Making A Case For Logan Stanley
Heading into Sunday afternoon’s tilt against the New York Rangers, the Pittsburgh Penguins are currently holding on to the final wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference Standings by just two points.
For fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Penguins success in earning a playoff spot is of great importance and interest as, if the Pittsburgh does secure a playoff spot, the Maple Leafs will get Pittsburgh’s first round draft choice, which could end up being a top-20 pick.
Looking over many draft lotteries, names like Brett Howden, Dilon Dube, Logan Brown, Kiefer Bellows, Riley Tufte and Dante Fabbro often appear around the 20th spot in the mid-season Draft Rankings.
Another name that appears often is 6’7”, 220 pounds defenseman, Logan Stanley.
Currently playing in the OHL with the Windsor Spitfires, Stanley has registered five goals and 16 points through 62 games played.
Known as more of a stay-at-home defenseman, Stanley has made decent strides in improving his offense this season, focusing on a better first pass and a harder/more accurate shot from the point. He can hit, plays well positionally, but could improve his skating and overall foot speed.
Like many big defenseman before him, when you are 6’7” and 220 pounds, some of your opponents are going to come looking for you. To his credit, Stanley has attributed himself well, rarely backing down from physical play and handling himself well when he is called upon to fight.
While Scouts are mixed on his upside, should Stanley’s skating and coordination improve, he could be looked upon as a potential second pairing defenseman at the NHL level that can play upwards of 20-25 minutes a night, clear the front of the net, play a defensively sound game and be a physical force along the boards.
The Maple Leafs currently employ a slew of young/developing defensemen in their system, including but not limited to the likes of, Travis Dermott (OHL), Scott Harrington (AHL), Jake Gardiner (NHL), Connor Carrick (NHL), Frank Corrado (NHL), Viktor Loov (NHL), Rinat Valiev (AHL/NHL) and Martin Marincin (NHL). All of these kids have various degrees of upside, but none of them have the same skill set as Stanley, none of them have his unique size.
Stanley will never be a big offensive threat, but he makes a good first pass, knows his limits and he has incredible reach, which helps him break up plays. Stanley could be a valuable addition to an NHL teams’ penalty kill, where his size, reach and defensive abilities could shine.
For a team like the Maple Leafs, it has been a long time since they have employed a defensive stud with anywhere near the size Stanley would bring to the table.
When thinking about comparable NHL players, Hal Gill comes to mind. While Gil is hardly regarded as an NHL legend, he did play over 1100 NHL games, culminating in a Stanley Cup win with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009.
Like most youngsters, Stanley’s growth spurt over the past 2-3 seasons has hurt his mobility and overall coordination. Once he adds a few pounds to his frame, he will be a man-child out there on the ice, perhaps hitting the 230-240 pound range.
Add in a little snarl and a year or two learning the position at the AHL level and Stanley looks to be the type of prospect that will be a very steady player at the NHL level in the not so distant future.
To me, Stanley’s upside will go as high as his skating abilities and foot speed will allow him to go. Today’s NHL is all about speed and finesse, if your defense cannot skate, they will quickly take on the role of a pylon for speedy forwards that devour slow/plodding defensemen.
Certainly, the Maple Leafs could do a lot worse than landing Stanley with their second first round draft choice. Don’t get me wrong, Stanley is not going to evolve into Zdeno Chara but he could be a steady force on your blueline for the next decade.
What do you think? Should the Maple Leafs invest in Stanley, or keep adding forwards to their prospect pool?