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Top Leafs Outside the NHL: #9 Mikhail Abramov

Abramov is probably one of the most intriguing names on this list, and when it comes to his upside score, we was one of the highest rated players, but ended up 9th due to the fact that we don’t really see him as being NHL ready. Although I think our voting panel would be happy to be proven wrong here.

Abramov was an absolute steal being selected in the fourth round of the 2019 draft. Though a skilled center in the fourth round usually means he comes with the criticism that frequently comes up with Leafs prospects, he’s undersized. At 5’11, Abramov isn’t particularly short, but his 160 lb listed weight is probably the bigger concern.

So why did they draft him? Here’s some insight from 51Leafs from last summer:

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Abramov is a smart, skilled playmaker who can play both in the middle or on the wing. With the puck on his stick in the offensive zone, Abramov is primarily looking to set up a teammate for a scoring chance. He is very patient with the puck on his stick, and will hold onto the puck and skate around the offensive zone if he has to in order to create a passing lane. He has very good vision, and he has the ability to complete the passes that he sees. He’s also a crafty player that can deke around opposing defencemen if necessary.

In his draft year, Abramov had a .87ppg. That jumped to 1.21 last season, with Abramov having 35 more points than his next closest teammate. Abramov also had more than double the goal total of the 2nd highest scoring forward, and generally he seems to be demonstrating that he can do it on his own, without any support. The issue here is one similar to what the Leafs face with their prospects on the Peterborough Petes, and that is whether or not the Victoriaville Tigres are the right place for Abramov to continue his development or will his final junior season essentially hold him back?

So what does the future look like for Abramov? Well, like I said, he’s not yet eligible for being a full time AHLer, and that’s less than ideal, and despite having a couple of solid junior seasons to his name, he’s probably a long shot for making the Leafs, even a quick look tryout. The reality is that he’s going back to the QMJHL and ideally the Leafs help persuade a powerhouse team to acquire him and give him a better shot at development, and a chance to play a few more playoff games and work with stronger linemates.

Abramov will still be World Junior eligible next season and that wouldn’t be a bad goal for Abramov to aspire to. He’s got an uphill battle by playing outside of Russia, but with continued progress he could make himself a lock (assuming the tournament happens.)

Long term Abramov looks more likely to fit into the Leafs as a playmaking winger replacing some of the more expensive wing options down the road, although the lack of center depth in the organization will probably lead to him getting his shot in the middle, especially in the AHL. He will certainly need to add some muscle for that to work, and might result in a longer path to the NHL, but for the organization it’s probably the more worthwhile route to go.

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#11-15
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