Happy World Junior Day, let’s talk Leafs prospects

Photo credit:@PelicansFi Twitter
Jon Steitzer
1 year ago
Admittedly in my family the World Juniors haven’t caught on as a family tradition yet. My Father will always watch whatever sport I put in front of him, but it’s not required viewing. My mother can have her arm twisted to watch a gold medal game, but round robins are out. My wife doesn’t care for sports, and my kids are just now beginning to enjoy playing sports, but the concept of watching sports on TV is still a little ways off. In short, our holiday traditions for Boxing Day are much more based in sluggishly eating leftovers, and watching whatever movie the kids want to watch. That doesn’t mean I don’t envy those of you taking in a whole lot of great junior hockey today.
In the spirit of the World Juniors, and continuing on with our TLN roundtables, I thought I’d ask the TLN crew to reassess who the top prospect is the Leafs organization, now that Liljegren and Sandin are most definitely Leafs and we’ve got a prospect centric tournament to look at.
Here are the responses…

Michael Mazzei

Does Josh Ho-Sang count as a prospect? He is long overdue for a shot with the big club. (Editor’s note: I wouldn’t consider him a prospect, but I don’t doubt we’ll see Ho-Sang get his shot either this year or next.)

Dylan Murphy

-Checks notes to see if any of the Growlers can technically be labelled as Leafs prospects-
Orrin Centazzo. Yes technically, he’s signed to an ECHL contract, but he’s 21and I see him more often than any of the other prospects in Toronto’s system, so hooray (Editor’s note: I respect the bias towards the Rock)

Nick Richard

You could make a case for Nick Robertson or Rodion Amirov in this spot, but in keeping with the theme of the World Juniors, I’m going with the top defenceman at last year’s tournament in 2020 third-round pick Topi Niemela. He has been a star in Liiga so far this season, leading all defencemen in scoring and even led the entire league in scoring for a brief period. For a player who was touted as one of the smarter defensive players in his draft class, Niemela’s offensive explosion has helped him skyrocket towards the top of the Leafs’ prospect rankings. Look for him to once again be a star at the upcoming World Juniors.

Mark Norman

Nick Robertson. It may take him a little longer than anticipated to make an impact because of all his injury issues, but he still possesses an NHL skill set. I worry about how Amirov’s development is being managed in the KHL and can’t wait to see him with the Marlies. He could surpass Robertson within the next year.

Jon Steitzer

Niemela is certainly turning heads, and Amirov has been on the shelf, but I think the answer still has to be Amirov.
That’s not to say that Niemela is a lot better than what I thought the Leafs had with him, and Amirov finds himself in a situation where this will amount to a wasted season, but bring them both over to the Marlies next season and I think we’ll all be back onboard with the offensively gifted winger over the Niemela.
Of course we want to hear your thoughts in the comments as well, but additionally, check out the Prospect Rankings from Kyle Cushman, who went through the Leafs organization from top to bottom on the prospect front.

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