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TLN Prospect Rankings: The Honourable Mentions

We are going to kick off our 2020 TLN Prospect Rankings with the three players who didn’t make the top 20 but are still relevant enough to make our honourable mentions.

Dmitri Ovchinnikov

Position: C
Age: 18
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 163 lbs
Shoots: Left
Drafted: 2020 Round 5 #137 overall
Highest TLN Prospect Rank: 14 (By Nick DeSouza)

I personally had Ovchinnikov ranked the highest out of the TLN crew at 14. To many, Ovchinnikov was regarded as a sleeper prior to the draft and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Leafs were the ones to take him. One thing that was surprising though, was the fact that they traded up for the pick, something that we don’t usually see too often by Dubas.

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Ovchinnikov is currently playing in Russia for Sibir in both the KHL and the MHL (most of his games have been with the MHL). While Ovchinnikov’s raw offensive numbers in the MHL are quite impressive, it’s his ability to transition the puck up the ice that makes me so high on him. It feels like he’s constantly generating zone entries and odd-man rushes for his team whenever he is on the ice. In the offensive zone, he has good hockey sense and can make plays in tight spots which leads to chances for himself and his teammates.

On the downside, he’s a small player and isn’t particularly strong on his feet. He currently plays center but unless he gets stronger and better positionally, I project him as more of a winger if he gets up to the NHL level. At 18, he’s got time to grow as a person and a player. Ovchinnikov is years away from the final product but should be one of the more intriguing players once he gets there. I’ll certainly be rooting for him.

Kalle Loponen

Position: D
Age: 19
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 187 lbs
Shoots: Right
Drafted: 2019 round 7 #204 overall
Highest TLN Prospect Rank: 12 (By Brian)

Loponen is an accurate player to have in the honourable mention category. After having a good season with the Sudbury Wolves, Loponen is now in Finland playing for Karpat, spending time in Liiga and the U20 SM-Sarja. Loponen tallied 24 points in 56 points in the 2019-2020 OHL season. While point production doesn’t tell us much about defencemen, it’s nice to see some production even though many of the points came from the powerplay. The majority of a defenceman’s value comes in transition and the ability to defend. Loponen rarely makes game-changing plays, but is fairly mobile and can adequately move the puck. As a right-handed defenceman, he’s a prospect to keep in mind, but we will have to see some major strides in his game before giving him a position in the Leafs top-20 prospects.

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Veeti Miettinen

Position: RW
Age: 19
Height: 5’9″
Weight: 159 lbs
Shoots: Left
Drafted: 2020 round 6 #168 overall
Highest TLN Prospect Rank: 12 (By Earl Schwartz)

Circling back to the 2020 draft, Miettinen seems to be the classic low-risk, high-reward type of player the Leafs love to target in the later rounds. Miettenen is on the smaller-end but has a really intriguing offensive skill-set. He was a scoring phenom in the Finnish junior league over the past few years tallying 69 goals in 100 games. He’s a fun player to watch when he gets the puck in the offensive zone as his playmaking ability and shot make him dangerous. Going forward, being able to play with bigger, stronger players will be a challenge. One encouraging thing I have noticed while watching him is his ability to anticipate the play. In a similar fashion to other Leafs prospects, Miettenen has a strong hockey IQ, which is a good sign for any prospect.

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Miettinen is a bit of a project, but to gain a player with this type of upside in the 6th round is a huge win.

Thanks for reading!

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