Woll gets the call, Minten continues to impress, Hirvonen heating up: Leafs Prospect Roundup
Photo credit:Steven Ellis/Daily Faceoff
By Nick Richard7 months ago
Ilya Samsonov has taken hold of the number one job in the Leafs’ crease over the last couple of weeks, starting his sixth consecutive game and earning a tidy victory over his former team on Sunday after taking over in relief of Matt Murray against Florida back on January 17th. Murray was slated to start Friday’s game against the Senators, but an ankle injury that he has been dealing with flared up in the warmup, forcing Samsonov into action at the last minute.
After both goalies were given the day off on Saturday, it was announced prior to Sunday’s game that Joseph Woll had been recalled from the Marlies on an emergency basis, signaling that Murray is unavailable for the time being. Woll missed the beginning of the season recovering from an injury of his own, but he has been lights out for the Marlies since returning to action in late November, surpassing Erik Källgren on the depth chart in the process.
Woll has been nothing short of stellar for the Marlies this season, setting the franchise record for consecutive wins when he came away victorious in each of his first 11 starts. For the season, he owns a record of 12-1-0 to go along with a 2.46 GAA and a .928 SV% – by far the best stretch of his AHL career.
The Leafs would surely like to get another look at their 2016 third-rounder in NHL games with the way he has played, especially considering he will require waivers to be assigned back to the AHL starting next season. The timing of Murray’s absence may prevent that, however, and with just one game remaining before an extended break, Woll might have to wait a bit longer for his next NHL opportunity. Samsonov will almost certainly start Wednesday’s game against the Atlantic Division-leading Boston Bruins, and then the Leafs don’t play again until the following Friday when they visit Columbus.
Woll will likely be reassigned to the Marlies following Wednesday’s game, and he is slated to represent the North Division in the AHL All-Star Classic next weekend. He has certainly earned that honor with his play this season, and he has likely earned an NHL start or two as well. His path to playing time will depend on the health of Murray, as well as Samsonov, down the stretch drive, but Woll has done everything in his power to prove he is ready for another opportunity with the Leafs.
Fraser Minten | C | Kamloops (WHL)
Minten was scorching hot at the end of November, recording nine goals in five games, including back-to-back hat tricks against Kelowna. He cooled off in January, going seven games without scoring a goal, though he did register six assists over that span. It appears that he is heating up again, and after a big weekend, he now has four goals and an assist in his last three games.
The Blazers’ lineup has undergone significant changes over the last few weeks as they load up for a run at the WHL Championship and the Memorial Cup, and it appears that they are starting to gel, winning six of their last eight games. Minten has been moved around the lineup a bit, but he has managed to find a way to make a positive impact for his club, and the points continue to pile up for him.
Minten has already surpassed last season’s goal total, now with 23 goals and 22 assists in just 34 games. He is on pace to cruise his point total from his draft year as well while playing fewer games after missing time with a wrist injury suffered at Leafs camp. There has been some concern about his reliance on the powerplay, but he has been driving play at even strength all season, and the 5v5 production has increased over the last few weeks. Of his four goals last week, three of them came at even strength.
It was considered a bit of a reach when the Leafs selected Minten with the 38th overall pick last summer, but he has proven worthy of that draft slot with his play so far this season, tapping into the potential the organization raved about on draft day. There is still a long way to go, but Minten looks like a future NHL pivot with his size, strong two-way play, and offensive skill. You can bet that his name will come up in plenty of trade discussions as the Leafs look to improve their roster ahead of the trade deadline.
Roni Hirvonen | C/W | HIFK (Liiga)
Things started off slowly for Hirvonen this season, but he has been hot as of late, drawing him nearer to his offensive production from last season. After recording just 14 points in his first 33 games, Hirvonen has tallied five points in his last five games and seven in his last ten.
