TLN’s Top Twenty Leafs Prospects – The Final List

After a month of non-stop hot prospect action, The Leafs Nation’s Top Twenty Prospects feature has come to an end.

As most of you likely expected all along, Morgan Rielly was named the Leafs’ top prospect by our panel of writers. He heads up a group of seven defencemen who made the list, along with twelve forwards and a single goaltender. Since we released our countdown as twenty seperate articles, the least we could do is release one final article with the full list.

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Read on, and if you’re interested in reading more on a particular player be sure to click his name and check out the full profile.

#1 – Morgan Rielly

"It’s really no surprise that Rielly, Toronto’s 5th overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, took top billing – in fact, he received first place votes across the board. Rielly is the type of high-octane offensive defenceman that every NHL team covets, in the mould of a Kris Letang, Erik Karlsson or Keith Yandle." Justin Fisher

#2 – Joe Colborne

"He’s the prospect with the best chance to make the Leafs, even if his potential impact on the club seems totally unknown. I still think it’s possible that he can be an effective NHLer and start to compile some points given the right opportunity, and many folks still believe he has top six potential." Ryan Fancey

#3 – Frederik Gauthier

"It’s not hard to imagine Gauthier becoming a point-per-game-plus player with Rimouski next season. In fact, it would be a disappointment if he wasn’t. Whether that offense translates into the NHL will be the difference between a very big, very useful, second line center, or a third line defensive and penalty kill specialist." Justin Fisher

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#4 – Stuart Percy

"One thing I’ve always said about Percy in the years I’ve watched him play junior, is he’s a quiet player. I don’t mean volume-wise. I mean you don’t notice him a whole lot. The Carl Gunnarsson type. He’s not very flashy, and can appreciate that in a defenceman because flashy blueliners often make a lot of mistakes. Not Percy." Steve Dangle

#5 – Matt Finn

"Finn is a calm, positional player who does a solid job of scanning the ice and makes safe passes in his own zone and is capable of setting up plays when heading up ice. Rarely did I see him lose sight of the opposition which leads him to play a more conservative game (Let’s all judge him by 5 games I watched on my laptop!)" Jon Steitzer

#6 – Jesse Blacker

"This season, I expect him to be playing on the Marlies top pairing as long as he’s healthy. The fact that competition isn’t as strong this year helps, but he also has seniority on this team over the new arrivals and has earned the spot." Jeffler

#7 – Josh Leivo

"Something that could greatly benefit Leivo this upcoming season is that he’ll have a familiar face behind the bench. Former Kitchener Rangers head coach Steve Spott is the new bench boss for the Toronto Marlies. Spott will have an idea of Leivo’s strengths and weaknesses, and more so than many of his teammates, Leivo will have an idea of what Spott expects of him." Steve Dangle

#8 – Petter Granberg

"Besides appearing in 73 games for Skelleftea’s men’s team (with whom he won an Elitserien Championship), Granberg has an U18 World Junior Championships silver medal, a U20 World Junior Championships gold medal, and a World Championship gold medal. That’s a tremendous amount of hardware for a defenceman who just turned 21." Justin Fisher

#9 – Tyler Biggs

"Biggs is ranked in our Top Ten for a myriad of reasons. I like his potential to fit into a non-scoring role. Justin Fisher likes his potential to be an effective penalty killer and a shutdown guy. In talking to Hockey Prospectus prospect guru Corey Pronman about Biggs’ improvement this past season, he specifically mentioned ‘defence’." Cam Charron

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#10 – Jerry D’Amigo

"This years Marlies roster is different. Everybody is younger – D’Amigo has gone from the new kid at Ricoh Coliseum, to one of the longer serving members of the team and, despite being just 22 years old, one of the vets in the room." Jeffler

#11 – Carter Ashton

"Ashton’s defensive awareness, willingness to drop the gloves, and extreme willingness to throw hits and get into dirty areas will get him a bottom six role in the NHL, at the very least." Jeffler

#12 – Greg McKegg

"Do I see McKegg as a sleeper star player? Probably not. Guys who are going to be impact players in the NHL usually do better than a point in every three games in the minors, even as rookies. But crazier things have happened, and I feel like he’ll at least be a good complimentary scorer." Jeffler

#13 – Garret Sparks

“My goal this year is to play as high a level as possible and compete for time. I’ve played virtually every game the last two years and to me this year is about development. Maybe this year is more about quality over quantity for me.” – from the man himself, Garret Sparks

#14 – Brad Ross

"This year we can safely rule out seeing Ross in a Leafs uniform, and I’ll go out on a limb and say next season isn’t too likely either… his NHL potential seems limited to third or fourth line roles and with Biggs, Gauthier, Ashton, and D’Amigo ahead of him that’s going to be a tough gig to for land." Jon Steitzer

#15 – Dominic Toninato

"It’s inevitable that Dominic Toninato’s progress will be closely tied to Tony Cameranesi Both were drafted by the Leafs in the 5th round, both spent a year in the USHL prior to starting their NCAA career, and both are now University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs." Justin Fisher

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#16 – Tom Nilsson

"I assume that the plans for Nilsson, Granberg, and Viktor Lööv are to all become some form of Carl Gunnarsson. Odds are one or two will be more Frogrenesque, but with late round prospects it’s essentially a numbers game." Jon Steitzer

#17 – Tony Cameranesi

"Cameranesi will be expected to play a key role for the Bulldogs over the next two to three seasons. With a noticeable lack of seniors on the roster, Cameranesi will receive plenty of responsibility and ice time – a perfect situation for a young college hockey player." Justin Fisher

#18 – Connor Brown

"Brown is a late-round “swing for the fences” type pick; a player with enough raw talent to outweigh the current flaws in his game. The Leafs most likely see him as someone with a high offensive ceiling, but requiring a lot of coaching and conditioning to get him there." Ryan Fancey

#19 – Andrew MacWilliam

"He’s big, he likes to hit, he sees time on the penalty kill, he has no business wandering into the offensive zone, he’s basically Mark Fraser with less punching (I’m assuming less punching, but it’s hard to tell with players coming out of the NCAA)." Jon Steitzer

#20 – David Broll

"A lot of people attempt to cast David as solely someone who will make the NHL as a 4th line enforcer, when the truth is he was one of our top possession players throughout this past season." Kyle Dubas, General Manager of the Sault-Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

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Check out the Honourable Mentions here.

A special thanks to all who were involved in this feature, including the readers and commenters who made it such a success.

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  • So I looked at the top 20 prospects and just wondered how the prospects are rated? Are they rated on future potential or on where they are now in their development? My reason for asking is that Gauthier in his draft year has jumped right up to #3, does that mean that he is more NHL ready than Percy, Blacker, Leivo or Biggs? or that his future potential has more upside than these?

    • Good question… We briefly explained this in the kick-off post, but haven’t mentioned it since.

      We gave our writers a pretty wide berth when making their lists… There was no set criteria, but suggested it be based on a mix of potential, chances of reaching that potential, and how close they were to reaching said potential.

      I don’t know if I’d say Gauthier is closer to NHL-ready then guys like Percy, Blacker, Leivo or Biggs. I will say however, that many of us who voted feel that Gauthier has a higher ceiling than the other players mentioned… Even if Gauthier becomes “only a third liner”, his defensive upside is very big – bigger than guys like Biggs’. On that alone, many of us felt that he’s ahead of other Leafs prospects.