Leafs Top-40 Prospect List - #32
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The Toronto Maple Leafs organization has drafted and developed a number of youngsters currently playing in the NHL (Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, Pierre Engvall, and Justin Holl), but the club under GM Kyle Dubas has 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 upcoming 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 - Vladislav Kara – LW (Yugra - VHL)
#39 – Kalle Loponen – D (Koo Koo Kouvola/JyP HT – Finland SM-Liiga)
#38 - Jeremy McKenna – RW (Wichita – ECHL, Toronto – AHL)
#37 - John Fusco – D (Harvard – NCAA)
#36 Noel Hoefenmayer – D (Newfoundland – ECHL, Toronto – AHL)
#35 Ryan Chyzowski - LW (Newfoundland - ECHL, Toronto - AHL)
#34 Braeden Kressler - C (Flint - OHL)
#33 Nikita Grebyonkin - RW (Stalnye Lisy - MHL, Magnitogorsk - KHL)
#32 - Vyacheslav Peksa - G (Ibris Kazan - MHL)
The Maple Leafs followed their traditional route of selecting European players in the later rounds because of the longer development window. The Leafs had a trio of selections in the 2021 Draft and with their sixth-round pick, they selected goalie Vyacheslav Peksa.
The 19-year-old Russian is part of the Ak-Bars Kazan developmental system, the same organization as Toronto 2020 fourth-rounder Artur Akhtyamov. While Akhtyamov was getting most of the workload with Ak-Bars VHL club (their second-level pro league), Peksa started 56 times for junior-level Irbis, posting an impressive 30-17-8 record, 1.79 GAA and .936 save percentage.
The 6’2”, 163 lb. native of Magnitogorsk is one of a number of netminder prospects that Toronto is stockpiling in hopes that one will become the first internal candidate to be a full-time starter since James Reimer over a decade ago. Peksa has not traveled to North America to take part in the two Leafs Development camps since being selected and will keep an eye on his progress with Ak-Bars in hopes that he could become the next Ilya Sorokin or Igor Shesterkin in three or four years.