The Toronto Maple Leafs were ranked the top organization by the Hockey News just a few years ago with an impressive accumulation of top prospects in William Nylander, Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews, and Travis Dermott, but with all of them graduating to the NHL over the last few seasons and trading draft picks to acquire Jake Muzzin and to get rid of the contract of Patrick Marleau, the club’s prospect pool has suffered.
In THN’s most recent Future Watch issue, the Leafs were ranked 23rd in the league and had only two prospects in 2019 second-rounder Nick Robertson and 2017 top pick Timothy Liljegren in the top 100 players under the age of 21.
The 19-year-old Robertson led the Peterborough Petes in scoring with 86 points and the Ontario Hockey League with 55 goals this season was ranked 34th, just behind LA Kings prospect Tobias Bjornfot (selected with the Leafs first-round pick from the Muzzin deal) and Henrik Borgstrom of the Florida Panthers. Liljegren, 20, who won a Calder Cup in 2018 and was named an AHL All-Star this season, was ranked 64th behind Ottawa prospect Jacob Bernard-Docker and Blues forward Klim Kostin.
Toronto’s top five prospects after Robertson and Liljegren were Marlies forward Jeremy Bracco, goalie Joseph Woll, and 2019 third-rounder Mikko Kokkonen. The club’s ranking suffered because of the recall of defenseman Rasmus Sandin in mid-January after the injury to defenseman Morgan Rielly.
Sandin scored 10 points (3 goals, 7 assists) for Sweden at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championships and it is likely that the 19-year-old would have been ranked as high as 10th on the prospects list, ahead of Montreal defensive prospect Alexander Romanov, who he beat out for the top defenseman in the tournament.
*******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.*******