Niemelä finds twine, help on the way for Minten & Voit, Woll stays hot: Leafs Prospect Roundup
By Nick Richard8 months ago
The Leafs picked up a convincing road win against Philadelphia in their 41st game of the campaign on Sunday night, marking the official halfway point in the regular season. Most of the prospects we’ve been following here each week are also gearing up for the stretch drive of the season, making it an ideal time to take a look at the bigger picture that is the Leafs’ prospect pipeline.
Later today, we will be kicking off TLN’s 2022-23 Midseason Leafs Prospect Rankings by profiling a few honorable mentions who just missed out on cracking the organization’s top-20 prospects. The rest of the week will feature a countdown of the top-20 so with plenty of prospect coverage on the way, this week’s Leafs Prospect Roundup will be a quick hit edition.
Let’s get to it.
- Matt Knies and the Minnesota Golden Gophers split a weekend set against fellow Leafs prospect Veeti Miettinen and the St. Cloud State Huskies. Knies had his usual center back by his side as Logan Cooley returned from the World Juniors, and after being held off the scoreboard in a shutout loss on Saturday, they teamed up to give the Gophers an early lead on Sunday. Knies posted up in front of the net on the powerplay and redirected a perfect pass from Cooley into the back of the net for his 12th goal and 23rd point in 22 games this season. Miettinen was held without a point in both games.
- Topi Niemelä scored his fifth goal of the season in a 4-3 overtime victory on Saturday. The goal showcased his strong shot as he pounced on a clean faceoff win and wasted little time firing the puck into the back of the net. Niemelä is up to five goals and five assists in 35 games with Kärpät so far this season.
- The Kamloops Blazers had a pair of games against Kelowna over the weekend, with Fraser Minten picking up an assist in Saturday’s 5-1 win. After a five-game stretch that saw him score nine goals and three assists, he has tallied two assists in his last three games. For the season, Minten is up to 19 goals and 18 assists in 27 games. With Logan Stankoven and Caedan Bankier back from winning World Junior gold, it could potentially open up some more favorable matchups for Minten than he has seen in their absence. The Blazers will also be getting another huge boost after the club announced on Sunday evening that they had acquired World Junior star Olen Zellweger and overage forward Ryan Hofer in a massive trade with the Everett Silvertips. Set to host the Memorial Cup later this spring, The Blazers’ brass is going all-in.
- Roni Hirvonen extended his goal-scoring streak to three games with his ninth tally of the campaign on Thursday but was held off the scoresheet in just over 15 minutes of ice time on Saturday. Following a bit of a slow start, he has five of his 15 points for the season in the last seven games.
- Ty Voit has been piling up points at a remarkable rate all season long, including a pair of two-point games over the weekend, and he’s going to have some help as he looks to maintain his lead in the OHL scoring race in the second half. Sarnia is loading up for a run and, following their acquisition of Christian Kyrou a few weeks ago, made a pair of big trades with Mississauga last week to bring Canadian World Junior assistant captain Ethan Del Mastro and Blue Jackets’ second-rounder Luca Del Bel Belluz. Del Bel Belluz lined up as the first-line center alongside Voit in his first game with the Sting, providing the Leafs’ fifth-rounder with a dynamic offensive threat to work with.
- After picking up three assists in two games over the weekend, Nick Moldenhauer is now riding a 10-game point streak, registering four goals and 12 assists over that span. He hasn’t missed a beat since returning from injury and is now up to 14 goals and 21 assists in just 25 games for Chicago in the USHL.
- Alex Steeves scored a goal in Tuesday’s overtime victory against Utica and added another goal to go along with an assist in Sunday’s 4-2 win over Laval. Steeves has been a consistent offensive weapon for the Marlies all season, currently with 12 goals and 19 assists in 33 games. The Leafs have a good thing going in their bottom-six right now, but if injuries arise, don’t be surprised if Steeves is the next one to get an opportunity with the big club.
- Speaking of that win over Laval on Sunday, Joseph Woll continued his fantastic season with a huge bounce-back performance. After giving up four goals on 31 shots against Utica on Tuesday, he stopped 56 of the 58 shots Laval fired at him for a well-earned victory. The win pushed his record to 8-0-0 for the season, tying the Marlies record for most consecutive wins by a goaltender. The sample size is starting to get a little bigger, and Woll’s .934 SV% has put him back in the conversation as the Leafs’ number three goaltender.
- Nick Abruzzese scored a goal and an assist in Saturday’s shootout victory over Lehigh Valley and added another assist against Laval on Sunday. He’s had a decent first professional season with nine goals and 13 assists in his first 33 games with the Marlies.
- Nikita Grebyonkin is looking more and more comfortable in the KHL. He picked up an assist on Tuesday, scored a goal on Thursday, and then added another helper in Friday’s 1-0 victory over Barys Astana. He now has points in his last four games and is up to five goals and 10 assists in 28 games since being loaned to Amur. Producing at over a half-point-per-game game pace in the KHL as a teenager is impressive no matter how you slice it, and Grebyonkin seems to be getting better as the season goes along.
- Artur Akhtyamov added another win to his record in a 4-3 shootout victory on Saturday, stopping 34 of the 37 shots he faced in regulation and overtime. The win came on the heels of an overtime loss on Thursday in which he surrendered three goals on 30 shots. Even after an up-and-down week, Akhtyamov leads the VHL with an eye-popping .946 SV%.
- In his first game since Christmas Day, Vyacheslav Peksa allowed three goals on 33 shots as Bars were defeated 3-0. For the season, Peksa has a 12-15-4 record with a .920 SV%.
- Braeden Kressler has been on a bit of a tear for Flint, currently riding a seven-game, 12-point streak. He scored four goals in three games this past week, bringing him to 18 goals and 16 assists in 26 games on the season.
(Statistics from EliteProspects.com)
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