Why The Maple Leafs Should Select Draft Eligible Player Cliff Pu

When you have all of Budweiser Gardens screaming your name every time you touch the puck, you must be doing something right. Or it may be that they just love saying your last name.  Either way this is the case every time Cliff Pu of the London Knights touches the puck playing in front of his home crowd.

Going into this season I really hadn’t heard much of Cliff Pu but, after watching the London Knights a couple of times I was a big fan. Pu is an average sized player who stands at 6’1 and 187 lbs.

The thing that I noticed right away and is probably the best part of Pu’s game is his skating ability. His skating ability is one of the main reasons he is able to be dangerous in the offensive zone. It allows him to get to pucks first and also create separation between himself and the opposing players.

The second thing about Pu’s game that impressed me was his hockey IQ. I rarely saw Pu make bad plays with the puck, or hold on to it when he should have passed it. He was always looking to make the smart play and had the skill set to make it.

Pu’s skill set was another part of his game that impressed me. He has good hands, a good shot and great vision. His hands give him the ability to make plays on his own and not rely on other players to feed him the puck all of the time. His shot is solid and when he is in a good position to shoot, he would usually get a good shot off. His vision with the puck was another part of his game that caught my eye. He is very good at finding his players, and always putting the puck in place where they can control it and be dangerous.

Cliff Pu was originally drafted to the Oshawa Generals 16th overall in 2014. Half way through his rookie season he was then traded to the London Knights. Throughout his rookie season he had 4 goals and 9 points in 41 games.

In the 2015-2016 season Pu notched 12 goals and 31 points in 63 games. In my opinion those numbers aren’t overly great, but Pu was also playing on arguably the best in the CHL. Throughout this season Pu mainly played on the third line and didn’t see much power play time at all. This resulted in him not seeing a large amount of minutes.

Throughout this year’s playoffs Pu put up better numbers, having 8 goals and 13 points in 18 games while still playing limited minutes for the Knights.

Next season London will likely be losing a lot of there top forwards, which will allow Pu to play a much bigger role. I personally think that if Pu continues to progress and is given more minutes he will put up much better numbers then people expect.

When the final Central Scouting list was release a couple weeks ago I was surprised at how low Cliff was rated. They had him listed as the 75th best North American skater. Now I understand that this is just one list and all it takes it one team who really likes his game for him to be picked much earlier, but I expected him to be a late 2nd or early 3rd round pick.

If you haven’t got a chance to watch Pu play yet, then there will be a great opportunity to see how he compares to some of the best young prospects in the world. Him and the London Knights will be competing for the Memorial Cup taking place May 20th-29th. All 9 tournament games will be aired on Sportsnet.

Overall, if Cliff Pu is still available in the third round of the 2016 NHL draft, I would love to see the Maple Leafs take him with the 61st pick. I believe this because when he is given a bigger role next season I predict he is going to have a breakout year and could turn into a solid second or third line NHL player.



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