The Toronto Maple Leafs’ prospect pool has been drained considerably throughout their window of competition, as GM Kyle Dubas has repeatedly spent chunks of the long run to put money into the now.

But that doesn’t imply there aren’t a number of rising skills within the system enjoying abroad, in school, and on the Toronto Marlies.

Three of them can be enjoying within the upcoming world junior match and will command your consideration.

Right here’s a rundown of the Leafs’ prime 5 prospects and the way their seasons are going.

1. Nick Robertson, LW, Toronto Marlies

GP: 2 | G: 0 | A: 2 | PTS: 2

The Leafs’ prime prospect has had absolutely the worst luck.

After dominating improvement camp and turning heads in coaching camp, the 20-year-old snipe present suffered a damaged leg simply two video games into what was presupposed to be his first full professional season.

It appears like ages in the past {that a} teenage Robertson was known as up and scored a playoff purpose for the Maple Leafs within the 2020 bubble. Since then, he’s battled by means of a number of accidents, watched Staff USA win world junior gold with out him, and rooted on his Calder finalist older brother, Jason, in Dallas.

“You’re feeling for Nick,” Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe stated. “However I additionally know due to how laborious he works and the dedication that he has, that if anyone’s going to work their approach by means of that and bounce again, he is going to try this. He battled some accidents final season as effectively, and this can be no totally different.

“As unlucky it’s, this stuff occur, and you have to discover your approach by means of it.”

What stands out most to Hayley Wickenheiser, the membership’s senior director of participant improvement, is Robertson’s depth and drive “to be good and nice in each side of his life.” However there may be some concern that Robertson might have to dial again that depth one notch and let the sport come to him.

Accidents received’t rob Robertson of prime billing on our record, however you must surprise if they’re beginning to derail his dream.

Nick Robertson with the first help.

— Kevin Papetti (@KPapetti) October 16, 2021

2. Topi Niemelä, RD, Karpat

GP: 31 | G: 6 | A: 18 | PTS: 24

Topped the very best defenceman of the 2020 world juniors, the 19-year-old proper shot returns to the match in hopes of upgrading Staff Finland’s medal from bronze to gold.

Niemelä has all of the makings of a third-round gem for Toronto. As a result of his sport is constructed on a basis of stable defensive work, the five-foot-11, 165-pounder’s playmaking prowess makes him all of the extra intriguing.

Following up the eight factors in seven video games he put up within the 2020 world juniors, Niemelä has now damaged out because the highest-scoring blueliner in Liiga, the highest professional circuit in Finland, whereas taking over harder defensive assignments and skating greater than 23 minutes some nights.

With stories of the Maple Leafs being keen to commerce away a right-side defenceman like Justin Holl or Travis Dermott, we will think about Kyle Dubas salivating on the cap flexibility Niemelä’s entry-level years may convey.

Along with a Toronto prospect quarterbacking one of many worlds’ higher entries, a second Leafs prospect — centre Roni Hirvonen, a 2020 second-rounder — will captain Staff Finland on the U-20s.

That’s the opposite nation Leafs Nation ought to preserve one eye on over the Christmas holidays.

3. Rodion Amirov, LW, Salavat Yulayev Ufa

GP: 4 | G: 0 | A: 2 | PTS: 2

Not in contrast to Robertson, the excitement across the 20-year-old Amirov has quieted attributable to an (undisclosed) early-season harm.

Now in his third KHL run, the Maple Leafs’ 2020 first-rounder is lastly wholesome… and but he’s been wholesome scratched a number of instances by Ufa, throwing a wrench into his improvement.

When Amirov signed his ELC with Toronto in April, he flew to Canada and spent a while coaching within the Leafs’ follow facility. Dubas is excessive on Amirov’s pace and his decision-making with and with out the puck.

If he can’t get on observe and begin seeing common shifts in his native Russia, we do surprise if Amirov’s development is likely to be higher served by getting him in a Marlies uniform.

4. Matthew Knies, LW, College of Minnesota Golden Gophers

GP: 18 | G: 7 | A: 9 | PTS: 16

You should have seen this picture earlier than: a extremely touted Arizona-born Maple Leafs prospect proudly sporting a Staff USA sweater.

Sure, Matt Knies the Prospect Man — the 57th number of the 2021 draft — has made the American world juniors squad after lighting it up as a Massive-10 freshman and establishing a top-six presence on a robust Gophers group.

The 19-year-old Phoenix native packages smooth arms with an influence ahead body (six-foot-three, 210 kilos) and in the end may effectively function a dependable checking ahead if he can’t at some point crack the highest finish of the Leafs’ roster.

Actually, there may be effervescent pleasure over the mix of energy and finesse — plus a blistering shot — that Knies may ultimately convey to the massive membership.

5. Alex Steeves, F, Toronto Marlies

GP: 12 | G: 7 | A: 5 | PTS: 12

Signed as an NCAA free agent, the late-blooming and undrafted Steeves wowed the Maple Leafs workers at improvement camp. Then, regardless of struggling a September shoulder harm and lacking coaching camp completely, Steeves burst out of the gates in his first professional marketing campaign, placing up 12 factors in 12 video games for the Marlies.

When the harm bug snapped on the Maple Leafs ahead corps, the versatile Steeves earned a three-game callup to the present. Skating on a sheltered fourth line, he chipped in a single help on the NHL stage earlier than being returned to the farm.

Although he performed centre at Notre Dame, Steeves is being eased into professional life on the wing. The 22-year-old’s confidence and dedication are hanging.

“He’s acquired a great shot. He’s very sturdy. He’s highly effective,” Wickenheiser says. “To me, he appears to be like like a professional participant on the ice. He’s a person, the best way he’s constructed.

“There’s no considerations for his work ethic or his capacity to point out up each day and be knowledgeable on the ice. He’s very diligent and a really critical man. I like his strategy.”

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