It was once again a busy week in the Toronto Maple Leafs system as the Marlies continue their long road trip, the Growlers finally got their 2022 schedule underway, and one more prospect is heading to the Olympics. In addition to all the news, there were a few marquee performances to get to, so let’s dive right into things in the latest Leafs Prospect Roundup.
Ty Voit | C | Sarnia (OHL)
Ty Voit’s Sarnia Sting faced off against the Owen Sound Attack twice over the weekend, and oh was it ever an eventful pair of games.
In the opening game of the weekend, Sarnia found themselves down 2-0 in the second period. On the penalty kill and in danger of going down 3-0, Voit capitalized on a pinching Owen Sound defender to score his 10th goal of the season and cut the deficit in half.
Then came the bad. Just a couple of minutes after this goal, Voit was on the receiving end of a nasty late hit from Mark Woolley. Voit would miss the remainder of the second period, but somehow managed a return for the third. Woolley received a major penalty for the hit and was subsequently suspended indefinitely, pending full OHL review on the play (standard procedure for a play such as this).
Here is the nasty hit to the head Ty Voit took earlier tonight (h/t @StingUpdates who is a great follow for Voit updates)
He somehow returned to the game, tying the game 2-2 and adding a primary assist in the third. The play resulted in a major penalty
— Kyle Cushman (@Kyle_Cush) January 22, 2022
Upon returning to the Sarnia bench, Voit made quick work tying the game at 2-2, notching his 11th goal of the season. He added a primary assist on essentially his next shift to put Sarnia on top, though they would eventually lose in the shootout.
Ty Voit had another sensational effort last night vs OS. 2G/1A/+2/shootout goal.
He took a dirty hit & had to leave the game but in his first shift back he scored the tying goal. 40 points in 29 games for the #LeafsForever prospect. Been an absolute superstar for Sarnia. #Sting pic.twitter.com/u96WH5JIAG
— @StingUpdates (@StingUpdates) January 22, 2022
In Sunday’s rematch, Voit added another two primary assists to his account this season as Sarnia avenged their Friday night loss.
A 2021 fifth-round pick of the Leafs, Ty Voit has already earned himself an entry-level contract and continues to be an offensive catalyst in the OHL. His 42 points in 30 games are impressive, but diving into more detail reveals just how good Voit has been with the Sting this season.
An incredible 39 of his 42 points have been primary, revealing just how involved Voit has been offensively, directly creating chances for Sarnia this season. At 5v5, the Sting have outscored opponents 37-22 with Voit on the ice as well.
Voit is top 20 in OHL scoring this season while on a Sarnia team that ranks second last in goals scored. Watch for his production to truly explode once Sarnia adds more talent around him.
Veeti Miettinen | LW | St. Cloud State (NCHC)
A lot of people have been somewhat disappointed with Veeti Miettinen this season. After leading St. Cloud State in scoring as a freshman, he ranks just sixth on the team through 20 games this season. But there’s a lot more to the story.
St. Cloud State demolished Miami (Ohio) in two games over the weekend, winning 11-1 and 8-0. Miettinen picked up two goals and a primary assist, bringing his season totals to seven goals and 16 points in 20 games. Even with how his stock has seemingly dropped, Miettinen is scoring at a higher rate than last year.
The Finn is off and flying! 🇫🇮✈️
— The NCHC (@TheNCHC) January 23, 2022
Most importantly for me is that all 16 of Miettinen’s points this season have either been a goal or a primary assist. For context, he scored 18 primary points last season in 31 games, so his rate of primary production has improved quite a bit.
Keep in mind that Miettinen has done all of this the past year and a half while playing on a veteran-laden team, where opportunities are very spread out. Kevin Fitzgerald and Easton Brodzinski, St. Cloud State’s two leading scorers this season, are both five years older than Miettinen.
Much of the NCAA attention among Leafs prospects have gone to the likes of Matthew Knies, Nick Abruzzese, and even Ryan Tverberg this season, but Miettinen is quietly putting together another strong campaign on one of the top teams in the entire NCAA.
Dmitry Ovchinnikov | C | Sibirskie (MHL)
It’s been a frustrating season for Dmitry Ovchinnikov, something we’ve noted repeatedly this year in our prospect roundups. Despite being signed through next season, Sibir Novosibirsk has been extremely reluctant to use Ovchinnikov in their KHL squad. Without a VHL affiliate, Ovchinnikov has essentially had to either sit on the bench in the KHL or go back down to the MHL and continue to dominate as he did last year.
This week, Ovchinnikov was back down in the MHL with Sibirskie. As per usual when he’s down in the MHL, he scored four goals and eight points across three games, good enough to win him TLN Prospect of the Week honours. Be sure to head over to our Instagram to check out his highlights from the week.
We know Ovchinnikov is far too good for the MHL level at this point, but it’s better than the alternative of sitting on the bench in the KHL and continuing to do nothing. He’s up to 10 goals and 22 points in 15 games with Sibirskie this season, outscoring opponents 20-11 at 5v5 in the process.
