TLN’s 2023 Offseason Leafs Prospect Rankings: #17 Ryan Tverberg
Photo credit:Steven Ellis
By Nick Richard1 month ago
We have updated the criteria from previous editions of TLN’s prospect rankings regarding who is considered a “prospect” for the purpose of this exercise. Rather than hard and fast limits on age or NHL games played, our group decided on a more nuanced approach to include any reasonably young player who is either under contract with the Leafs or on the club’s reserve list, who has not yet established himself as a full-time NHLer. This includes players such as Matthew Knies and Joseph Woll, who made strong impressions in limited NHL action last season and are expected to make the 2023-24 opening day roster but does not include late-bloomer Bobby McMann, who will also be vying for an NHL roster spot heading into his age-27 season.
TheLeafsNation would also like to acknowledge and honor the memory of 2020 first-round pick Rodion Amirov who tragically passed away after a courageous and inspiring battle against cancer. We offer our sincerest condolences to Rodion’s teammates, friends, and family in this difficult time.
Ryan Tverberg has been one of the more fascinating stories in the Leafs’ system over the last couple of seasons.
The Leafs entered the 2020 draft with an abundance of draft capital, but even after selecting 11 players, they made a move to acquire another seventh-round pick and draft Tverberg out of the OJHL. Toronto’s scouting staff clearly saw some ‘diamond in the rough’ potential in the Richmond Hill native, and he has rewarded their faith in him to this point.
Tverberg’s development path has been an interesting one, to say the least. A relative unknown coming out of the OJHL, the initial plan was for him to spend his draft+1 campaign playing in the BCHL before beginning his collegiate career at Harvard the following season. Just like the rest of the world, however, Tverberg’s plans were turned upside down by the onset of the pandemic.
With the BCHL shut down for the season and Harvard also canceling their winter sports programs, Tverberg was forced to alter course and recommit to the University of Connecticut. He would go on to join the Huskies and begin his NCAA career in the second half of the 2020-21 season, making an impact almost immediately. Tverberg got into just 14 games down the stretch of what was technically his freshman year, but he managed to tally four goals and three assists after nearly an entire year on the sidelines.
Beyond the raw offensive numbers, his play at UConn turned heads, and he was invited to Team Canada’s selection camp for the 2021 World Juniors. Tverberg was ultimately left off the final roster, but working his way into contention for a spot on the team signaled a rapid ascent for a player who had been drafted in the seventh round out of the OJHL just a year prior.
Tverberg continued on that upward trajectory throughout his sophomore year with the Huskies, leading the club with 14 goals while adding 18 assists in 36 games. Last season, he showed his versatility by playing centre more frequently and once again led the team with 15 goals, chipping in 15 helpers over 35 games.
At the conclusion of his junior year, Tverberg was rewarded with an entry-level contract with the Leafs and began his pro career by skating in seven games with the Marlies to close the season. Though he was held off the scoresheet, Tverberg had started generating chances at a higher rate and was looking more comfortable at the AHL level with each passing shift before an injury limited him to just one of the club’s final five games.
Though he was productive in college and showed signs of being a capable offensive contributor in limited AHL action last year, it is the energy and tenacity that Tverberg brings from shift to shift that will help propel him up the Leafs’ organizational depth chart. Likely more of a complementary scoring threat at the pro level, he helps to drive play for his team by pushing the pace and hounding pucks with his speed and motor. He is a strong forechecker with good puck-pursuit tendencies, and he is more than willing to engage physically in order to separate opposing players from the puck.
Tverberg’s speed made him a scoring threat off the rush in college, allowing him to beat defenders to the outside before dropping a shoulder and driving the net. His puck skills aren’t a defining trait, but he has the hands to beat goaltenders one-on-one when he gets near the blue paint. Tverberg has decent size at 6’0″ and 190 pounds, and protects the puck well along the wall. He also shows good instincts to get to the tough areas in the middle of the offensive zone, opening up space for his teammates while positioning himself for scoring opportunities.
There isn’t much of a dynamic quality to Tverberg’s offensive game at this stage of his career, but he sees the ice well and has enough of a scoring touch to capitalize on the opportunities he creates with his speed and work ethic. He is a diligent worker away from the puck as well, and added experience should make him a more reliable defensive presence over time.
Now 21 years of age, Tverberg is gearing up for his first NHL training camp and first full season of professional hockey. He will likely earn a look in some preseason games before joining the Marlies to begin the regular season, where he will be one of a handful of recent draft picks who are entering their first full AHL seasons.
The opportunity is there for Tverberg to carve out a significant role under new Marlies head coach John Gruden. There are sure to be bumps in the road, but Tverberg has a lot of translatable traits to his game, and his style of play is sure to endear him to the coaching staff and fans alike.
A long shot when he was drafted by his hometown club, Tverberg has already overcome the odds, going from being a seventh-round pick out of the OJHL to beginning his professional career after playing just two and a half years of college hockey. He may never become an offensive force in the NHL, and he still needs to refine parts of his game, but Tverberg is a prospect with a relatively high floor who could find himself pushing for a depth role with the Leafs sooner rather than later.
(Statistics from EliteProspects.com)
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