The Toronto Maple Leafs organization has drafted and developed a number of youngsters currently playing in the NHL, but with players like Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson and Travis Dermott on their roster, the next step for the club 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 summer, we will rank the club’s top 25 prospects over the next few weeks based on their progress in either the NCAA, CHL, Europe or the American Hockey League and their potential to make the Leafs roster and make a contribution in the future.
Players are not eligible for the list if they are 25 years old or over, or if they have played more than 30 NHL games:
Top 25 list
#25 – Eemeli Rasanen - Defense, Jokerit – KHL / Toronto Marlies – AHL
#24 – Pontus Holmberg – Left Wing, Vaxjo HC – SHL
#23 – Mikhail Abramov – Center, Victoriaville – QMJHL
#22 – Nick Abruzzese - Center, Chicago Steel – USHL
#21 – Teemu Kivihalme - Defense, Karpat – SM-Liiga
#20 – Riley Stotts - Center, Calgary - WHL
#19 – Filip Kral (Defense, Spokane Chiefs – WHL)
2018 Ranking - 20
Kral was the last of the four blueliners selected by the Leafs at the 2018 Draft in Dallas. A native of the Czech Republic, the 18-year-old scored 35 points (9 goals, 26 assists) in 54 games in his first season in North America for the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs.
The 19-year-old defenseman had almost the same numbers with the Chiefs last season, scoring 36 points (10 goals, 26 assists) in 47 games, and played on the blueline for the Czechs for the second straight year at the 2019 World Junior in Vancouver.
As with the other defensemen (Rasmus Sandin and Mac Hollowell) selected by GM Kyle Dubas in his first draft, Kral is heavy on skill, skating ability and hockey IQ in the offensive zone, but the 6’1”, 171 lb. blueliner is not particularly strong in his own end and will have to need to do so to improve his pro prospects.
Unless he goes to Europe after his third WHL season, Toronto will have to make a decision to sign Kral before next June, when he could re-enter the Draft as a 20-year-old.
*******If you are interested in sponsorship or advertising your business in the Greater Toronto / Southern Ontario area on this column, please send a message for more information by clicking on the “Contact” button at the top of the page.*******