The Toronto Maple Leafs organization has drafted and developed a number of youngsters currently playing in the NHL like Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, Pierre Engvall, Travis Dermott and Justin Holl, but the next step for the club under GM Kyle Dubas is to keep replenishing the prospect pool to provide the Leafs with youngsters who can step up and replace veterans who retire, depart via free agency or are traded.
As we did last year, we will rank the club’s top prospects over the next few weeks based on their progress in either the NCAA, CHL, Europe, ECHL or AHL and their potential to make the Leafs roster and make a contribution in the future.
Players are eligible for the list if they have not played more than 40 NHL games:
#40 - Jeremy McKenna – RW (Wichita – ECHL, Toronto – AHL)
#39 – Ryan Tverberg – C (Connecticut – NCAA)
#38 – Ryan O’Connell – D (Ohio State – NCAA)
#37 - Semyon Kizimov – RW (Lada Togliatti – VHL / Torpedo – KHL)
#36 - Wyatt Schingoethe – C (Waterloo – USHL)
#35 - Kalle Loponen – D (Karpat – Finland SM-Liiga)
#34 - Vladislav Kara – LW (Cherepovets Severstal/Moscow Spartak – KHL)
#33 - Kirill Semyonov – C (Avangard Omsk – KHL)
#32 - William Villeneuve – D (Saint John – QMJHL)
#31 - Ty Voit – LW (Sarnia – OHL)
#30 – Joe Miller – C(Chicago – USHL
#29 - Brennan Menell – D (Minsk Dynamo – KHL)
#28 - John Fusco – D (Harvard – NCAA)
#27 - Axel Rindell – D (Jukurit – Finland SM-Liiga)
#26 - Noel Hoefenmayer – D (Toronto - AHL)
#25 - Alex Steeves – C (Notre Dame – NCAA)
#24 - Teemu Kivihalme - D (Toronto - AHL)
#23 - Kristians Rubins - D (Toronto - AHL / Frederikshavn - Denmark)
#22 - Ian Scott – G (Toronto - AHL)
#21 – Veeti Miettinen – RW (St. Cloud St. – NCAA)
#20 – Artur Akhtyamov – G (Ak Bars Kazan – MHL/VHL/KHL)
#19 – Filip Kral - D (Kometa Brno – Czech, Toronto - AHL)
#18 - Joseph Duszak - D (Toronto - AHL)
#17 – Mac Hollowell - D (Toronto – AHL / TuTo Turku – Finland Mestis)
#16 – Semyon Der-Argushintsev - C (Torpedo – KHL, Toronto - AHL)
#15 – Pavel Gogolev – LW (Vasby IK – Swe-1, Toronto – AHL)
#14 - Pontus Holmberg – LW (Vaxjo HC – SHL)
#13 – Mikko Kokkonen – D (Jukurit Mikkeli – Finland SM-Liiga, Toronto - AHL)
#12 – Joseph Woll – G (Toronto – AHL)
#11 - Dmitry Ovchinnikov – F (Sibir Novosibirsk – MHL/KHL)
#10 - Mikhail Abramov – C (Victoriaville – QMJHL)
#9 – Adam Brooks – C (Toronto – AHL/NHL) (claimed by Montreal)
#8 - Roni Hirvonen – C (Assat Pori – Finland SM-Liiga)
Kyle Dubas has in his tenure with the Maple Leafs been strategic in moving down at certain times in the draft to get extra picks. In 2018, he traded down four spots in the first round with St. Louis to get an extra third round pick and selected Rasmus Sandin 29th overall and Semyon Der-Argushintsev in the third.
In 2020, Dubas once again traded down, moving his second round pick (44th overall) to Ottawa for a late second and to recoup a third round pick that he traded in the Nazem Kadri deal. At #59, Toronto selected Finnish center Roni Hirvonen.
The 19-year-old played 52 games in the SM-Liiga for Assat Pori entering the draft and is known for his skill and good hockey IQ, but the question is whether he can overcome his small stature (5’9”, 164 lbs) and round out the other aspects of his game to eventually be a successful pro player.
“(Hirvonen is) a really smart cerebral player, who can improve his outright speed, but he has good edges. Has good offensive instincts and a player that plays on the Finnish national team. We've seen a lot with them.” Former Leafs Director of Amateur Scouting John Lilley said last October. “He's got good offensive upside and he's a competitive kid. I know he's not a bigger kid, but he's certainly competitive and hard on pucks.”
Last season, Hirvonen was selected for Team Finland’s squad for the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championships in Edmonton and scored six points (2 goals, 4 assists) in seven games, as well as setting a career-high of 21 points with Assat in the SM-Liiga.
“Hirvonen is a very skilled playmaker who makes his money running a power play from the right half-wall (though he played a lot on the bumper spot last season, which is wasting his talents). He’s a creative handler who can fool defenders while attacking off the rush, utilizing a rather long stick for his size.” Lassi Alanen of Elite Prospects said. (He) showed these skills more at the international level and in the junior ranks, and I’ll fully expect that he’s going to be able to use them more in Liiga in the upcoming seasons as he gains strength and experience.”
This season, Hirvonen has switched to HIFK in the Finnish league and with a January birth date, is a shoo in along with Leafs prospect Topi Niemela to make the 2022 World Junior squad.
The Leafs hope to break their four game losing skid against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on Wednesday. The Hawks organization is reeling with an 0-5-1 record, having not led at any point through six games, with stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane in COVID protocol and after the results of an investigation into sexual misconduct were released on Tuesday and the resignation of Team President Stan Bowman.
Toronto is expected to have Jack Campbell starting his third straight game, and is not expected to make any lineup changes. One alteration to the Leafs power play is the move of William Nylander to the middle “bumper” position and Mitch Marner to his more traditional spot on the half wall.
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