Hirvonen had been generating offensive chances for his line and notched a handful of assists but went eight games without finding the back of the net until Saturday’s win when he netted his 10th and 11th goals of the season. He is now tied for the team lead in goals and sits fifth among U21 Liiga skaters.
HIFK has struggled to produce offense all season long, and that has impacted Hirvonen’s output, but he has been a leading contributor for his club at just 20 years of age. Now in his fourth Liiga season, Hirvonen has a wealth of pro experience for his age, and the Leafs are hoping that helps to ease the transition to North American hockey as he appears set to join the Marlies whenever HIFK’s season comes to an end.
Hirvonen’s stock may have dropped a little in the eyes of outside observers, but he still looks like a legitimate NHL prospect. He makes up the high-end of Toronto’s strong middle-tier of prospects, and while that may not be enough to land an impact player on its own, Hirvonen could be of interest to teams as a strong secondary piece in any potential deadline deals.
Notes from the rest of the prospect pool:
- It was another solid weekend for Matt Knies as the Minnesota Golden Gophers beat up on Michigan State. He notched his 16th goal of the season in Friday’s 8-0 win before adding another goal and an assist in Saturday’s 6-3 victory. He now has 30 points in 28 games so far this season as the Gophers head into a bye week.
- Nick Moldenhauer had a nice weekend despite a couple of losses for the Chicago Steel. He picked up a goal and an assist in Saturday’s 6-2 loss and added a pair of helpers on Sunday as the Steel fell to the NTDP’s U18 team in overtime. The Leafs’ 2022 third-rounder has been incredibly consistent all season long, going more than a game without a point just once, and now has 16 goals to go along with 26 assists in 32 games.
- Just another casual three-point weekend for Ty Voit as the Sarnia Sting extended their winning streak to four games. Voit has been a star in the OHL all season long but was finally overtaken in the race for the league-scoring title by New York Islanders prospect Matthew Maggio. He now trails by a single point with 12 goals and 55 assists through 43 games this season.
- Semyon Der-Arguchintsev ended a four-game pointless drought with his ninth goal of the season on Friday in a win over Manitoba and added an assist in a losing effort on Sunday. SDA has now surpassed his point total from his rookie season in 11 fewer games, while also showing notable improvement in his play away from the puck.
- Alex Steeves also had a decent weekend, notching a goal and an assist in two games against Manitoba. Steeves has been overlooked for an NHL opportunity so far this season but with Bobby McMann reassigned to the Marlies on Sunday, he could be next in line for a run in Toronto’s bottom-six. He’s got 14 goals and 21 assists in 42 games this season.
- Ryan Tverberg scored his team-leading 12th goal of the season as UConn defeated Yale by a score of 6-1. It has been a rough few weeks for Tverberg in terms of offensive production but he now has two goals and an assist in his last three games.
- 2022 fifth-rounder Nikita Grebyonkin has exceeded expectations ever since being loaned to Amur Khabarovsk earlier this season and he just keeps looking more comfortable at the KHL level. He scored two goals and an assist in last Monday’s win over fellow Leafs prospect Dmitry Ovchinnikov and Sibir, then followed that up with a penalty shot goal and a nice shootout tally the next time out. Grebyonkin now has eight goals and 13 assists in 36 games with Amur – enough to lead all U20 KHL players in scoring.
- Artur Akhtyamov started a pair of games last week, stopping 30 of 31 in a 4-1 win before surrendering three goals on 32 shots in Saturday’s loss. His numbers continue to sparkle in this latter stage of the season, currently owning a .944 SV% through 34 games.
- Matt Knies wasn’t the only Leafs prospect to have a big weekend for the Gophers against Michigan State. The Leafs’ 2019 fifth-round pick, blueliner Mike Koster, had a goal and two assists on Friday before adding another assist from the back end on Saturday. With four points on the weekend, he has established a new career-high in points at the NCAA level with two goals and 15 assists through 28 games.
(Statistics from EliteProspects.com)
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