TORONTO - Stuart Purcey’s St. Michael’s Majors didn’t win either the Robertson or Memorial Cup, but the new Maple Leafs defence prospect did get one huge benefit from playing so long into spring.
Exposure, specifically to the Toronto scouting staff.
“Dougie Hamilton (Niagara) and Ryan Murphy (Kitchener) are two great defencemen, who stole the spotlight,” Percy told Leafs TV at the NHL draft. “They played all year and got a lot of points. I was able to fly under the radar. But since their season ended, I was (getting noticed).”
That’s why Percy’s stock kept climbing in the estimation of many NHL clubs, after the Central Scouting Bureau filed its final 2011 rankings. Tabbed at No. 53 among North American skaters, he was a legit 25th when Toronto grabbed him on Friday night.
Percy scored in the Game 7 Robertson Cup loss to Owen Sound to give him 12 points in 20 playoff games. Under the tutelage of Dave Cameron (who is now moving up to the NHL as an assistant with Ottawa), the 6-foot-1, 184-pounder had become part of an effective shutdown pairing with Brett Flemming. Percy was able to build from a strong rookie season where he and overager Blake Parlett meshed well.
“(Parlett) helped me out whenever I made a mistake and taught me how to fix it,” Percy said.
“Those were two tough losses (to Owen Sound and in the Memorial Cup final at home to the Saint John Sea Dogs), but when we look back in a month, or years from now, we had a great season with a great bunch of guys. We came a couple of goals short, but this (going to the Leafs) helped the healing process. I didn’t think I would be in this position last year.”
Percy was named to the Memorial Cup all-star team, as Toronto general manager Brian Burke had a front row seat at the tournament, and rode that wave into the NHL scouting combine, where the Leafs were again keen observers.
Once his body fills out and he works on areas such as skating, he should have a chance at making the Leafs, though no one expects him to stick before the 2013 camp.
Percy is just happy that the team he watched as a kid growing up in Oakville was enthusiastic enough to make him a first-rounder.