Throughout the next few days, I will be ranking the Toronto Maple Leafs prospects based on their seasons and how they faired with their respective teams. In this first installment, I will be looking at the Maple Leafs prospects currently playing in the OHL.
Toronto Maple Leafs Prospects
Nick Robertson is the most highly touted prospect in the Maple Leafs system today. At this time last year, Robertson was starting to rise on many teams draft boards. When the draft rolled around, many people thought Robertson was going to be a first-round pick. When that didn’t happen and he was still available at number 53, the Leafs jumped all over him. Fast forward about a year and the Leafs decision certainly looks like it will pay off in the future.
This past season, Robertson absolutely tore up the OHL. He erupted for 55 goals and added 31 assists for 86 points in only 46 games played. If not for a hand injury midway through the season, who knows how many more goals he would have scored. Robertson’s jump this season has been so phenomenal that people are already saying he is a steal, less than a year after he was drafted.
What really puts Robertson over the top compared to others is his ability to score from anywhere. Robertson is so good at being able to find open space and does not need a lot of time to get off his blistering shot. Robertson is also a superb playmaker. While one might only peg Robertson as a goal scorer, he has great vision and can find teammates in traffic easily.
While the Leafs love where Robertson is heading, he is still eligible to return to the OHL next season. With the Leafs having amazing forward depth, there will be no rush for Robertson to develop quickly. For now, Leafs fans can find solace in dreaming about a playmaker like Mitch Marner setting up Nick Robertson in the not so distant future.
Semyon Der-Arguchintsev, or “SDA” for short, has risen meteorically from the time he was drafted to today. Having been drafted by the Leafs in the third round, 76th overall in the 2018 NHL draft, many people wondered why the Leafs took him so early. Once again, the Leafs have proven many of the doubters wrong as Der-Arguchintsev is turning heads.
Playing with the Peterborough Petes, Der-Arguchintsev took a massive step forward in his development. In 55 games played, he scored 12 goals and added 63 assists for 75 points. Playing alongside fellow Maple Leafs prospect, Nick Robertson, the two developed chemistry throughout the entire season. It worked out perfectly with Der-Arguchintsev being the setup man and Robertson the finisher.
Maple Leafs brass have raved about Der-Arguchintsev’s game over the past few seasons, all within good reason. Der-Arguchintsev is a superb playmaker who seemingly has eyes in the back of his head. Game in and game out Der-Arguchintsev finds makes plays that seemingly no one else could pull off. Although he still needs to do some filling out, SDA should have no problem adjusting to the pro game when that time comes.
In the same situation as Robertson, Der-Arguchintsev is eligible to return to the OHL next season. The best thing that the Leafs could do is let Der-Arguchintsev continue to develop and that seems like the road that they will continue to take. Once again, Leafs fans can find solace in imagining Robertson and Der-Arguchintsev playing in the blue and white in the very near future.
One of the newer Leafs prospects in the system, Kalle Loponen quietly had a good season for the Sudbury Wolves. After having come over from Finland last year, Loponen has seemingly adjusted well to the smaller rinks of North America. In 56 games played this season, Loponen scored six goals and added 18 assists for 24 points. Although Loponen does not have a flashy game, he is still effective and could serve the Leafs well down the road.
Loponen is what most people would consider a modern defenceman. Not only does Loponen play solid defence but he can chip in on offence when needed. Loponen is great at reading the play and reacting accordingly. He does not panic with the puck on his stick and makes a solid first pass to out of the defensive zone. When called upon, Loponen is not afraid to get physical and will be found in post whistle scrums often.
Although Loponen is not signed to an entry-level contract, it would be the best-case scenario for both parties to get a contract signed. Loponen would be extremely close to the Leafs development staff and they could help him with all aspects of his game throughout the entire season. One thing that Loponen still has to do is fill out and add more muscle. Being 5-foot-11 is not a disadvantage but adding muscle will only help when he moves on to the pro ranks. Loponen is a solid prospect and Leafs fans should be excited to see what he can accomplish next season.
Maple Leafs Prospects Main Photo:
PETERBOROUGH, ON – MARCH 16: Nick Robertson #16 of the Peterborough Petes skates against the Sudbury Wolves during an OHL game at the Peterborough Memorial Centre on March 16, 2019 in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. The Wolves defeated the Petes 3-1. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)