Top Leafs Players Outside the NHL: #11-#15

Good news! We’ve already profiled Kalle Kossila, Kevin Gravel, and Mikko Salomaki, so there’s no risk of you ever having to endure that again. In fact, the rest of the list is much more of an interesting balance between prospects and usable NHLers, hopefully providing a bit of context to where we see those prospects meshing ability wise with the callups at this point.

#15 Joseph Duszak

Duszak is showing signs of being a solid found wallet, after the Leafs signed him as a free agent from Meryhurst University at the end of the 2018-19 season. While getting his feet wet in pro hockey for the Growlers, Duszak exceeded a point per game pace, and when promoted to the Marlies he kept the offense going picking up 18 points in 23 games. Not bad for a defenseman.

Duszak is a bit undersized and maybe that’s going to make his journey to the NHL a bit more of a challenge, but like Jesper Lindgren, the fact that he’s got a right handed shot, he’s going to get his opportunities.

2016-17  Mercyhurst Univ. NCAA 29 5 16 21 34
2017-18  Mercyhurst Univ. NCAA 35 9 22 31 22
2018-19  Mercyhurst Univ. NCAA 37 16 31 47 42
 Toronto Marlies AHL 2 0 0 0 2
2019-20  Toronto Marlies AHL 23 3 15 18 24
 Newfoundland Growlers ECHL 34 9 26 35 34

If 2020-21 features a full time promotion of Timothy Liljegren to the Leafs, that opens up a lot of opportunities for the other Marlies RHD to prove themselves and make their cases for advancement. Given that Duszak will be turning 23 next season, he might get opportunities ahead of players like Mac Hollowell that the organization can still take more of a longer term approach with as well.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

#14 Nick Abruzzesse

Drafting a 19 year old out of the USHL seemed like an odd move at the time. The fact that Abruzzesse is 5’9 probably didn’t help, though he unquestionably had a break out season with the Chicago Steel.

Fast forward to 2019-20, and Nick isn’t looking any taller, but his numbers are still looking as good as they were in the previous season, as he put up 44 points in 31 games for Harvard, picking up the ECAC Rookie of the Year honours in the process.

Abruzzesse will turn 21 in June, and given that he’s late round pick and attending Harvard, I wouldn’t doubt that Abruzzesse plans on going the full four years of school unless a truly great, jump right to the NHL opportunity were to present itself, and I doubt either the player or the organization are quite there yet, but it doesn’t change that he’ll be an interesting player to keep an eye on.

#13 Adam Brooks

The Leafs injury situation was the friend of Adam Brooks, who got a taste of the NHL this season with seven games with the Leafs, picking up 3 points. While he didn’t exactly standout, he did make a case for himself as a depth callup and perhaps that is something he can build on and parlay into a fourth line or 13th forward role in the future.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Like Abruzzesse, Brooks doesn’t have typical NHL size, and especially for where he’d be playing in the lineup, he’s going to struggle with that. Brooks does have a solid hockey IQ, and strong work ethic that will help give him opportunities to prove himself as there is little doubt he’ll show up ready to make the most of his opportunities, though he will primarily get looked at as a Marlie, and as he turns 24 next month, that organizational depth role might be his future, although I believe the Leafs would like to continue have him fill that role for their organization rather than having Brooks move on.

#12 Semyon Der-Arguchintsev

I know I’ve committed to Der-Arguchintsev as being a prospect worth keeping an eye on because I can now spell his last name without google autocompleting it for me.

SDA might have been playing second fiddle out of the Leafs prospects on the Petes this season, but there is little doubt that the organization is interested in what he can bring to the table as there was a lack of center talent in the pipeline until he, Abruzzesse, and Mikhail Abramov provided some exciting question marks to keep an eye on in the coming seasons.

Der-Arguchintsev hasn’t been able to move past the 12 goal total he put up in his draft year, though he repeated it this season in 13 fewer games than his draft year. He also put up an impressive 63 assists, making the most of his playing time with Nick Robertson. His lower point totals in 2018-19 accompanied by his stellar linemates in 2019-20 make SDA a bit of a wildcard, but potentially he’ll get a chance to show where he’s at with the Marlies next year.

#11 Mikko Kokkonen

Last June I thought Kokkonen could have been the steal of the draft for the Leafs. Now Abruzzesse, Abramov, and Robertson could have proven me wrong on that, but Kokkonen remains an excellent defensive prospect.

Seeming Kokkonen took a bit of a step back last year, playing less time in Liiga than in his draft year and not putting up the same point totals, though there’s still a lot of promise there and perhaps a lot of presumed decline in Kokkonen’s outputs can be associated with him playing on a bad team.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

The best thing for Kokkonen would be making the move to North America as soon as possible, although if he’s wanting to stay in Finland, a transition to top team that can develop him would have to be part of the plan.

Previous Rankings

Honourable Mentions

Our Top 10 start tomorrow.