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Last week, I wrote about Rasmus Sandin’s injury and the prospect of him missing significant time. The organization’s fears were confirmed this week when it was revealed that Sandin had suffered a fracture in his foot as the result of a blocked shot and the Leafs have announced that he will be reevaluated next month.
As was the case when Nick Robertson’s early season injury coincided with a spot opening up due to Joe Thornton suffering an injury of his own, the timing was made more unfortunate when Jake Muzzin was hit with a stick and fractured a bone in his face on the weekend. Though Mikko Lehtonen is still ahead of him on the depth chart and Muzzin’s absence isn’t expected to be long term, it would have been a chance to get Sandin some more NHL reps after he played well in his lone appearance this season – albeit in very limited minutes.
Sandin hasn’t been able to play much hockey in the last year but hopefully he is able to bounce back and round into form as the season winds down, providing the Leafs with another option on the blue line as they push towards the playoffs where they will surely be forced to rely on their depth if they are to make a deep run.
Enough preamble, let’s get to it.
Nick Robertson – LW – Toronto Marlies (AHL)
Robertson is still awaiting another opportunity with the Leafs but he is putting his time in the AHL to good use in the early going. After starting the season with three points in the first two games, Robertson has added another four assists in the five games since. A couple of those assists, however, were the result of some fortunate bounces and he hasn’t been generating offense at even strength to the point where it is undeniable that he should be called up right now. He also got into a bit of penalty trouble last time out, including a roughing call after the horn sounded to end the second period and a holding penalty with the Marlies pushing to tie the game in the dying minutes. There is still no certainty regarding when the OHL season will begin and while the Leafs will want to get a look at him in the NHL before then, continuing to round out his game and adjust to the professional pace with the Marlies isn’t the worst thing for Robertson right now. There is still a good chance he makes his way into the Leafs lineup relatively soon.
Adam Brooks – C – Toronto Marlies (AHL)
Set to turn 25 years old in May, Brooks is barely hanging on to “prospect” status but he is still a valued member of the Leafs’ organization. He is a player that Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe has spoken highly of in the past and has a familiarity with from their time together with the Marlies. Brooks got into one game with the Leafs earlier this season, scoring his first NHL goal, and is a likely candidate to be called up if the Leafs suffer an injury to one of their bottom six centers at some point. In the meantime, he is leading the charge for the Marlies with two goals and five assists while playing upwards of 20 minutes a night through seven games.
Dmitri Ovchinnikov – C/W – Sibir Novosibirsk (KHL)
It took a few months and a whole lot of offensive production in the MHL for Ovchinnikov to finally earn something of a regular role with his KHL squad and in his 13th game of the season, he finally registered his first career KHL point. He is still seeing limited ice time and trying to find his way against much more difficult competition than he has seen to this point in his career but he can’t get by on pure skill the way he did in the MHL. Ovchinnikov needs to continue to work on the finer details of his game while adding strength and gaining experience against more mature opponents. Finally getting onto the scoresheet at Russia’s top level has got to feel good for the kid, though.
Filip Hallander – LW – Lulea (SHL)
Hallander recently suited up for Sweden at the Euro Hockey Tour tournament, picking up one goal over three contests while playing second line minutes. He has been back with Lulea for four games since then and had a two point performance earlier this week, picking up a goal and an assist in a 5-4 loss to Djurgarden. For the season, Hallander has 10 goals and 10 assists in 43 games for one of the SHL’s top teams.
Wyatt Schingoethe – C – Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL)
Selected by the Leafs in the seventh round of the 2020 draft, Schingoethe hasn’t taken the offensive step he or the Leafs had hoped for in his third USHL season. He has chipped in a bit more lately with three points in his last two games, bringing his season totals to eight goals and six assists in 23 games. It is always a long road for these late round picks and Schingoethe will continue on his developmental path in the NCAA next season, where he has recently committed to play for Western Michigan University.
Joe Miller – C – Chicago Steel (USHL)
I’ve been fortunate enough to catch Miller a few times this season while scouting some of his teammates that are eligible for the 2021 NHL draft and I’ve been impressed with the undersized center. He put up big numbers playing high school hockey in his home state of Minnesota during his draft year but the USHL is a step up and he has adjusted well in the early going. The production doesn’t jump off the page – he has three goals and six assists through 20 games – but his speed and offensive creativity are starting to shine through more and more with each passing game for the Steel. Another “wait and see” type of prospect, Miller’s small stature will be something he has to overcome but there are some intriguing offensive skills there.