Barrie Colts captain Connor Punnett
Photo credit: TSN

Leafs preparing to sign 6'2, 200-pound defenceman?

Published February 21, 2024 at 1:02 PM
BY RYAN SMITHERAM

It's no secret that, thanks to Kyle Dubas' activity in the trade market the last few seasons, the Leafs' prospect cupboard is fairly thin, particularly on the blueline. The Leafs have drafted just one defenseman the past three drafts (Noah Chadwick, 2023) and since 2018, have drafted 12 defensemen. Of those 12 blueliners, only two have had an NHL impact in Rasmus Sandin and Sean Durzi, both from the 2018 draft and both of whom were traded by the Leafs.

As Brad Treliving looks to solidify the blueline for the Leafs ahead of another playoff push, any move will likely cost the Leafs more draft capital and deplete their prospect pool further, which means he will have to look outside of the draft to fill in the gaps. In doing so, the Leafs have identified one player that could help them on the back end in the future in 20-year-old Connor Punnett.

The undrafted lefty has been watched closely by the Leafs scouting staff this season and as of March 1st, will be eligible to sign an entry-level contract as that is when the CHL free agent window opens.

Punnett attended the Detroit Red Wings development camp this past summer as an undrafted invitee and is having quite the season in the OHL this year. In 53 games split between the Barrie Colts and Oshawa Generals, the North Bay native has 7 goals and 42 points to go along with 98 penalty minutes. Even though Punnett is a left-shot, the left side of the Leafs blueline is aging and Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie are UFAs at the end of the season so they will need to add some additional depth on that side in addition to restocking on the right. He won't have an immediate impact on the Leafs, but he would certainly be a nice addition to the prospect pool.


POLL
February 21   |   847 answers
Leafs preparing to sign 6'2, 200-pound defenceman?

Was trading Rasmus Sandin one of Kyle Dubas' greatest mistakes?

Yes, they need him now with no depth41448.9 %
No, he was a duplicate of Rielly and Liljegren19723.3 %
Sandin is nothing special23627.9 %
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