TLN Top 20 Leafs Prospects Midterm Rankings: The Final List

This past week, we’ve been counting down the Top 20 Leafs Prospects as voted on by nine of our staff writers. The criteria was simple – you’re eligible for TLN’s rankings if you’re eligible to win a Calder Trophy. We finished our countdown yesterday, but we’re back today with a consolidated list of all 20 of the players we ranked.

#20 – Nikita Korostelev

To say the first half to Korostelev’s 2015-16 season has been disappointing is an understatement. Despite returning to a fairly strong Sarnia team that features New Jersey Devils top prospect Pavel Zacha and 2016 top prospect Jakob Chychrun, Korostelev has been unable to even keep pace with his previous season’s numbers – he has just 26 points in 36 games. – Justin Fisher

#19 – Frederik Gauthier

If Frederik Gauthier ever etches out a career in the NHL for himself, it’ll likely be as a fourth-line center. However, we as a staff feel at least reasonably confident that he can fulfill that upside, so he’s able to still squeak onto our list of the top 20 prospects in the Maple Leafs organization. – Shawn Reis

#18 – JJ Piccinich

Piccinnich’s OHL career got off to a rocky start as he had to work his way back into the lineup after a preseason injury. Once he got going, Piccinich wasted little time adapting his playing style to the OHL game. With 21 goals and 45 points in 36 games, Piccinich sits fourth on the team in scoring and is doing so while playing a secondary role behind the top line of Marner, Dvorak and Tkachuk. – Tom Hunter

#17 – Jesper Lindgren

Lindgren spent most of his draft season piling up points as a 17-year old on a powerhouse MODO J20 team. This year, Lindgren is out of the junior leagues and plying his trade against men. Spending most of the season so far with MODO in the SHL, scoring three points in 24 games, Lindgren was recently loaned out to his hometown IF Bjorkloven in order to get him more ice time. That might sound like a demotion, but it’s likely best for his development; MODO is a veteran-heavy squad and Lindgren averaged just over 10 minutes of ice time per game, making him a sixth or seventh defender at best. With Bjorkloven, Lindgren has already scored two points in four games. – Justin Fisher

#16 – Stuart Percy

Percy has played the majority of games for the Marlies this season and has seen a slight uptick in his production (0.44 points-per-game through 30 appearances), so that’s definitely a positive. But for me it seems the Leafs sort of hit the reset button here on Percy when they drafted Dermott this past summer, and the former has taken a dip on our list until he can establish his game again and generate some excitement to get him back up there with the younger guys who’ve become much more of a focus recently. – Ryan Fancey

#15 – Rinat Valiev

Most of Valiev’s offence creation comes from his strong skating ability and puck dispersal skills, though it wouldn’t hurt him to shoot more; he’s currently at a relatively sustainable 9.7% shooting percentage, but averaging less than a shot per game. He also is second on the team to [Andrew] Campbell in plus/minus; the two are usually paired with the teams higher-scoring lines at even strength to be available in the event of a turnover. – Jeff Veillette

#14 – Martins Dzierkals

Dzierkals is an interesting case, as it’s clear he can generate offence – he put up 68 points in 23 games in 2014-15 – but again, not at a level really comparable to most other top prospects, as he was playing in a Latvian junior league. It’s clear he’s got some talent and has been putting up respectable numbers for a third-round pick following his draft year, but he still likely needs more time under the North American microscope before it’s really clear what his future may be with the Leafs’ organization. – Adam Laskaris

#13 – Andrew Nielsen

Last season the numbers for Andrew Nielsen painted him as your traditional stay at home defender, who was willing to drop the gloves, and he picked up the handful of points, but really not enough to take notice. 
This season, thanks to his booming point shot, Andrew Nielsen is the top scoring defenseman in the WHL, and has 46 points in his first 42 games (though 23 of those points are secondary assists) […] The fact that he Nielsen possesses a smart and physical game make him an interesting prospect and could make him somewhat of a Dion Phaneuf light (not a bad thing, remember you’re not paying him $7M). – Jon Steitzer