— Nick Richard (@_NickRichard) January 22, 2022
To put in context how dominant Ovchinnikov is at the MHL level, Sibirskie’s leading scorer this year is Matvei Belianini with 25 points in 35 games. In 20 fewer games, Ovchinnikov has three fewer points. With Ovchinnikov in the lineup Sibirskie has a record of 5-8-2, without him it’s an appalling 8-25-1.
All of this to say, it’s time we see Ovchinnikov at a higher level of competition. It’s possible he gets a look on Sibir’s fourth line when NICK SHORE goes to the Olympics, but if we’re being honest it’s probably 13th forward and MHL duties for Ovchinnikov the rest of the season.
Pontus Holmberg | C | Växjö (SHL)
It was a fine week in the SHL for Pontus Holmberg, adding a goal and an assist in three games to bring his season totals to 28 points in 34 games. But it wasn’t his production this week that put him in the news, rather it was Sweden naming him to their Olympic roster for the quickly approaching Beijing Games.
Holmberg is the youngest player and only NHL affiliated prospect on Team Sweden’s roster for the Olympics, an incredible feat when you consider his career trajectory to this point.
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) January 21, 2022
Back in 2018, the Leafs swapped sixth-round picks with the Sabres to draft Holmberg. He was barely on the radar at this point, an overage prospect who had played a majority of the 2017/18 season with his hometown team, VIK Västerås HK, in the Swedish third division.
Since then, Holmberg had progressed from a bottom-six SHL centre in 2018/19, to a middle-six SHL centre in 2019/20 and 2020/21, and finally blossoming into a top-line forward during the 2021 playoffs. In fact, Holmberg won playoff MVP for his efforts as Växjö won the SHL championship last season, a feat that earned him an entry-level contract following the completion of the season.
He returned to Växjö to finish out his contract this season where he has maintained the level he showed in the playoffs all year, posting career highs in goals, assists, and points already through just 34 games.
Holmberg’s progression from an overage, late-round selection out of the Swedish third tier into a legit first-line quality SHL forward and now an Olympian is one of the best stories in the entire Toronto Maple Leafs system. Be sure to check him out during the Games before he joins the Marlies later this year.
Ian Scott | G | Newfoundland (ECHL)
It may have only been for one period, but it was great to see Ian Scott finally return to game action this season.
◼ PROJECTED LINES ◼
— Newfoundland Growlers (@NLGrowlers) January 23, 2022
Scott had a lot of hype coming out of junior, a WHL top ten pick who posted excellent numbers with the 2018/19 Prince Albert Raiders, but injuries had other plans.
He missed the entire 2019/20 season, opting to undergo hip surgery to remedy the ongoing issues he had been facing. Last year things weren’t much better, as Scott made just three starts between the AHL and ECHL levels.
Heading into this season, Scott was healthy and ready to finally get his professional career truly underway…that is until a preseason injury with the Maple Leafs.
Scott has been slowly working his way back up to game speed, practising with the Leafs and Marlies regularly for the past few weeks. In easing him back into game action, Scott was assigned to the Newfoundland Growlers this past week and made his first start of the season against Kansas City. He played in just the first period, a planned move heading into the game, stopping five of six shots he faced.
It’s been an uphill battle for Ian Scott to even just get his career underway, so hopefully, this cautious approach works and we can see him become a regular with the Growlers the rest of this season.
News and notes from the rest of the system
Marlies and Growlers
- A lacklustre week for the Marlies as they go 0-2-1, scoring just five goals in that span. Mikhail Abramov was the only prospect to score, as AHL signed players Bobby McMann, Ryan Chyzowski, Antti Suomela, and Jack Kopacka grabbed the rest of the Marlies goals this week.
- The Growlers finally made their 2022 debut this weekend, returning with a 9-4 win on Friday before losing on Saturday and Sunday.
- I wouldn’t be surprised to see Growlers forward Orrin Centazzo get upgraded to an AHL contract with the Marlies sooner than later. He scored five goals over the weekend to bring his season totals to 11 goals and 22 points in 21 games. He’s third in scoring on the Growlers as the youngest forward on the team.
- Matthew Knies scored the tying goal for Minnesota against Michigan on Friday night, extending his point streak to five games. This is likely his last game with Minnesota as he heads off with Team USA for the Olympics.
- A bit of a cold streak for Ryan Tverberg, who has gone pointless in his last four games with UConn.
- Speaking of pointless streaks, Joe Miller has gone without a point in three consecutive games for the first time all year with Chicago in the USHL.
- I was surprised to see Topi Niemelä left off Team Finland’s roster for the Olympics given his fantastic season. Finland went veteran-heavy and only named two Liiga players to their roster.
- Axel Rindell played under 14 minutes in both games for Kärpät this week. He probably still comes over to the Marlies on an ATO at the end of the season, but at this point, I don’t expect the Leafs to sign him before his exclusive rights expire in June.
What prospects do you want to read about next week? Let us know in the comments below!