Despite the Toronto Maple Leafs having a carousel of young homegrown stars in the NHL, there are still a couple prospects that keep their prospect pool afloat and two of them are running one of the premier development leagues in the world.
Semyon Der-Arguchintsev — a third-round pick in 2018 — currently has two goals but 19 points altogether through just 10 games for the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Hockey League. While his linemate and fellow Leafs prospect Nick Robertson is on the other end of the spectrum with 12 goals and 19 points.
Beyond the boxscore, it’s just generally nice to have two of the top prospects in the system on the same team and playing together. Even if they never continue that chemistry to the professional level, the familiarity instilled into the duo can be beneficial as they make their way through the ranks.
— Peterborough Petes (@PetesOHLhockey) October 5, 2019
The situation is fairly unique. It’s common enough to have two prospects from the same NHL organization playing their junior hockey together, but have two highly skilled forwards on the same line and dominating the rest of the league is special.
By just glancing at their relative boxscores, it’s obvious what kind of dynamic they have between one another. Robertson scores the goals while Der-Arguchintsev is the playmaker. Both can chip in on the other side, but they know where they are early on this OHL season.
But not only are they able to read each other well enough to win some games, but they each lead the entire league in their own categories. Robertson is in sole possession of the league lead in goals, while Der-Arguchintsev is sharing the title for most assists in the OHL. That’s insane.
The two top-5 OHL scorers are clearly in the Leafs’ plans when it comes to the near future. Both were signed to an Entry-Level Contract the summer after they were drafted and have been closely looked at each September they have been invited to.
In just his first NHL pre-season, Der-Arguchintsev was able to stay around the team for a little longer than expected and even played in a couple of the exhibition matchups last year.
There’s a sense that the Leafs have their team locked and will stick to what they currently are for the next few years. Depending on what the results of the next couple of years are, they will still have these waves of young talent to sustain their hopeful success.
The first major wave was of course the top picks of Nylander, Marner, then Matthews, but now they’re slowly adding to the NHL roster through more depth players that can play significant roles for cheap.
Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren should be NHL-level defencemen by this time next year and now with forwards like the two in Peterborough, there might be some inexpensive skilled players for at least two years. If they become what they potentially be, Robertson will serve as a pesky winger that will contribute with some goals and Der-Arguchintsev can be that play-making forward further down the lineup.
This is certainly not the end of the young talent injection for the Leafs, it will now just require more patience and lower draft picks. Both forwards are providing every Leafs fan an opportunity to dream on them.