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Cowan’s streak continues, Minten & Lisowsky power Blades to victory: Leafs Prospect Roundup

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Photo credit:@mapleleafs/twitter
Nick Richard
2 months ago
Welcome back for another edition of the Leafs Prospect Roundup! Building upon our midseason prospect rankings update, we’ll have a deeper look at the Leafs’ pipeline as it pertains to trade assets later this week, so there is no big preamble here today. It was a bit of a light week for the Leafs’ youngsters, so let’s get right to the updates.

Easton Cowan

Cowan kept his point streak going this past week, but just barely. He notched an assist in a rare blowout loss for the Knights at the hands of the Soo Greyhounds and made it 23 straight games with a point when he scored a beauty of a penalty shot goal in a 5-2 win over Owen Sound on Saturday. Cowan is now up to 26 goals and 46 assists in just 41 games this season and is closing in on the Knights’ franchise record for most consecutive games with a point, but he has fallen ever so slightly behind Sharks prospect Quentin Musty for the OHL lead in points per game.

Fraser Minten & Brandon Lisowsky

The Saskatoon Blades had just two games last week, continuing their outstanding season with wins over Lethbridge and Medicine Hat. Lisowsky tallied an assist against Lethbridge on Friday while Minten was held off the scoresheet, but both players were instrumental in Saturday’s win. Lisowsky got the Blades back into the game, tying it up at two with a goal in each of the first two periods after the Tigers had taken a 2-0 lead. Minten gave the Blades their first lead early in the third period, but Medicine Hat would force overtime, where Lisowsky and Minten teamed up to end the game and secure victory for Saskatoon. Minten now has 15 goals and 14 assists in 23 games with the Blades, while Lisowsky is up to 32 goals and 33 assists in 55 outings on the season. The Blades remain the top-ranked team in the CHL, with Lisowsky and Minten both playing key roles in the club’s success as of late.

Topi Niemelä

Niemelä had gone three games without a point before registering a pair of assists in a 4-3 win over Belleville on Friday. It has been an up-and-down year for the Finnish blue liner as he adapts to the North American game, but he has been a consistent offensive driver from the back end and now sits fifth among all U22 AHL defencemen in scoring with six goals and 21 assists in 44 games. Niemelä will have to continue to add physical strength but has already become one of John Gruden’s most trusted defenders, and he will be relied upon even more in the next week or two as the Marlies have their lineup depleted with absences continuing to mount on the Leafs’ blue line. The Leafs obviously want to take it slow with Niemelä, but another injury or two on the back end could even see him make his NHL debut sooner than expected.
For more on Niemelä, check out Stephen Ellis’ piece from earlier in the week:
Scouting Report: Can Topi Niemela be a difference-maker for the Toronto Maple Leafs?

Nikita Grebyonkin

Grebyonkin notched an assist in a losing effort to Kazan on Thursday but had his six-game point streak snapped when Magnitogorsk was shutout by Avangard Omsk on Saturday. It was a tough outing for Grebyonkin as he was on the ice for two of Avangard’s three goals in the contest, but he has come out on the positive side more often than not this season, owning a +11 rating to go along with 18 goals and 21 assists in 63 games. With just five games remaining in their regular season schedule, Magnitogorsk sits one point behind Omsk for first place in the KHL’s Eastern Conference, so Saturday’s loss was a tough one. Magnitogorsk and Omsk will match up twice more to close out the campaign, and first place will likely be decided in those two games.

Alex Steeves

Steeves has been deserving of another NHL look for a while now, and he got his chance against the Blues on Tuesday, as an illness ran through the Leafs’ room and opened a spot in the lineup. He was held off the scoresheet in just over 10 minutes of ice time, but he led the team with six hits and fired one shot on goal in what was one of the Leafs’ most complete victories of the season. Back with the Marlies, Steeves wasted little time getting back into the box score, potting a goal and an assist in a 4-3 win over the Belleville Senators. Now up to 19 goals and 21 assists in 40 games for the Marlies, Steeves remains the top recall option up front for the Leafs.

Artur Akhtyamov

It was a busy week for Akhtyamov as he went 3-0-0, stopping 88 of the 94 shots he faced across three games. After spending the early part of the season in the KHL because of injuries to Kazan’s top two netminders, Akhtyamov has now played more games at the VHL level to this point and owns a 2.00 GAA to go along with a .927 SV% in 19 appearances. With what he has done in the VHL over the last two seasons and in the KHL earlier this season, Kazan should be plenty comfortable should they have to turn to Akhtyamov again with the postseason around the corner.

Vyacheslav Peksa

Peksa’s transition to North America has not been a smooth one, but he has been much better as of late and put together another impressive showing in a shootout loss to Reading on Saturday. He stopped 39 of the 42 shots he faced in regulation and overtime and was beaten just once in the shootout, but his teammates couldn’t convert to secure the win. Peksa has gotten more playing time in recent weeks, and he has taken advantage of the opportunity, sporting a 2-2-1 record with a .930 SV% in his last five starts for the Growlers.
 
Statistics from EliteProspects.com, NHL.com, & KHL.ru

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