Photo Credit: twitter.com/MapleLeafs

Six Maple Leafs prospects set to compete in the World Junior Championships

Team Canada was the first country to unveil their final roster for the upcoming World Junior Championships on Friday afternoon and despite no Leafs being included on the Canadian squad, the organization will still be well represented at the tournament.

The rest of the rosters began to trickle out early Saturday morning and, along with the confirmation that top prospect Nick Robertson will not be joining the American squad, came the news of six Leafs prospects who have been selected to represent their country in the pursuit of WJC Gold.

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The Leafs’ most recent first round pick, Rodion Amirov, along with 2019 fourth rounder Mikhail Abramov and and 2020 fourth rounder Artur Akhtyamov will suit up for Russia. Amirov is expected to be one of Russia’s top forwards and he is likely to play on their top line and power play unit while also receiving spot duty on the penalty kill. Abramov, for his part, should fit in on the second or third line for the Russian squad and he will see time on the power play as well. The Russians don’t have the deepest team in the tournament but they might have the best goaltender in Yaroslav Askarov and, barring an injury, Akhtyamov will be lucky to see the crease at all.

The Leafs will also be sending three players, including two more of their selections from the 2020 draft, to play for Finland at the WJC. Their third round pick from 2019, Mikko Kokkonen, played in the tournament last year and he will be a part of Finland’s leadership group while playing heavy defensive minutes on their blue line. The two players the Leafs selected after trading down from the 44th overall pick in October’s draft, Roni Hirvonen and Topi Niemela, have also made the Finnish roster. Hirvonen has the versatility to play both center and wing, likely slotting in somewhere in Finland’s middle six. Niemela is already in his second full Liiga season and won’t turn 19 until March so he should be well equipped to handle difficult assignments on Finland’s back end as well.

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