The Toronto Maple Leafs have a good assortment young defensive talent in their system, lets check in and see how they are doing so far this season.


Travis Dermott:

So far in his 1st season with the Toronto Marlies Dermott has played decent, with 8 games played and 5 assists to show for it. He is also a +6 on the season so far which is promising. I foresee Dermott on the Leafs at the EARLIEST next season depending on the Leafs situation but most likely the year after. Lets see if he can keep progressing and creating chemistry on the Marlies and get experience under his belt.

Andrew Nielson:

Nielson is a BEAST, I am really liking him this season with the Marlies. So far in 12 games played, Nielson has 3 goals and 6 assists for 9 points. At 6’3 220lbs I hope Nielson turns into a 3/4 defenseman and maybe even play with Rielly. I want to see how he does half way through the season but I really hope he gets called up to the Leafs sooner rather than later.

Rinat Valiev:

Another guy who could make the jump to the NHL soon, in 11 GP he has 6 assists and is a +3. The knock on him so far is that he has 58 PIMs in 11 games. I am not a huge fan of that especially for a defenseman, the team needs you on the ice and the more penalties you take the more time you spend on the PK and tiring out your fellow players. I hope he gets that under control, he could be a guy that gets called up for a look on the Leafs this season as well. I see him as a 5/6 guy in the future.

Nikita Zaitsev:

I was hesitant to put him in this list but I want to keep him under watch for his rookie season. In 15 GP he has 7 points and is a bright spot on the back end. Getting similar minutes to Morgan Rielly, Zaitsev has shown that those years in the KHL have helped him out by giving him poise with the puck at both ends of the ice. I see him long term as a 3/4 defenseman and depending how he progresses a #2 guy.


All 3 of these guys were drafted in the 3rd, 4th and 6th round respectively. All are at least 6’4 and over 200 lbs. They will be hard to judge just on points as they project to be a more stay at home defenseman and could be 3-4 years away from making the Leafs. The one I am most interested in is Nicolas Mattinen as he could end up being a Mark Hunter sleeper pick deep into the draft and playing with the London Knights could really work on his game. Although he hasn’t scored yet he possesses a booming shot from the blue line, and given the right direction and grooming could be a nice addition to the Leafs in the future.

James Greenway

8 GP  1G 3A 4 Points

Keaton Middleton

14 GP 1G 4A 5Points

Nicolas Mattinen

16GP 0G 1A 1Point

Let me know what you think of these prospects! I listen the ones I am most interested in but if you have on I should write about comment below or on Facebook or tweet me @TMLHockeyTlk