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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)
#31 - Dryden McKay - G (Minnesota Duluth - NCAA)
#30 - Bobby McMann - C (Newfoundland - ECHL, Toronto - AHL)
#29 - Pavel Gogolev – LW (Newfoundland - ECHL, Toronto – AHL)
#28 - Joe Miller – C (Chicago – USHL)
#27 - Veeti Miettinen – RW (St. Cloud St. – NCAA)
#26 - Brandon Lisowsky - LW (Saskatoon - WHL)
#25 - Max Ellis - RW (Notre Dame - NCAA, Toronto - AHL)
#24 - Axel Rindell – D (Karpat – Finland SM-Liiga)
#23 - Mac Hollowell - D (Toronto – AHL)
#22 - Artur Akhtyamov – G (Ak Bars Kazan – MHL/VHL/KHL)
#21 - Semyon Der-Argushintsev - C (Toronto - AHL)
#20 - Curtis Douglas - C (Toronto – AHL)
#19 - Mikhail Abramov – C (Toronto – AHL)
#18 - Dennis Hildeby - G (Farjestad - SHL)
#17 - Ty Voit – LW (Sarnia – OHL)
#16 - Filip Kral - D (Toronto - AHL)
#15 - Nick Moldenhauer - RW (Chicago - USHL)
#14 - Rodion Amirov – LW (Ufa Salavat – KHL)
#13 - Ryan Tverberg – C (Connecticut – NCAA)
#12 - Joseph Woll – G (Toronto – AHL/NHL)
#11 - Mikko Kokkonen – D (Pelicans – Finland SM-Liiga)
#10 - Fraser Minten - C (Kamloops - WHL)
#9 - William Villeneuve – D (Saint John – QMJHL)
#8 - Dmitry Ovchinnikov – LW (Sibir Novosibirsk – MHL/KHL, Toronto - AHL)
#7 - Roni Hirvonen – C (HIFK Helsinki – Finland SM-Liiga)
#6 - Alex Steeves – C (Toronto - AHL/NHL)
#5 - Nick Abruzzese - C (Harvard – NCAA/Toronto - NHL)
#4 - Pontus Holmberg – LW (Vaxjo HC – SHL /Toronto - AHL)
#3 - Topi Niemela - D (Karpat - Finnish SM-Liiga)
#2 – Nick Robertson – LW (Toronto – AHL/NHL)
The Toronto Maple Leafs once again displayed their penchant under GM Kyle Dubas for recognizing players with a high level of skill at the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver, when they selected Peterborough Petes winger Nick Robertson late in the second round.
The Leafs did not have a first-round pick after trading it to the Los Angeles Kings for defenseman Jake Muzzin and used their top pick at #53 overall to select one of the youngest players available in the 2019 draft class.
The younger brother of Dallas Stars 40-goal scorer Jason, Robertson was a junior linemate of 2018 draftee Semyon Der-Argushintsev.
Robertson is extremely skilled, an excellent passer, and is adept at creating offensive chances at one end and harassing attacking players at the other. As a 17-year-old, he scored over a point per game (27 goals, 28 assists) in 54 games and exploded last season, leading the OHL with 55 goals, making an impression with a five-point performance for Team USA at the 2020 IIHF World Junior, and capping off a great year playing four games in the Stanley Cup play-in round vs. Columbus.
The 21-year-old would normally have been relegated to playing another year in junior last season, but with the OHL shutdown, Robertson had the benefit of playing against older professionals at two levels, scoring 16 points (5 goals, 11 assists) in 21 games for the Marlies and six NHL games for the Leafs.
The concerns and questions with Robertson are his size, durability, and skating ability. Robertson has shown flashes of being a player that could be an effective scorer in the NHL, but he has appeared to be easy to knock off the puck in the past.
The 5’9”, 164 forward was injured in his first game last season against the Ottawa Senators, and this year after not making the Leafs out of training camp, suffered a broken leg in his second AHL game. After returning in February, the 21-year-old scored 16 goals in 28 games with the Marlies and played 10 games with the Leafs at the end of the season, scoring his first NHL goal.
Robertson built up his upper and lower body this summer in hopes of cracking the Toronto roster, but it is likely that he will have to wait his turn and prove his durability at the AHL level before he gets his chance to play in the top six at the NHL level.