Cowan’s the complete package, Grebyonkin playoff watch: Leafs Prospect Roundup

Photo credit:twitter.com/londonknights
Nick Richard
1 month ago
After weeks of speculation, the NHL’s trade deadline came and went without the Leafs making a major move to improve their current roster. Instead, general manager Brad Treliving was able to fortify the team’s depth with the additions of Ilya Lyubushkin, Joel Edmundson, and Connor Dewar in exchange for a handful of middle and late-round draft picks.
The additions the Leafs made ahead of the deadline may not mean much in the grand scheme of their ability to contend for a Stanley Cup this season, but holding onto premium assets and top prospects like Easton Cowan could help keep their window of contention open for years to come.
One of the biggest stories in Leaf Land this season, Cowan has gone from being labelled as a reach in the first round of last summer’s draft to becoming a dominant force in the OHL and one of the top prospects outside the NHL. He immediately made an impression in his first training camp with the Leafs last fall, and he has carried that momentum with him all season long, potentially accelerating his NHL timeline in the process.
After a pair of goals against Guelph on Wednesday, an assist against Sarnia on Friday, and a pair of helpers in Saturday’s 4-1 win over Kitchener, Cowan is now riding a 32-game point streak. According to Kevin Papetti of The Athletic and Maple Leafs Hot Stove, Cowan now trails only Alexander Radulov, Sidney Crosby, Connor Bedard, Logan Stankoven, and Nikolaj Ehlers for the longest point streaks in the entire CHL since 2000 – pretty decent company for the youngster.
For the season, Cowan is now up to 32 goals and 56 assists in just 50 games, but his prolific stat line is only part of the story. His impact has been felt in all three zones, with his combination of relentless puck pursuit and responsible defensive posture playing a pivotal role in London’s success. He has been a weapon on the powerplay, the most dangerous penalty killer in the OHL with 14 shorthanded points, and he is more than willing to engage physically.
Cowan has been the heart and soul of the London Knights this season, and it isn’t difficult to envision him filling a similar role in the NHL sooner rather than later. It might take some time for the offensive production to translate, and he isn’t close to overtaking the likes of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander anytime soon, but the style of play that has made him so effective in the OHL is one that should help him adjust to the pro ranks and become a fan favourite in short order.
Leaf fans may have been underwhelmed by what the team was able to accomplish at the deadline, but resisting the urge to cash out on the rapid ascent of their top prospect will pay dividends for years to come. Maybe it’s next season, or perhaps the following year, but Cowan is a player who appears to be a lock for the Leafs roster in the near future.

Notes from the rest of the prospect pool:

  • Fraser Minten is similar to Cowan in that he is a prospect whose game should translate to the NHL, but he hasn’t been nearly as productive this season. Minten scored his 20th goal of the season in Friday’s 3-1 win over Medicine Hat, but he now has just two points in his last six games. For the season, he’s got 42 points in 37 games between Kamloops and Saskatoon, and he’ll be looking to increase his offensive output as he enters the stretch drive of his final season of junior hockey.
  • It was an up-and-down week for Dennis Hildeby. He picked up his 15th win of the season against Belleville on Wednesday, stopping 28 of the 30 shots he faced, but was lit up for six goals on 24 shots in a 7-6 shootout victory over Utica on Friday. Following a spectacular start to his rookie season in the AHL, Hildeby’s numbers have come back down to earth a bit, but he still owns a solid 2.47 GAA to go along with a .908 SV%.
  • Nikita Grebyonkin and his Metallurg teammates are on the brink of advancing to the second round of the KHL playoffs following Saturday’s 3-1 win that gave them a 3-2 series lead over Amur Khabarovsk. Grebyonkin registered an assist in the victory and now has three points while averaging over 18 minutes of ice time through five postseason contests. Still without a contract extension in place with Magnitogorsk, we could see Grebyonkin sign his entry-level deal with the Leafs whenever his KHL playoff run comes to an end.
  • Ryan Tverberg missed Wednesday’s game with an upper-body injury but made an immediate impact upon his return to the lineup on Friday. He scored his ninth goal of the season in the shootout victory and added an assist in a 5-1 loss on Saturday, bringing him to 30 points in 39 games so far in his rookie season with the Marlies.
  • The last few weeks have been tough for Nick Moldenhauer in terms of his offensive production. He scored his eighth goal of the season in Friday’s 5-4 victory over Notre Dame, but it was his first goal and just his second point in ten games. After being held off the scoresheet in Saturday’s rematch with Notre Dame, Moldenhauer has 20 points in 36 games so far in his freshman campaign at Michigan.
  • Roni Hirvonen bumped a slump of his own as the Marlies defeated Belleville by a score of 3-2 on Wednesday. He scored to tie the game late in the second period before Zach Solow notched the eventual winner in the third, and the tying marker ended a nine-game drought for Hirvonen. It has been difficult for the young Finnish winger to get up to speed after missing significant time with a scary eye injury, but he has managed to put up six points in 20 games.
  • Noah Chadwick just keeps putting up points, and he added three assists to his total in three games this past week. The 6’4″ blueliner flashed offensive tools in his draft year, but his overall game has taken a huge step this season, propelling him to 11 goals and 40 assists through 60 games thus far. It’s still early in his development, but the Leafs might have something in their 2023 sixth-rounder.
  • Veeti Miettinen is making a late-season push for that coveted entry-level contract with the Leafs, and Friday’s contest against Minnesota-Duluth represented both the pros and cons of his game. Despite scoring twice and adding an assist, Miettinen finished the game -4 as the Huskies were defeated in overtime by a score of 6-5. The limitations of the +/- stat are well documented, but Miettinen’s overall game has its limitations as well, and there is concern that his offensive skills won’t be enough to make up for that at the pro level. Still, the 2020 sixth-round pick is enjoying a career year with 17 goals, and he has probably earned an AHL deal at the very least.
  • The Leafs did make one addition and one subtraction to their prospect pool in their trade deadline dealings. 2020 fifth-round pick Dmitri Ovchinnikov was dealt to Minnesota as part of the Connor Dewar trade, but he is expected to remain with the Marlies for the rest of the season, with a return to Russia next season appearing likely. The Leafs also brought in 23-year-old, 6’7″ blueliner Cade Webber in a deal with the Carolina Hurricanes. Webber was drafted by the Hurricanes in the fourth round of the 2019 draft and was not expected to sign with Carolina before his exclusive rights expire this summer. The Leafs gave up a 2026 sixth-rounder for the opportunity to negotiate with Webber before then and presumably have designs on making him a part of their organization when he wraps up his collegiate career at Boston University this spring.
Statistics from EliteProspects.com & KHL.ru

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