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)
#18 – Mikko Kokkonen (Defense, Jukurit Mikkeli – SM Liiga)
#17 – Jesper Lindgren (Defense, HPK – SM Liiga / Toronto Marlies - AHL)
2018 Ranking – 16
Lindgren continues to be a long-range developmental project for the Leafs. The 22-year-old blueliner was selected in the fourth round (95th overall) of the 2015 NHL Draft. After playing three seasons with MODO in the SHL, Lindgren moved to the SM-Liiga and played two years with HPK , winning the Finnish league championship last season.
The Leafs locked up Lindgren to a three-year entry-level deal in May 2018 and has joined the Marlies after his obligations in Finland were completed. In 2019, the 6’0”, 161 lb. blueliner played in four playoff games and tallied two assists.
Although not being an offensive dynamo, the right-handed defenseman increased his point total from eight to 19 points with HPK last season. Lindgren has the skating ability, skill and hockey IQ conducive to the current NHL game, but it is still uncertain whether he can adapt and thrive in the North American game.
With the departure of Calle Rosen and Andreas Borgman and Vincent Loverde from the Marlies roster, and the possibility of Rasmus Sandin and/or Timothy Liljegren earning a spot in the NHL at training camp, Lindgren should get an opportunity at significant playing time in the AHL this season.
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