, Minten had 55 points (20 goals, 35 assists) in 67 games.
The following year, he had 67 points (31 goals, 36 assists) in 57 games.

Not just his offensive prowess but also how well-rounded his game is for someone so young makes him stand out.

It’s probably the biggest thing that he plays a strong 200-foot game, according to Clouston.
Coaches will adore him because he is a very smart, perceptive, and capable player who can pick up new information quickly if necessary.

The last teenager selected outside of the first round to play for the Maple Leafs was Matt Stajan, a No. 57) in the NHL Draft in 2002, and he was 19 years old when he started the 2003–04 season with Toronto.
In 69 games, he recorded 27 points (14 goals and 13 assists).

It’s challenging to make the roster, especially if your team is strong, Treliving said.
It’s a prestigious club.
It ought to be challenging to access.
However, Minten pushed his way onto the team.
Just one day at a time is all that remains now.

Stajan had the opportunity to watch Minten play while serving as Calgary’s assistant coach for the previous two seasons in the WHL.

He is a man who possesses the traits that coaches look for, including good habits from shift to shift, according to Stajan.
“That’s definitely a factor in why young players succeed, barring Sidney Crosby or Connor McDavid, because they form those habits, it comes naturally to them, and they have the ability to perform at a high level, which is what coaches want to see.

“Minten should have that confidence because you earned your spot on that team—you didn’t just get it.
Take advantage of the roles you are given when you have them and excel in them.

“I had been a little disappointed the last few years playing in the WHL, I never got to watch, so it’s a big deal to me playing on Hockey Night in Canada,” Minten said.
“You don’t notice all the extras that make the TV production so unique when you’re playing. But it will be awesome to be a part of one now.

Throughout training camp, Minten received encouragement from Connor Bedard, a rookie forward for the Chicago Blackhawks.
At the West Van Hockey Academy, they were teammates on a line for two seasons (2018–20), and they still train together when they are both back in their respective Vancouver homes.

Messages of encouragement have been exchanged between them as they begin their NHL careers.
However, when asked who was superior when they played together, Minten responded without hesitation.

He, by a long shot, replied Minten.
With no doubt.
I hope we get to play some games against each other.

This moment might arrive soon.
On Monday, the Maple Leafs host the Blackhawks.


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