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Leafs Prospect Update – 2020

February 7, 2023, 7:25 PM ET [90 Comments]
Mike Augello
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Throughout the season, we will check in on the Toronto Maple Leafs prospects to see how they are progressing. The 2020 Draft included a dozen picks and a great deal of promise at the outset, but the unfortunate circumstances of top pick Rodion Amirov has put one of the organization’s top prospects in a situation where his hockey career is secondary to him being able to live a healthy life.

Here is how the 12 players selected in the 2020 Draft are doing:

Rodion Amirov – LW – Ufa Salavat(KHL)

After some optimism that treatment for his brain tumor would allow the 21-year-old to resume playing, in late November reports indicated that Amirov would be going through another round of treatment and that his return is in question. There has been no update since before the New Year.

Roni Hirvonen – C - 2nd round – 59th overall - Assat (SM-liiga)

After leading Finland as team captain to a silver medal and scoring seven points (3 goals, 4 assists) at the World Junior in August, the 20-year-old center started slow in his fourth and likely final year in the SM-Liiga, but Hirvonen has picked it up in the second half and is tied for the lead in goals for HIFK Helsinki with 13. Hirvonen signed an ELC by the Leafs last May and it is expected that he will join the Marlies after his season in Europe is complete.

Topi Niemela – D - 3rd round – 64th overall – Karpat(SM-liiga)

After another excellent performance and nearly scoring the tournament-winning goal for Finland, Niemela returned to Karpat for his fourth SM-Liiga season. The 20-year-old’s production is way down from the career-high 32 points last season, with 13 points (6 goals, 7 assists) in 45 games, but according to sources this downturn is partly a result of power play duties being handed to veteran former NHLer David Rundblad.

Like Hirvonen, it is possible that Niemela will join the AHL Marlies for the Calder Cup Playoffs.

Artur Akhtyamov – G - 4th round – 106th overall – Kazan Jr. (Russia)

The 21-year-old goalie is putting up great numbers in the second-level VHL (20-11-4, 1.73 GAA, .944 save %) after being loaned by Kazan to Neftyanik Almetievsk this season to allow Leafs prospect Vlacheslav Peksa to get playing time with their VHL affiliate.

William Villeneuve – D - 4th round – 122nd overall – Saint John(QMJHL)

After winning a Memorial Cup and an excellent season with Saint John, Villeneuve is going through the normal growing pains of a 20-year-old rookie AHL blueliner, with 13 points (2 goal, 11 assists) in 33 games with the Marlies. The Leafs organization has high hopes that the righty defenseman on track to make the NHL in the next few years.

Dmitri Ovchinnikov – F – 5th round – 137th overall – Novosibirsk (Russia)

Ovchinnikov scored a pair of goals in a brief AHL stint last season, but was returned on loan to Novosibirsk to get more playing time. In 60 KHL games, the 20-year-old has 12 points (5 goals, 7 assists)

Veeti Miettinen – RW – 6th round – 168th overall – St. Cloud St. (NCAA)

Miettinen had a great freshman campaign followed by a disappointing sophomore year at St. Cloud State but seems to be bouncing back as a junior, averaging over a point-per-game (7 goals, 15 assists) in 22 games.

Joe Miller – C – 6th round – 180th overall – Blake (Minn H.S.)

Miller is following the path of Marlie Nick Abruzzese, going from the Chicago Steel of the USHL to Harvard University. The 20-year-old has 19 points (11 goals, 8 assists) in 23 games with the Crimson.

John Fusco – D – 7th round – 189th overall – Harvard (NCAA)

Fusco struggled to get playing time as a freshman at Harvard and transferred to another Ivy League school Dartmouth for more opportunities this season. In 22 games, the 21-year-old sophomore has 11 points (3 goals, 8 assists).

Wyatt Schingoethe – F - 7th round – 195th overall – Waterloo(USHL)

Schingoethe is a good two-way player and was committed to Denver, but opted to play for Western Michigan. In seven games, he has two points (1 goal, 1 assist) after going pointless in 20 games as a freshman last season.

Ryan Tverberg – C – 7th round – 213th overall – Toronto Jr. Canadiens(OJHL)

Tverberg has been an overwhelming success based on where he was drafted. Originally committed to Harvard, the 20-year-old shifted to the University of Connecticut. Last season, the Richmond Hill, ON native nearly made Team Canada’s WJC squad and had 32 points (14 goals, 18 assists) for the Huskies. As a junior, he is leading the Hockey East club in goals (10) and points (18).


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