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Leafs Top 40 Prospects - #23

September 17, 2021, 11:55 AM ET [363 Comments]
Mike Augello
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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)

The Leafs have been more open to giving developmental projects time and opportunity under GM Kyle Dubas. The club bringing in undrafted free agents from Europe, US Colleges or the CHL has resulted in players like Ilya Mikheyev, Trevor Moore and Mason Marchment becoming contributors at the AHL and NHL level.

Toronto is hoping they have found another diamond in the rough in blueliner Kristians Rubins. The 23-year-old played junior in Sweden before heading to North America to play two seasons for Medicine Hat of the Western Hockey League. The 6’5”, 220 lb. defenseman was signed in 2018 to a pro contract and split time between the Marlies and Newfoundland Growlers, where he won a Kelly Cup title in 2019.

Rubins has played internationally for Latvia at the 2017 World Juniors and World Championships in 2018 and 2021 and in the Olympic qualifiers, which likely means that he will be on the roster for his country in Beijing next February.

Rubins is a very good skater and has the size that is not in ample supply among the Leafs defensive prospects. After registering 14 points (2 goals, 12 assists) in 47 AHL games for the Marlies, the big blueliner was signed to a two-year, entry-level contract by Toronto.

The delayed start of the AHL last season forced Rubins to find a home in Europe, playing for Frederikshavn in Denmark. Upon his return to North America, his offensive numbers declined slightly with just three points (1 goal, 2 assists) in 22 games, but the big Latvian is still considered a potential bottom pairing option down the road.


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