#12 – Nikita Soshnikov

Soshnikov has been playing for the Marlies this season and has been all sorts of impressive. A quick look at his numbers may not impress – 17 points in 32 games is decent, but not great – but Soshnikov has been playing in almost an entirely 4th line role alongside Fredrik Gauthier and Rich Clune. In doing so, the skilled and tenacious Russian has given up potential points to instantly shed any worries about him being a small Euro-type player. In fact, Soshnikov thrives on the forecheck and is already a borderline NHL-elite level puck protector. – Bobby Cappuccino 

#11 – Brendan Leipsic

When speaking with the Habs fans that are unfortunately ever-present in my life, they realize that Carey Price is who the team relies on but they are quick to point to Brendan Gallagher and his injury this year as a secondary reason why the team is struggling. Gallagher is the type of player Leaf fans should be hoping Leipsic will turn out to be. A secondary scoring option that is beloved by his own fans but hated everywhere else. After putting up big penalty minutes in junior, Leipsic has learned to play a much more controlled game in the AHL that will go a long way in allowing him to focus on the offensive side of the game. – Tom Hunter

#10 – Scott Harrington

This year, Harrington impressed in just about every training camp appearance he made, leading to him making the Leafs roster to start the season. While he wasn’t dressed every single night, he did manage to get himself in fifteen games. In that stretch, he spent most of his time playing a draw-back shutdown game with Roman Polak which saw the two start most of their shifts in the offensive zone; not so much to try and score but to help the more adept forwards keep the puck from too far across the ice. Harrington’s positive relative possession numbers represent success in this regard. – Jeff Veillette

#9 – Garret Sparks

It may be that there’s just been a small sample size at the NHL level, but something is to be said for a goaltender that can hold his head and ride the hot hand when given a high-stakes opportunity – and from his league debut shutout to the final game before his injury, Sparks proved that the Leafs have a young goaltender in the system who may have the capability of holding his own in the show a year or two down the row. For a team that’s struggled to find consistent goaltending in recent years, that’s something Toronto has to be happy about… – Cat Silverman

#8 – Connor Brown

Some of us are concerned that an ankle injury hurts Brown’s stock since he’s not known for his superb skating in the first place. That said, he’s got a strong offensive game and still figures to be one of Toronto’s top young forwards. Brown will return to game action shortly (he’s already practicing), and if he finishes the season strong, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him earning an NHL roster spot as early as next season. – Justin Fisher

#7 – Jeremy Bracco

On a very talented Kitchener team, Bracco has put up 11 goals, 36 points in 26 games, good enough to be 34th in league scoring despite having played fewer games than any of the players ahead of him. The way the Rangers are built it’s reasonable to expect that Bracco is in for a deep playoff run and possible Memorial Cup appearance, so his decision to transition to the OHL has served him well. – Jon Steitzer

#6 – Travis Dermott

Already seen as a good decision-maker who can defend efficiently, at least for his age, the focus on Dermott this season was how he’d handle being the go-to guy on Erie’s blue-line and whether his production could take a step forward. While we usually talk about the departure of McDavid in terms of the effect on his linemates specifically, the team as a whole obviously lost a ton of firepower there. – Ryan Fancey

#5 – Dmytro Timashov

He’s flashy, explosive, and does things with the puck on his stick that people expect from a top-5 pick like Mitch Marner. Timashov is showing that he has elite playmaking skills and the ability to create dangerous offense every shift, though he’ll have to put on some muscle and work on his awareness without the puck on his stick to succeed at the next level. – Tom Hunter

#4 – Andreas Johnson

Andreas Johnson adds a high-end, shoot-first winger to the Leafs system that seems to be primarily stocked with playmakers. [He’s] a player who knows how to use his speed and shows it off on a regular basis on the bigger ice surfaces in Europe […] The majority of the questions around Andreas Johnson seem to be the common ones for players who come over from leagues overseas. Will his game translate? And can he put up points in a league that doesn’t consider Spencer Abbott to be a star player? – Jon Steitzer

#3 – Kasperi Kapanen

Overall, Kapanen’s AHL production has been a little disappointing (10 points in 18 games), but he’s one of the league’s youngest players and not everybody can be William Nylander. Illness and injury were tough roadblocks for him and as the season progresses, he should improve. There are moments where you can see why he was a first-round draft pick and why the Leafs went after him; he has a terrifyingly good release and his straight line skating ability is very strong. It might take him a bit more time to develop than the others, but there’s no reason that Kapanen couldn’t play in an NHL top-six in a few years. – Jeff Veillette

