As you’re going to hear more about in the coming days, TLN is set to get going with its annual Top Twenty Prospects series next week. Those profiles will run over the course of the month and into training camp, ending off somewhere in mid-to-late September.
The process we use to get our final list in order entails asking our writing staff to rank their own from a rather large pool of Leafs prospects. But obviously there are rules, and in order to keep things tidy, we again went with Calder eligibility as the main criteria for what defines a “prospect”.
For that reason, Kasperi Kapanen will not be included in our list. Due to his short stints in the NHL in each of the last two regular seasons, he won’t be able to win rookie of the year in 2017-18 (or…well, ever).
So for this week’s roundtable we figured it was a fun exercise to see just how our writers would’ve plugged Kapanen into their rankings if he was, in fact, eligible. I don’t want to speak for the entire fanbase, but I think a lot of people are expecting a nice progression for Kapanen next season as a full-time NHL player, and ideally he can climb the lineup and make himself into a real threat, easing the damage as the team looks at making decisions on forwards such as Komarov, JVR and Bozak between now and season’s end.
(Note: Do not read any further if you want to be surprised a month from now about who’s our number one prospect. But, like, seriously, how could you not know?)
Due to our strict “Calder eligible” criteria in the upcoming TLN Top Twenty Prospects series, Kasperi Kapanen has been ruled out. But, if you could include him, would he rank at the top of your list?
I fall in and out of love with Kasperi Kapanen once a week. On one hand, you look at the way he plays at the AHL level and near the end of the year and you just gawk at the Leafs adding this guy as a regular. He’s provided me with probably the single best moment of joy as a Leafs fan in my adult years, (which is kind of lame, but true all the same).
On the other hand, we’re talking about a guy who despite all the projections and whatnot hasn’t really been able to produce points in his NHL icetime despite a few key goals. Yeah you can talk all you want about matchups and zone starts and bad linemates but at the end of the day, production is the bottom line and he really hasn’t done much in his NHL stints. I think he slots in at #2 behind Liljegren, but some days I think he could slot at the #3 or #4 spot.
If Kapanen were to be included in this year’s prospect rankings, I still think I would put him below Liljegren. While I think Kappy is the better player now (obviously, he has more NHL experience), I think Lily has a higher ceiling. I think Kappy pans out as a top-6 forward, while Lily has potential to be elite. Regardless, Kappy is still second on my list, well ahead of *gets tackled by secret service agents*
Despite Kapanen not being included in this year’s TLN prospect rankings, I would consider him the best prospect the Leafs have. “Best” is always a tricky word when it comes to prospects because the weighing of how good they are now vs. how good they can be in the future will be different for everyone, but I think that Kapanen is going to be a good complementary forward next year and continue to rise. Given his finish last season he’s certainly an NHL player today. I don’t think the same can be said of Liljegren.
Timoth has the higher ceiling no doubt, but Kapanen has defined his ceiling/floor better and we have a good idea that he’s going to be a pretty good NHL player. With Liljegren there’s a lot more uncertainty.
When you look at the Leafs roster it’s clear that the majority of the young talent has already made the Leafs, and it’s really a two horse race between Kapanen and Liljegren for who is the best of the rest.
Liljegren is shiny and new and fills a greater roster need for the Leafs so there may be a tendency to favour him over Kapanen.
Kapanen on the other hand has looked very good in the AHL, and in his recent NHL stints has performed the role asked of him very well, although the points haven’t been there yet.
Objectively it’s closer than I think it is, but I’d still put Kapanen 2nd to Liljegren, despite thinking he’s wonderful. A stellar defensive prospect will always trump a stellar wing prospect for me, and I also like shiny new things.
I thought Liljegren was the easy choice here at first glance, but upon further thought I think there is an argument to be made for Kapanen at the top of this list.
I’m trying my hardest to separate myself from the recent draft hype, and I see Kapanen as a prospect that’s progressed every season he’s been part of this organization, even if some injuries have made it seem less so. The guy just turned 21-years-old a couple weeks back, and will likely move on to a permanent role with the big club this season on the heels of a point-per-game outing with the Marlies last year. That type of output at that age really isn’t common, and I know beyond the numbers the Leafs front office and coaching staff are really excited about this guy’s skill.
Still, like Jon, I think I tend to lean toward a blue-liner like Liljegren when it comes to who I believe can impact the franchise more. So, if Kapanen were eligible I’d probably end up ranking him second, but it would be a razor-thin margin.