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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)
The Toronto Maple Leafs had a dozen picks in the 2020 NHL Draft and all of the half dozen picks in the sixth and seventh round were players either bound for four years in the NCAA or a longer development track in Europe. With their third pick in the sixth round (180th overall), Toronto selected center Joe Miller.
A late 2002 birthday, Miller was the youngest draft-eligible player in the 2020 Draft and a prospect of the USHL’s Chicago Steel, who was recruited and scouted by Toronto Marlies head coach Greg Moore. A scoring star at Blake High School in Minnesota, Miller scored 59 points (25 goals, 34 assists) in 25 games in his senior season and 18 points (8 goals, 10 assists) in 40 games with the Steel in 2021. Last year, in his second full season with Chicago, the 19-year-old averaged over a point-per-game, with 68 points (23 goals, 45 assists) in 62 games.
“(Miller) is a really underdeveloped young man, with blazing speed, can score.” Former Leafs Director of Amateur Scouting John Lilley said. “Just has a lot of upside, a lot of growth his game. We just value the speed and the skill.”
Miller is on the small side (5’9”, 146 lb.), but according to the HockeyProspect.com Black Book “can overcome some of his physical attributes with his willingness to go to and navigate in the high traffic areas. He has good hands and quick stickhandling ability, and he thinks the game quickly offensively (and) can expose gaps in coverages and thread passes through tight spaces to find teammates in the offensive zone and can beat defenders one on one with his skill.”
Originally committed to the University of Minnesota, Miller is now bound for Harvard University, following in the footsteps of former Steel alum and current Leafs prospect Nick Abruzzese.