An Interview with Toronto Maple Leafs Prospect Stuart Percy
By Tony Ambrogio (@SNTonyAmbrogio)
Just like Toronto Maple Leafs fans everywhere, Stuart Percy watched last month’s NHL Draft eager to see who the Leafs would take.
So when Toronto selected a pair of highly skilled defenceman in Morgan Rielly and Matt Finn in the first two rounds, Percy would have had every reason to have been bothered. After all, Percy was a Leafs 1st round pick last year.
But the 19 year-old insists he has no trouble it.
“I’m not too worried about it,” said Percy, who was captain of his Ontario Hockey League team in Mississauga, Ontario last year and is expected to be the leader on the team again this season.
“Teams are going to draft or sign a handful, if not 10 more defenceman, before I get to the system. We got a couple of great young defenceman. It’s great to have all that skill on the back end.”
“You just kind of expect it,” added the Oakville, Ontario native. “You just have to keep an open mind and enjoy the competition.”
Percy is a smooth skating highly skilled blueliner who struggled with injuries in his third Ontario Hockey League season.
A knee injury and a concussion limited him to just 34 games in which he scored 5 goals and had 20 assists. But he got healthy towards the end of his junior season and was called up to the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies where he played a regular season game and 3 more in the playoffs.
“I was hesitant in putting him in,” said Marlies coach Dallas Eakins. “They had been kind of pushing me to give him a try. He surprised me with his play.”
“Guys like Korbinian Holzer (expected to make the Leafs this season) and Ryan Hamilton (Marlies captain) really showed me what it takes to be a pro. Hopefully I can bring that back to Mississauga.”
“It was a great experience and I really know more now how I need to work both in season and off season.”
Percy knows the odds of cracking the Leafs lineup this fall will be a difficult one so he is focusing on the OHL and looking at being a key member of Canada’s defence corps at the world junior hockey championship.
Of course he will have his eye on the Leafs – hoping sooner rather than later he gets the call to the NHL club on a permanent basis.
For now it’s getting bigger, stronger and faster for what will likely be his final season in junior.
“The season ended June 10, I took a week off and then went back to the gym. You have to take advantage of every moment in the gym.”