Introducing the 2015 TLN Top 20 Prospect Rankings

Welcome to the 2015 TLN Toronto Maple Leafs Top 20 Prospects rankings, our annual prospect countdown that we will carry through the next few weeks. We’ll laugh, we’ll cry… We’ll probably fight a lot. The point is, we’re going to be diving head first into the Leafs’ prospect pool and harshly judging a group of teenagers, hyping up their strengths and brutally criticizing them for their weaknesses! Yay!

The Details

The TLN staff who took part in the rankings include Jeff Veillette, Shawn Reis, Ryan Fancey, Jon Steitzer, Bobby Cappuccino, Adam Laskaris and myself.

We’ve made some changes to our rankings this year, simplifying the process by using Calder Trophy eligibility rules to define prospects. 

From NHL.com…

To be eligible for the award, a player cannot have played more than 25 games in any single preceding season nor in six or more games in each of any two preceding seasons in any major professional league. Beginning in 1990-91, to be eligible for this award a player must not have attained his twenty-sixth birthday by September 15th of the season in which he is eligible.

Because of this, 22-year old Josh Leivo is ineligible for these rankings, having played in nine NHL games last season and in seven the previous year. Obviously this is a bit of a peculiar situation, since Leivo is still young and still has a relatively decent shot at becoming an NHL player, but those are the rules. Sorry, Josh.

As for who is eligible for this year’s rankings? Well, pretty much everyone else. I know that every year we claim things like “this is a new-look prospect pool”, but it’s really startling to see just how different this year’s list looks from even our 2014 Midterm rankings. This time around, there’s a total of 10 new faces in our Top 20. That’s ridiculous.

To find out who ranks 20th on our list, you’ll have to come back tomorrow. And as for the rest of the group that didn’t make the cut, we’ll be sprinkling in depth prospect coverage throughout the series. It’s going to be wall-to-wall prospect talk.

Stay tuned. It’s going to be a fun month.

  • Harte of a Lion

    I look forward to a line with Nylander at centre with Marner on one wing and Timashov on the other. If Willie can put on 20 lbs of muscle in a year, let’s hope Mitch can do the same. Anyone who saw Nylander in Collingwood without his shirt will have no doubts he is NHL sized. With another 10 lbs, as long as it doesn’t affect his speed, this kid will be an exceptional asset.

    (Looking at Nylander’s numbers and the age he accomplished them makes him possibly a generational Swedish talent)
    After the drought the Leafs have had in recent drafts, the top end talent being acquired up front is refreshing.

    • Gary Empey

      I was wondering if the Leafs see Nylander and Marner each playing centre. These would be the playmaking centers Babcock spoke of being on each line. I would expect to see them together on the power play.

  • Harte of a Lion

    With Nylander, Kapanen, Timashof, Marner and Brown in the system, it appears that the Leafs may have at least a real solid crop from which to glean hopefully 2-3 really good NHL players. If nothing else for me this will be fun to follow.

  • Gary Empey

    Re- “The TLN staff who took part in the rankings include Jeff Veillette, Shawn Reis, Ryan Fancey, Jon Steitzer, Bobby Cappuccino, Adam Laskaris and myself.”

    What happened to Cat Silverman? She seems to be a pretty good judge of young talent.

    I am looking forward to seeing just how much the TLN staff has learned since the tear down began.

    I see Harte of a Lion and oldhockey fan are hot to trot already. They bypassed who ranks 20th and are setting up Babcocks lines for him.

  • Gary Empey

    Hey there TLN guys!

    I love these rankings each year

    But can you please do me a favour (which I’ve requested the past two years..)?

    Please, can you include at the start of each player’s article his basic details?

    Height, weight, draft year and pick, age, position. Not buried in the text. A nice little list or table right at the start. For example :

    William Nylander, C/LW
    5’11”, 180lbs(?)
    2014 draft, #8
    19 years old (?)
    (If it were Kapanen: 201? draft, #16. Acquired by trade from PIT )

    Then the article text.

    Boom, simple. Now I have the context of this player before diving into the article text.

    Because guys like verhague, leipsic, froese, I can never remember how old they are or what their original potential appeared to be (for example, it’s a good story that Connor Brown was drafted way late but is now a top prospect), and while Froese is probably one of the top prospects, his age is an important detail in knowing his potential for growth. And just how many years ago was Herzog drafted? Was he the year before or after Gauthier?

    Hopefully you see why I think it would be nice! Thanks!

  • Gary Empey

    Formatting…

    William Nylander, C/LW

    5’11”, 180lbs(?)

    2014 draft, #8

    19 years old (?)

    (If it were Kapanen: 201? draft, #16. Acquired by trade from PIT )

  • RedLightRaycroft

    I really can’t get over how brilliant our draft was this year. Marner is obviously brilliant, as he’d be a 1st overall most other years. Dermott looks promising, although likely not elite. Bracco, Timashov, Korostelev in the bloody 7th round is insane value, and everybody else looks like a wild-card but with promise in each one of them.