(Photo: Christian Bonin/TSGPhoto.com)
#10 – Greg McKegg – C (Toronto, AHL)
Greg McKegg is a player I’ve liked ever since he was the one bright spot on a dismal Erie roster, and after interviewing him at a Canadian Juniors development camp a few years back I can’t help but root for. That’s probably why I’m excited to see him rebound from his tough first professional season and cement his place in the Marlies top six, frequently centering the top line.
Whether McKegg has the ability to move beyond that role remains to be seen, but with few options at that position it is likely we could see McKegg getting spot duty in the NHL next year. If McKegg is going to take the next step it would probably be better to shift him back to the wing. – Jon Steitzer
#9 – Connor Brown – RW (Erie, OHL)
Ranked 18th in our preseason Top 20 prospects list, Connor Brown made the biggest jump of the bunch, moving up nine spots to 9th. This is in large part to the fact that Brown leads the OHL, nay, the entire CHL in scoring, with a cartoonishly good 31 goals and 92 points in just 45 games. Not too shabby for a 6th round pick. Brown is on pace for an insane 139 points over a 68 game season – a number that hasn’t been topped since Patrick Kane scored 145 points in 2006-2007 (albeit in 10 less games, and as an 18 year old).
And that’s an important distinction to make – Brown is 20 years old and, not to take away from his accomplishments but, it is expected that 20 year olds score big in Junior. Having signed a three-year entry level contract with the Leafs back in November, Brown will in all likelihood make the jump to the AHL next season, and will probably begin contributing on offence immediately. The only thing that may hold Brown back from being an NHL scorer is his size – he’s not exactly a physical force at 5’11, 170lbs. – Justin Fisher
#8 – Frederik Gauthier – C (Rimouski, QMJHL)
When this website ranked Frederik Gauthier as the Leafs’ third-best prospect, it was a combination of a few things. First, we gave Gauthier the benefit of the doubt because he was picked a mere few months before. Next, he actually played pretty well in the rookie tournament and pre-season play. He’s 6’5" and 215 lbs of pure Quebecois yeti.
Since then, his production in junior has dipped, which is very concerning, especially for a first-rounder in the QMJHL. Compound that which is so-so performance at the World Juniors, Gauthier tied for the biggest drop on this list, going down five spots. That being said, he’s still Top 10 on our list at 8th. – Steve Dangle
#7 – Jerry D’Amigo – RW (Toronto, AHL)
Jerry D’Amigo’s three-spot jump in our rankings is almost surely because of how likeable and handsome he was on 24/7. That, or we all just enjoyed a taste of what an actual fourth line would look like during the American’s 19-game stint this season.
Yes, he managed just two points, he’s only once been even a half-point-per-game player in the AHL, and his upside is probably limited to a bottom-six role, but for a sixth round pick that’s still a pretty good find. In particular, he, Jay McClement and Nikolai Kulemin showed some nice chemistry together in a limited sample. Still just 22, D’Amigo really should be on the team right now, but the stubborn insistence on keeping both Frazer McLaren and Colton Orr around sees him working on his offensive game in the AHL once more. – Blake Murphy
#6 – Carter Ashton – RW (Toronto, NHL)
Carter Ashton is having a break out year, but now it’s time for him to break in and establish a role with the Leafs. Ten goals in twelve games with the Marlies was very impressive, but equally so was his improved anticipation of the play surrounding him. Gone were the days of him looking lost, and in was a player who knew exactly where to he had to be on the ice to contribute.
His production has lacked with the Leafs, but much of that is due to taking on a different role, mostly getting fourth line, defensive and aggressive minutes. An teammate’s injury may be his best bet to show the offensive abilities that have returned from his WHL days. – Jeffler