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)
#22 - Ian Scott – G (Toronto - AHL)
Scott was considered a long-range goalie prospect with some promise when the Leafs selected the lanky Calgary native in 2017, and after a great year in 2019, it was expected that he would challenge and compete with 2016 draftee Joseph Woll for playing time, but injuries and the COVID-19 pandemic have derailed the 22-year-old’s development.
Selected in the fourth round (110th overall), the 6’3”, 183 lb. netminder played 50 games for consecutive years with the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders in 2017 and 2018, and made his professional debut for the Toronto Marlies at the end of the ’18 season. Scott remained with the club through their run to the Calder Cup, participating in practices and working often with Leafs goaltending coach Steve Briere.
“(Steve is) really knowledgeable, he’s been around the league for a long time and he’s played pro hockey himself.” Scott said at last year’s Rookie Development Camp. “He’s always open to questions and it’s a pretty open door, so whenever you don’t understand something or he wants you to try something, you just gotta roll with it and he’ll never point you in the wrong direction.”
The extra work paid off for Scott, as he went 38-8-2 for the Raiders, with a microscopic 1.83 GAA and .932 save percentage, winning WHL and CHL goaltender of the year, WHL First-Team All-Star, Playoff MVP and making Team Canada as Michael DiPietro’s backup at the 2019 World Junior.
It was expected that Scott would use his success as a springboard in 2019, but a hip issue developed during training camp that required season-ending surgery in December.
With the Newfoundland Growlers opting out of the 2020-21 season, it appeared that Scott would have to battle for ice time with the Marlies with Woll and Michael Hutchinson, but a groin injury in February kept him out another two months.
In the last three seasons, Scott has only played seven professional games, five in the ECHL with Wichita and two with the Marlies. With his injuries hopefully behind him, the 22-year-old has been front and center at the Traverse City Prospect Tournament this past weekend, playing well in an overtime loss to Columbus on Thursday and a 6-3 win over the Dallas Stars on Sunday.
It is expected that after such a long layoff, the Leafs will want to get the youngster as much playing time as possible, which could mean being the primary starter for the Growlers instead of splitting time with Woll and import Erik Kallgren in Toronto.
*******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.*******