The Toronto Maple Leafs look to continue their winning ways as they take on Connor McDavid, Hart Trophy winner Leon Darisaitl and the Edmonton Oilers at Scotiabank Arena in the first of back-to-back games. The Leafs have won two in a row, while the Oilers were held to one goal in losses to Montreal.
Head coach Sheldon Keefe indicated after the morning skate on Wednesday that the Leafs stay with the same lineup of 11 forwards and seven defensemen against Edmonton, with defenseman Mikko Lehtonen starting his second game in a row and Frederik Andersen getting his four start of the season.
Mikko Koskinen (1-3-0, 3.80 GAA, .897 save percentage) will start for Edmonton.
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 – J.D. Greenway – D (Maine – NCAA)
#39 – Eemeli Rasanen – D (HPK – Finland SM-Liiga)
#38 – Jeremy McKenna – RW (Moncton – QMJHL)
#37 – Ryan O’Connell – D (Ohio State – NCAA)
#36 – Veeti Miettinen – RW (St. Cloud St. – NCAA)
#35 - Semyon Kizimov – RW (Lada Togliatti – VHL / Torpedo – KHL)
#34 - Kalle Loponen – D (Karpat – Finland SM-Liiga)
#33 - Vladislav Kara – LW (Cherepovets Severstal – KHL)
#32 - John Fusco – D (Harvard – NCAA)
#31 - Wyatt Schingoethe – C (Waterloo – USHL)
#30 - William Villeneuve – D (Saint John – QMJHL)
#29 - Joe Miller – C (Chicago – USHL)
#28 - Axel Rindell – D (Jukurit – Finland SM-Liiga)
#27 - Kristians Rubins - D (Toronto - AHL / Frederikshavn - Denmark)
#26 - Justin Brazeau - RW (Newfoundland - ECHL / Toronto - AHL)
#25 – Dmitry Ovchinnikov – F (Sibir Novosibirsk – MHL/KHL)
#24 – Artur Akhtyamov – G (Ak Bars Kazan – MHL/VHL/KHL)
#23 – Noel Hoefenmayer – D (Ottawa – OHL / Wichita ECHL)
#22 – Roni Hirvonen – C (Assat Pori – Finland SM-Liiga)
#21 – Teemu Kivihalme - D (Toronto - AHL)
#20 – Pontus Holmberg – LW (Vaxjo HC – SHL
#19 – Filip Kral - D (HC Prerov / Kometa Brno - Czech)
#18 – Ian Scott – G (Toronto - AHL)
#17 - Joseph Duszak - D (Newfoundland - ECHL / Toronto - AHL)
#16 – Mac Hollowell - D (Newfoundland – ECHL / Toronto – AHL / TuTo Turku – Finland Mestis)
#15 -Topi Niemela – D (Karpat – Finland SM-Liiga)
#14 – Semyon Der-Argushintsev (Center, Peterborough Petes – OHL / Torpedo - KHL)
#13 – Adam Brooks – C (Toronto – AHL/NHL)
#12 – Mikhail Abramov – C (Victoriaville – QMJHL)
The Toronto Maple Leafs draft philosophy under Kyle Dubas of focusing on high-level skill, skating ability and hockey IQ and with less emphasis on size and physicality showed in his first draft as GM in 2018 and continued at the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver. After selecting winger Nick Robertson in the second round, Toronto selected center Mikhail Abramov in the fourth round.
Abramov was selected 115th overall after a solid debut season with the QMJHL’s Victoriaville Tigers. The Moscow native spent his developmental years in the CSKA Moscow system before heading to North America in 2018.
The center scored 54 points (16 goals, 38 assists) in 62 games and finished third in points on the Tigers, and averaged nearly a point-per-game (1 goal, 6 assists) in 8 games during the QMJHL Playoffs. The 6’0” 185 lb. center more than doubled his goal total in 2019-20 and led Victoriaville in scoring with 76 points (35 goals, 41 assists) and was signed to an entry-level deal by Toronto in March, 2020.
Mikhail Abramov (TOR) with a beautiful assist. Afanasyev (NSH) with the goal.
The QMJHL began their season in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Leafs prospect continued to show progress, scoring 14 points in nine games before the league shutdown in December. The 19-year-old was selected by Russia for the 2021 World Juniors in Edmonton and registered two assists in four games.
Relying mostly on his skating ability and edge work to create offensive chances, Abramov is an excellent playmaker with good vision and possesses a good shot. Similar to the model that the Leafs have followed with many of their forward prospects, the club will likely allow the talented Russian to finish out the season with Victoriaville and begin his professional career in the ECHL or AHL next fall.
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