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Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

TLN Prospect Rankings begin: A look at the Leafs’ graduating prospects

It’s that time of year again, it’s blog summer filler content PROSPECT RANKING TIME!!! That magical time of year where we determine who is the best little buff boy the most promising Leafs prospect of the year.

This year is definitely starting off with a couple of unfortunate recognitions, the first being that Ian Scott has, unfortunately, had to call it a career due to ongoing injuries.

Ian Scott showed a lot of promise in his post draft year being a surprise addition to the Canadian World Junior Team and being part of leading Prince Albert to a WHL Championship. Once he went pro the injuries started and he was never able to even begin a proper run at an NHL job. It’s an unfortunate part of hockey and we wish all the best to Ian in what comes next for him.

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The other unfortunate circumstance involving a Leafs prospect is Rodion Amirov’s fight with cancer. A highly touted prospect that many of us are excited to have come over and play in North America is dealing with a far more pressing health issue this year, and while we hope to have the privilege of seeing him in a Leafs camp someday soon, this year it seems inappropriate to include him in our prospect rankings.

The criteria for being included in the rankings

To be considered a prospect in the TLN rankings the player must be under the age of 24 and has to have played 41 or fewer games (no more than the equivalent of half a regular season.) It should also be clear the player has to be on the Maple Leafs reserve list. No players that are on AHL or ECHL deals are included in the rankings, we’ll find time to give you some Dryden McKay and Noel Hoefenmayer takes over the course of the next month, but they won’t make it into our rankings.

Speaking of Dryden McKay, we’ve purposely excluded goaltenders from the rankings as they are very much their own separate thing, and we will discuss them as such. Over the course of the rankings, you’ll get to hear what we think of the goaltending pipeline, I promise.

So who are the graduates from last year?

Well, as often occurs when things go right for your top prospects a couple of names from the top five have been removed. Here was the 2021 Rankings:

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20: Kristians Rubins
19: Joseph Woll
18: Ty Voit
17: Pontus Holmberg
16: Semyon Der-Arguchintsev
15: Pavel Gogolev
14: Dmitri Ovchinnikov
13: Mac Hollowell
12: Veeti Miettinen
11: Joey Anderson
10: Mikko Kokkonen
9: Mikhail Abramov
8: Nick Abruzzese
7: Matthew Knies
6: Roni Hirvonen
5: Topi Niemela
4: Timothy Liljegren
3: Rodion Amirov
2: Nick Robertson
1: Rasmus Sandin

So Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren have gone on to join the Leafs and that’s the best way to see players leave the list. They both seem to be well on their way to fulfilling their potential and took the first steps by being NHL roster locks heading into next season.

The other graduates on this list include Joey Anderson, who is now 24, but despite aging his way off the list, Joey looks like he’ll have a great shot at being a Leafs regular in the 2022-23 as well. Anderson might have aged out, but based on NHL readiness and the fact that there is some intriguing bottom six attributes to his game, he would very likely still be on this list if it weren’t for our cut off.

And also gone from the list are Kristians Rubins and Joseph Woll. Woll we’ve committed to talking about in a separate goaltending capacity, but he also just turned 24 as well. Rubins is 24 and now a Senator, and some of us are quite sad to see him go, but this looks to be the best path to him having an NHL career and for a player’s GM like Dubas that could have been a factor in his decision. Rubins would not have been a lock for a 7D position on the Leafs and this gives a good guy a chance somewhere else. Hopefully he won’t make the Leafs regret that approach the way giving Mason Marchment a chance somewhere else has recently been a sore spot.

No as for some of the other players that aren’t ranked due to their age. Bobby McMann is kind of our GED guy here. He graduated without ever really attending. He has a real shot at spending some time on the Leafs this year, and like Joey Anderson is an intriguing bottom six forward.

Players like Malgin and Mete are certainly not in the rankings due to both age and games played restrictions, but both still represent players were upside/potential could make them better than what we’ve seen so far of them in the NHL. We won’t consider them prospects, but highly intriguing bubble players instead.

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Also who could forget (you could quite easily forget) about Vladislav Kara and Nikolai Chebykin? Both of them are now 24 and off the prospect list while still being on the Leafs reserve list along with Fabrice Herzog and Vladimir Bobylev.

This year’s “senior class”

As for who won’t be back on the rankings next season, the elder statesmen consist of Nick Abruzzese, Mac Hollowell, and Pontus Holmberg. All three will age out of the list while someone like Nick Robertson seems likely to get their on games played. Alex Steeves might be the only other player to get their exclusively on games played and that will depend on how strong his camp is.

Ryan O’Connell is another player that could be off the list due to age by next summer. It seems highly unlikely that the Leafs will offer him a contract when he finishes school.

As for the start of the rankings…

Well, we’ll string you along with our list of players that went unranked and some Honourable Mentions over the course of the weekend, and the 20th ranked prospect will mark the beginning of the countdown on Monday. Plenty of prospect coverage to take you from the end of the Leafs development camp all the way through the World Junior Championships.

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