Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Stuart Percy Ready for Next Step
By Tony Ambrogio (@SNTonyAmbrogio)
Stuart Percy knows what he wants to do next.
“Hopefully crack the (Toronto) Marlies lineup,” said the 2011 Toronto Maple Leafs 1st round pick. “I want to continue to develop my game (in the American Hockey League) and try to become a regular in that lineup.”
Percy was captain of the Ontario Hockey League Mississauga Steelheads last season and played in all 68 games and had 13 goals and 32 assists on a young team that struggled to score goals.
It was a good year for Percy, who struggled the previous season with a variety of knee and head injuries.
In a game against Kitchener on December 11, 2011, Percy got hit by a pair of Rangers. He landed awkwardly against the boards and missed time with a concussion.
It was the second concussion he suffered in a short time. The other occurred in September of 2011 at the Leafs prospect camp. He suffered a knee injury a month later.
In 2011-2012 in Mississauga, Percy played just 34 games (5 goals, 20 assists).
Having played in every game last season was something the Leafs wanted to see and he doesn’t think the concussions have hurt his development.
“It helped my mentally and physically,” said the 20 year-old Percy. “It made me pay attention more off- ice and getting warmed up and ready to play and aware and alert when I’m out there.”
“You also realize in a split second you can get hurt. You pay more attention when you are on the ice.”
Percy is considered by Leafs management an “intelligent player” who is a solid puck over and has an offensive flair to his game. He needs to get bigger and more physical.
Percy also realizes the Leafs have a number of high-end defense prospects in the system, led by 2012 first round pick Morgan Rielly.
“I think anywhere you go there’s going to be tonnes of defenceman and guys fighting for spots, so there’s really nothing negative about that,” said the 6-foot-1, 193 pound Percy.
“It’s good to have competition and that just means everyone will be paying well when they get to the Leafs. It’s a good healthy competition and guys are always pushing each other and all the guys are great. We all get along and that makes it easier as well.”
Percy played 4 games for the Marlies in the AHL playoffs a few months ago, and scored a goal and had 2 assists. He hopes to be a regular with the Marlies this season.