#2 – Mitch Marner

As insane as it was for Marner to put up 126 points in 63 games in the OHL last season (2.00 points per game), he’s finding a way to top those totals this year – he’s got 61 points in 28 games, good for a 2.17 point-per-game pace. Yeah, Marner is playing in the OHL, but let’s not lose sight of how exceptional and rare it is for anybody to put up the sort of numbers that Marner is. – Shawn Reis

#1 – William Nylander

What Nylander has accomplished in the AHL is incredible, leading the league in scoring for most of the year as a 19-year old in a league dominated by players in their mid-twenties. Had Nylander come up in the Canadian junior leagues he wouldn’t even be allowed to compete at the level he is today, a testament to how advanced a prospect he is. In 27 games so far this season, Nylander has amassed 14 goals and 34 points, tying him for third in AHL scoring. Remember, though, that Nylander left the Marlies in mid-December to represent Sweden at the World Juniors while leading the league in scoring. A month later, he’s only two points shy of the lead. – Justin Fisher

  • Gary Empey

    remember when guys like petter granberg, greg mckegg, tyler biggs, brad ross and kenny ryan were our best prospects? lol sad times indeed. half of those guys are in the echl or europe.

  • Gary Empey

    Andrew Nielson is putting up better numbers than Provorov this year both on an absolute and percentage basis. He’s also bigger than Provorov. And while he may not be as fast as a speedster forward like Matt Barzal he is every bit as fast as Provorov.

    Provorov was the 7th overall pick last year and deservedly so. Nelson was overlooked last year because his team was so bad that his stats suffered. In my mind Neilson should be in our top 5. While I love Dermott, I think Neilson is our best defence prospect. He has the best chance of being a true top pair defenceman in the NHL. And being a defence men, if he can reach his potential he has way more upside then either Johnson or kapanen.

    • I too think that Nielson has the best chance at being THE next defenseman to make the Leafs. What he is doing out west certainly is pretty special. This guy has a real good first pass, he hits and he can score. Still needs some work on his skating, I think a top 10 prospect for the Leafs.

  • SEER

    I have to laugh sometimes, on how intently people try to argue about how someone is going to develop… And some people laugh my name “Seer”..? LOL! : )

    Another top-30 2016 NHL draft Prospect for you.. I have several d-man, added now.. Bean currently sits in 3td, for WHL D-men in points.., while our own 2015 Prospect Andrew Nielsen sits in 1st place… : )

    Jake Bean
    Defense — shoots R
    Born Jun 9 1998 — Calgary, ALTA
    17 yrs. ago
    Height 6.00 — Weight 175

    RECENT STATS:

    2014-15 Calgary Hitmen – WHL
    51 Games… 5 Goals… 34 Assists… 39 Points… +20
    —————————
    2015 PLAYOFFS
    7 Games… 2 Goals… 4 Assists… 6 Points… -2

    2015-16 Calgary Hitmen – WHL (*Up to Jan. 16th 2016)
    43 Games… 15 Goals…25 Assists… 40 Points… -2
    ——————
    2015-16 Team Canada U-18 – Hlinka Memorial
    4 Games… 0 Goals…1 Assist… 1 Point… +2

    Light From Black: Jake Bean 2015-16 Highlights – 2016 NHL Draft Prospect

    —> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xx7dL6PmZyE

    • Gary Empey

      I don’t know who the idiot is that keeps trashing Seer’s NHL draft Prospect video clips. These are valuable links we can use to evaluate are very important draft picks this year. Why would anyone try to discourage Seer from posting them here? If you think there is something wrong with them then be an adult and say so in a reply.

  • magesticRAGE

    I hope Brown can pick up where he left off, I’d hate to see him slide further.

    I wouldn’t necessarily put Johnson that high, but I haven’t seen his game, only (SEER) highlights. He is a sniper with speed and skill, would pair well with a playmaker like Timoshov. I guess we’ll see how does in the Marlies.

    I was hoping Gauthier would put up more points, but he’s delivering on his credentials, his progression is slow but steady. I’d like to see him protect the puck better in the o-zone.

    I’d like to see Soshnikov be higher on this list, he’s already becoming a favorite of mine. I can see him on the same line as Komarov, their opponents would have no room.