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Future Watch – Toronto Maple Leafs: Who will step up?

With Toronto in win-now mode, prospects will be dealt. Can the kids left behind take advantage?

A- / 2nd overall

Behold, the circle of prospect life. Years of playoff misses helped the Toronto Maple Leafs draft elite talent at the NHL level and stack their farm system. Now, with Toronto matured into a Stanley Cup threat, GM Kyle Dubas must pursue win-now fixes. Acquiring Jake Muzzin from the Los Angeles Kings cost the Leafs two of their top six prospects: Carl Grundstrom and Sean Durzi. The farm depth trends downward now, though the trades benefit their lesser prospects. “Everyone thinks they’re capable of doing more, and when holes open up, there’s a chance for them to do that,” said AHL Toronto Marlies coach Sheldon Keefe.

TOR_Trend

1. Rasmus Sandin (25th overall)
D, 18, 6-0, 184 – Toronto (AHL)
29–5–7–12–10
2018 draft, 29th overall
Injuries have kept Sandin’s sample size small, but he’s shown enough – with the Marlies and in an eye-opening WJC with Sweden – to leapfrog Timothy Liljegren. Sandin doesn’t have the offensive flash of Liljegren, but Sandin is well-rounded: mobile, quick moving the puck, surprisingly physical and strong positionally. “He showed a lot of confidence for a young guy,” Keefe said. “You saw some elite skills that allowed a young player to adjust very quickly to our level.”
FW18| n/a - NHL | 2020-21

2. Timothy Liljegren (74th overall)
D, 19, 6-0, 193 – Toronto (AHL)
27–2–6–8–12
2017 draft, 17th overall
Mono slowed Liljegren in his draft year. A hip injury limited him last year. A high-ankle sprain shortened his 2018-19. He possesses the skills to become a high-end offensive defenseman, but that hasn’t happened in the AHL yet. He must cut down on turnovers and show he can handle a bigger workload after getting limited time as an AHL rookie. He has NHL speed but must learn how and when to use it, Keefe says, adding Liljegren needs to get stronger to improve his battling ability.
FW18| No. 2 - NHL | 2020-21

3. Joseph Woll
G, 20, 6-4, 205 – Boston College (HE)
10–18–3, 2.39, .917
2016 draft, 62nd overall
The progression has been steady for Woll, who got nominated for the Hobey Baker. He’s big and mature, playing a disciplined and relatively conservative style, making him the antithesis of a scrambler. That works in his favor but doesn’t suit him particularly well to any team that plays leaky defense and needs him to make improvisational saves, especially moving side to side. Woll is a junior at BC but has motivation to turn pro given how wide-open the Marlies’ crease is. He could end up starting for them by the fall.
FW18| No. 5 - NHL | 2021-22

4. Jeremy Bracco
RW, 21, 5-11, 171 – Toronto (AHL)
57–15–42–57–8
2015 draft, 61st overall
Last year was a reality check. His offensive gifts were never in doubt, but his conditioning and responsibility away from the puck were. Bracco learned that and has earned more responsibility. The stats have exploded, but any Leaf forward earning a call-up requires the flexibility to play in the bottom six. “Right now, he’s the type of player that is a power-play specialist – he’s going to make a good offensive play,” Keefe said. “We’re working to make his game well-rounded so he can play in all situations.”
FW18| No. 7 - NHL | 2020-21

5. Ian Scott
G, 20, 6-3, 183 – Prince Albert (WHL)
35–7–2, 1.90, .931
2017 draft, 110th overall
Scott wasn’t one of Toronto’s top 10 prospects last year. By the time he signed an entry-level deal with the Leafs Dec. 14, he was an incredible 23-2-1 with a 1.61 GAA and .943 SP in the WHL. Scott has cooled since his inhuman first half, but there’s plenty to like: large wingspan, sound positioning, rapid reflexes. In his draft year, he was criticized for being too spastic and aggressive, but that was a product of a bad team in front of him. It’s hardly a coincidence he has great numbers on a first-place Raiders team.
FW18| nr - NHL | 2022-23

6. Calle Rosen
D, 25, 6-1, 195 – Toronto (AHL)
52–7–37–44–36
Free agent, May 16, 2017
Speedy puck-rusher busting out after learning to think quicker on North American ice.

7. Semyon Der-Arguchintsev
C, 18, 5-11, 161 – Peterborough (OHL)
56–6–34–40–14
2018 draft, 76th overall
Dazzling puckhandler. Built like a child. Years away but could be a steal.

8. Mac Hollowell
D, 20, 5-10, 163 – Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
58–23–49–72–56
2018 draft, 118th overall
Being undersized no hindrance in today’s game. Top offensive D-man in OHL.

9. Pierre Engvall
LW, 22, 6-5, 214 – Toronto (AHL)
54–15–11–26–47
2014 draft, 188th overall
Grinding forechecker wears down defensemen. Can play on any type of line.

10. Pontus Holmberg
LW, 19, 5-10, 179 – Vaxjo (Swe.)
43–3–7–10–10
2018 draft, 156th overall
Low ceiling, but great hockey sense and simple game make NHL a realistic goal.

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