This is not your typical TOP TEN list about the Toronto Maple Leafs prospects. There is no Matthews, Marner or Nylander or anyone who is playing on the Maple Leafs at this moment. We all know those guys are good, who cares. I am interested in the other players in the system that will have to work to make this team. There is a ton of talent in the Maple Leafs system. Their strength is at the forward position with countless players looking like they will have the chance one day to make the big club. Defense they are far less deep and even less so for goaltending. Below I list MY picks for players I think have a place on the Maple leafs roster in the future. Not to say others wont, these are just my picks. This is also a different type of top 10 list as I am not numbering the players, as i feel all are close in value and all can fill a role once the older guys start to drop off.
Son of Sami Kapanen, Kasperi is a fast average size winger with slighty above average offensive talent. Drafted in the 1st round by the Penguins in the 2014 NHL entry draft, Kapanen projects to me to be a top 6 player. So far this season he has been one of the leaders on the Toronto Marlies and being named AHL player of the week. I’m not sure where he fits on the leafs roster as i don’t see him fitting into the top 6 right now, and there are others better suited for a 3rd line winger role like a Connor Brown or a even a player picked up through trade. Kapanen to me needs to be in the top 6 to be effective, he could be trade bait in the future if/when the Leafs decide to trade for a top 2 defenseman.
At 5’11 Travis Dermott could be described as a smaller defenseman. Travis uses that to his advantage, he has above average hockey sense and coupled with his speed lets him capitalize on offensive chances and get back on defense quick on missed opportunities. I project him as a top 4 2 way defenseman. So far in his first season playing with the Toronto Marlies he has 5 points in 8 games and is a +6.
Bracco is another “smaller” skilled forward in the leafs system. He has produced everywhere he has played from the US National program to the OHL. He plays both center and wing, time will tell how he makes the transition to the AHL but I project Bracco as a top 9 with a ceilng of a top 6 skilled winger. Right now Bracco is in his 2nd season with the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL where he looks like he will blow his last season totals out of the water.
A former 1st round pick, Rychel is a big bodied power forward type player. Most project him to be a top 6 player, not me. I think he is a top 9 winger destined for a 3rd line role. He has some offensive talent no doubt. Given his lack of production at the pro level and his style of play, I believe he could be a great 3rd liner. Combination of hard hitting and decent offence, If he works on the defensive side of the game he could become a great 2 way player putting up 30-40 points a year and playing some PK minutes. Another guy who could be potential trade bait.
At 6’3 over 200lbs, Andrew Nielson has the potential to be a top 4 player on the leafs in the future. Capable of making big hits(which he does) and out muscling guys down low he is very solid defensively. Nielson is a smooth skater which allows him to jump up in the rush and he is a point per game player on the Marlies early in the season. I believe he will get some icetime this season with the Leafs, he will most likely finish the season with the marlies if they go for another playoff push but I think Nielson will be part of the Maple Leafs roster at the start of next season.
Another small forward in the Maple Leafs system at 5’9. Drafted in the 3rd round by Nashville and picked up via trade, Leipsic doesn’t let his size stop him. He is a offensive “pest” great at getting under the opposing teams skin and throwing them off their game. The only downside I see is his discipline, being a pest he does take a bunch of penalties which could hinder his chances of getting full time minutes on the Leafs. Early this season he was given a more offensive role with the Marlies, he is leading the team in points with 15 points in 10 GP. I project him to be a top 9 forward for the leafs with offensive upside. His speed will help him especially if he does play a 3rd line roll killing penalties.
Adam Brooks may just end up being a steal for the Leafs organization. He was passed over in 2 NHL entry drafts even after being a point per game player. The Leafs grabbed him in the 4th round after having a DOMINANT year in the WHL scoring 120 points in 72 games. Back in the WHL as an overage player Brooks looks to be continuing his dominant play with 19 points in 9 GP and a plus 14 so far. At 5’11 Brooks is an average to smaller centerman, we will have to see when he is called up to the Marlies next season but i project him as a 2nd to 3rd line center. He is developing his 2 way game and could be a nice fit on the 2nd line in a few years time.
When he was drafted in the 3rd round by the Maple Leafs, not too many knew about him. In his 2nd year playing in the QMJHL he has a proven track record of being fearless, digging for pucks down low, and being strong on both sides of the puck. Averaging over a point per game in both seasons, Dzierkals trends to be a 3rd line winger with a ceiling of a 2nd line guy. Once again he is another junior player that we will have to see once he makes the jump to the AHL next season. I think he will do well given his work ethic and offensive upside.
At 6’1 he is a big bodied winger who doesn’t shy away from the body although he is a “sniper” type player. Drafted in the 7th round he has put up decent numbers at the OHL level and is over a point per game so far this season. Above average hockey sense meaning he finds ways to make plays whether its digging down low or finding a teammate through traffic for a goal. Paired with the Babcock system Korostelev could thrive in the future with a ceiling of a 2nd line winger.
The lone goalie on the list, Bibeau is a big goalie at 6’3 and covers a lot of the net. Drafted in the 6th round in the 2013 NHL draft by the Maple Leafs, Bibeau has been a pleasant surprise. Since joining the Marlies, Bibeau has at least a 2.70 GAA and over a .900 SV%. Not necessarily amazing stats but they are still pretty good and he is off to a hot start with the Marlies this season. With Frederik Anderson at the helm i don’t see Bibeau overtaking him. I see him as a very good backup for a long time and getting a decent amount of games played per season. I don’t see him staying in the AHL as Sparks looks like he will be the goalie down there once Bibeau is called up. He could be trade bait if the Leafs draft a high end goalie prospect in the draft as they may have to shuffle the goalie situation around a bit.
These are some guys that i think also have a good shot at cracking the leafs roster.
Overall the Toronto Maple Leafs organization is in a great position. It’s exciting to me to see my list of guys I think will make it compared to your list of guys which may be completely different. It’s an awesome problem to have!!
Let me know what you think of my list and who your favorite Leaf prospects are! Coment below or tweet me @TMLHockeytlk