Toronto Maple Leafs fans have at times be known for getting a little too hyped up on their own prospects (Hello Jeremy Williams!), so it’s always nice to see some validation. Earlier today, Hockey’s Future released their final instalment of their annual Top 50 NHL prospects rankings, and two Leafs prospects found themselves in the Top 10.
It really shouldn’t come as a surprise as to who was named – William Nylander ranked eighth on the list while Mitch Marner finished one spot ahead of him in seventh.
They’re certainly deserving of their ranking, though admittedly I’m a little surprised one or both of them didn’t rank a touch higher. Edmonton’s Connor McDavid and Buffalo’s Jack Eichel understandably stood at the top of the list, and there’s a fair argument to be made that Calgary’s Sam Bennet deserves his third place ranking and Buffalo’s Sam Reinhart deserves his fourth. Moreso, it’s Detroit’s Dylan Larkin in fifth and Winnipeg’s Nikolai Ehlers in sixth ahead of Nylander and Marner that makes me pause. It’s not how I’d rank the NHL’s top prospects, but I suppose that’s the beauty of everyone having a different opinion.
Marner got off to a bit of a slow start when he was returned to London earlier this year (slow as in four points in four games – I know, I know), but he’s since heated up in a big way. In just 11 games, Marner has posted seven goals and 17 points and is quickly moving up the OHL leaderboards with regular multi-point efforts.
Nylander is finding similar success with the AHL Marlies, with eight points in eight games so far. At 19 years old, Nylander is playing against older competition and still finding ways to dominate. Our own Jeff Veillette thinks that if the Leafs can resist calling up their 2014 first round pick this season, Nylander could become the AHL’s first 100-point teenager.
No other Leafs prospects were named in Hockey’s Future’s Top 50 rankings, which isn’t a huge shock. I suppose you could have made an argument for the inclusion of a Kasperi Kapanen, Connor Brown or Andreas Johnson, but I’m also sure some of you would be willing to trade one of those three straight-up for HF’s 50th ranked prospect, Tampa Bay’s Anthony DeAngelo. The Leafs have one of the best and deepest farm systems in the NHL right now, but it’s still a little top heavy.