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Do the Leafs have the 4th best young talent pipeline in the NHL?

Over the past few weeks Corey Pronman, The Athletic’s NHL scouting guru, has been counting down the top organizations in the NHL when it comes to organizational depth. The criteria being that players are under the age of 22 as of September 15th, 2020, and it will not include skaters older than 22 as of Sept. 15, 2020, who have played 25 NHL games in a season or 50 career games; goalies with 10 games in a season or 25 in a career; nor any player age 26 or older as of Sept. 15, 2020. All of this led to the Leafs being rated the 4th best team in the league for organizational depth. 

By Corey’s own admission the Leafs are this high up in the rankings almost entirely on the back of Auston Matthews, who just barely sneaks into the criteria. The Leafs are destined for a drop next season if the criteria remains the same.

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“Auston Matthews is the reason for why the Leafs are ranked so high. I really like where they got Nick Robertson and Rasmus Sandin, and they have some other solid young players, but Matthews is one of the best players in the league and is the No. 1 center you look for to guide a top team. That piece is worth a ton, and thus guides this franchise to be one of the best in U23 talent.”

Looking at some of the other rankings that Pronman has done, it appears the Leafs would probably fall in the 20-25 range, having a number of high end and very good players, but no elite standout. Perhaps the Leafs owning a first round pick this year was necessary after all.

Without giving away the details of what Pronman wrote about the Leafs prospects, his other players of note following Matthews were

2. Nick Robertson
3. Rasmus Sandin
4. Timothy Liljegren
5. Mikhail Abramov
6. Filip Hallander
7. Nick Abruzzese

So all this youth is good. With the exception of Matthews, the remaining six names listed there represent the opportunity have high end talent in the lineup for cheap over the next couple of years, and while the Leafs roster can be difficult for a number of these guys to crack in the short term, and the Leafs have pressing roster needs that will keep some of these guys out of the bottom pairing or bottom six forward group.

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The lesson at this point is the future is both bright, but it could also be brighter. It will be interesting to see what the organization ranking refreshes to following the draft.