TLN Top Prospects 2017: Unranked Prospects

Yesterday our fearless (or fearful, I can’t remember which) leader kicked off the start of TLN prospect season. This is undoubtedly the highlight of all your summers and it’s a service we happily provide to you free of charge.

Though every year when completing our top prospect rankings there are a handful of players who receive no placement in our top 20, and that gives us pause for reflection.

Are these truly lesser prospects?

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The answer always comes back as “yes”, we truly expect nothing of these players and slowly wait for the day when the player rights expire so we can move on to the next “WTF?” draft pick or college signing.

This year we have six players from across five leagues on our list, and potentially after this season we are done with four of them forever.

Nolan Vesey-F

Vesey seems to be a staple of this list. His most important attribute is being Jimmy Vesey’s brother, but since Jimmy isn’t a Leaf, Nolan failed to live up to his hype. Vesey’s best college season had him with 23 points (13 goals) in 36 games on an uninspired Maine team. Unless a miracle occurs it’s safe to assume the Leafs won’t be doing anything with his rights after his season ends this year.

Kasimir Kaskisuo-G

If goaltenders are in fact voodoo maybe we’ll see a quick turnaround for Kaskisuo and he’ll become the Leafs goaltender of the future in short time. Much more likely is that Kaskisuo is like a lot of other goaltenders and can string together a few good games from time to time, but hasn’t really shown much consistency or promise that warrant keeping around after his contract expires.

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With Bibeau gone, maybe Kaskisuo will get a bit more of a look this year and make us eat our words, but right now everyone at TLN is pretty comfortable with setting the bar low for him.

Keaton Middleton-D

Death, taxes, and bloggers hating on giant-ass defensemen. I’ll admit to being a fan of Middleton at the start of his draft year. He seemed like a worthwhile gamble if he could add any kind of structure to his game to go along with the size that serves him well playing against kids.

So far that hasn’t really happened, and while it seems entirely possible that Keaton could be a long term Great Expectations type project for someone in the Leafs organization, he hasn’t done much to deserve any hype besides the fact that he can probably dunk.

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Nicolas Mattinen-D

 Another in the series of big D that bloggers don’t like, Mattinen seemed like he was worth the late pick when he was selected, as he often the odd man out on a deep London Knights blueline. With increased ice time last season, it turns out that he was sitting because he was clearly not as good as everyone else.

An improved year could keep him around the Leafs organization as a project, but with the Leafs being a franchise that always pushes the maximum number of contracts, it’s far more likely this is the last we hear of Mattinen.

Vladislav Kara- F

Before the draft I tried to familiarize myself with as many Russians, and in particular, overaged Russian prospects as possible to try and see how I could appear smarter when discussing late round gems. I came across a lot of names that I liked. Vladislav Kara was not one of those names.

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I’m going to say something a bit bold here and say you should trust Nikolai Ladygin on Russian prospects over me, and probably the a number of us on this site, but that doesn’t change the fact that the pick seemed bizarre and underwhelming to many.

Kara had a strong playoff appearance last season, but he still hasn’t had a sniff of the KHL. It may come this year, but until it does he’ll likely remain off our radar and off our rankings.

As a 19 year old 6’1 center, who averaged .65 ppg last season in the MHL, Kara is someone worth remembering is in the system, but not necessarily someone you’ll need to pay a lot of attention to.

Ryan O’Connell-D

Selecting a Canadian High School player is about as rare thing as you can see in the draft, so it’s not surprising that at this point no one has any real idea of what to think about Ryan O’Connell. I guess if there’s one thing to be excited about, it’s that he’s got a five year development curve as he’ll play for the Penticton Vees of the BCHL next season before beginning his NCAA career at Boston University in the 2018-19 season.

Pretending I know anything about O’Connell beyond what’s on Elite Prospects wouldn’t be fair to any of us, so you can go and take a look and see that his height, and weight aren’t objectionable to anyone. He apparently gets a decent number of assists, and his previous team wears red.


To recap, these are all people that exist to the best of knowledge and there are reports of them playing hockey. The odds of any of them playing hockey for the Leafs seems a little doubtful, but let’s never forget that somehow Andy Wozniewski was an NHLer once and anything is possible.

These players shouldn’t take our rankings as a criticism, but instead a challenge to get better. Much, much, much better.

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