The Maple Leafs are in good hands with Knies, Minten & Cowan
Photo credit:(Photo by Steven Ellis/Daily Faceoff)
By Shane Seney2 months ago
The Toronto Maple Leafs have a new wave of talent coming and it starts and finishes with Matthew Knies, Fraser Minten and Easton Cowan. All three prospects are at different stages of their young careers and they will join the big club at different times throughout the next couple of seasons. But rest assured, the Maple Leafs are in very good hands with these three prospects coming down the pipe.
The Traverse City prospect tournament is two games in and against the Dallas Stars prospects on Friday night, the Leafs trio put on a show. From their puck pursuits to their ability to find open space, or how well they protect the puck and battle along the wall or the way they use their speed to sift through opponents throughout all 200 feet of the ice, Knies, Minten and Cowan were all making it look easy.
Leafs Nation can expect to see Knies first with the big club as there’s little doubt he’ll make the Maple Leafs out of training camp this season. Many felt he shouldn’t be in Traverse City, but it’s a great opportunity for the Arizona native to get on the ice and battle with some of the best prospects from around the league and to familiarize himself with many of the other Leaf prospects.
The former NCAA star will then head to the main camp and should be able to use the preseason to solidify his spot in head coach Sheldon Keefe’s lineup. Perhaps a spot on the third line to start the season and some second power-play time could be a great way to get Knies going in his rookie year.
While he did take a hooking penalty, Knies’ pursuit of the puck was tremendous. Hopefully, he can shy away from any more stick infractions throughout the tournament.
As for Minten and Cowan, both were impressive in their way. Cowan in particular had himself a game against the Stars on Friday night. His motor was running full tilt the entire game and he was a force all over the ice. In the play below, Cowan’s steady play in the defensive zone led to a rush, and then a smart feed led to rubber hitting the back of the net:
Minten scored on a nice one-time shot to get the party started and seems to be coming into his own down the middle of the ice. The former second-round pick will be heading back to junior this season and is expected to dominate every aspect of the game. Minten will likely stick with the big club until the middle of the preseason. It will be great to see how the 19-year-old’s game stacks up against NHL talent.
Once he returns to the Western Hockey League, Minten is expected to be the leader in Kamloops, as he did showcase his new ‘C’ during a preseason game.
While the Maple Leafs will only go as far as the likes of Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner take them, it’s exciting times to see a trio of top prospects have this many tools in their bags. With a hard salary cap world, having young talent on entry-level deals while the team is a Stanley Cup contender is smart business. Expect to see Knies be a huge part of the Leafs this season and compete for the Calder trophy, meanwhile, Cowan and Minten will dominate in junior and are just around the corner. What a time to be alive for Leafs Nation.
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