NICK ROBERTSON 🚨🚨
he does it again! pic.twitter.com/tdd52mOGD4
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) October 1, 2022
Sheldon Keefe says Nick Robertson’s last two preseason games were the best he’s seen him play as a Leaf.
— Jonas Siegel (@jonassiegel) October 2, 2022
Matthew Knies | W | Minnesota (NCAA)
— Nick Richard (@_NickRichard) October 2, 2022
Matthew Knies bringing the BOOM. pic.twitter.com/xvEcnDm9Df
— Sticks in the 6ix Podcast (@StixInThe6ixPod) October 2, 2022
Topi Niemelä | RHD | Kärpät (Liiga)
#Leafs prospect update (1/3)
Big game for 🇫🇮 Topi Niemela. Played a season-high 23:19 in a 7-6 OTL against JYP. Had a primary assist on a nice keep at the blue line, finished a +1, and had 5 SOG
Season totals (Liiga): 6 GP, 1 PT, 18:43 ATOI pic.twitter.com/TDPMyfdfeA
— Kyle Cushman (@Kyle_Cush) September 29, 2022
Nicholas Moldenhauer | C/W | Chicago (USHL)
#Leafs prospect update (1/5):
Get on the Moldenhauer bandwagon early, folks. The 2022 3rd-round pick had a massive game for Chicago, scoring 2 goals and a primary assist in a 7-4 win over Sioux City. pic.twitter.com/77KQdJpeOr
— Kyle Cushman (@Kyle_Cush) September 24, 2022
Notes from the rest of the prospect pool
- Toronto’s first selection from the 2022 draft, Fraser Minten, had his first NHL training camp cut short due to a wrist injury. He was almost certainly ticketed for a return to junior regardless, but any time spent skating with the big club is valuable for a young player, and he showed well in his lone preseason outing. Suiting up against the Senators, he saw just over 12 minutes of ice time, won 57% of his faceoffs, fired a shot on goal, landed a couple of hits, and finished +4.It remains to be seen just how much time Minten will miss to begin the season, but he is destined for a prominent role with Kamloops whenever he gets healthy. He attended Team Canada’s summer evaluation camp for the upcoming World Juniors, and the hope is that he can get back on the ice with enough time to ramp up and earn a spot representing his country this holiday season.
John Tavares on Fraser Minten: “A very heady player. Smart. Just a joy to be around. I think he’s a tremendous kid; A great kid. I think we have a good one in him.”
— David Alter (@dalter) September 26, 2022
- Pontus Holmberg has also made a name for himself through the early days of his first NHL training camp, regularly centering William Nylander and looking the part of an NHL player in the process. He has been held off the scoresheet through three games but his effectiveness on the forecheck and efficiency moving the puck have stood out in a positive way. Holmberg may never be a big time offensive contributor in the NHL, but he looks like a solid two-way pivot who can chip in with a bit of secondary scoring down the road.
- Roni Hirvonen set career-highs in both goals and assists after moving to a new club last season, and he has been productive early on for HIFK again this season. Through eight games, he has tallied a goal and three assists, with most of that coming since he was moved up the lineup. He began the season in a third line center role but has since been elevated to a top-six wing spot, and that’s where he appears more comfortable.
#Leafs prospect update (1/3):
🇫🇮 Roni Hirvonen shifted back to LW and was on the top line for HIFK in a 4-3 OTW. Scored his first goal of the season, a distant secondary assist on the OT winner, and had 2 SOG in 17:03 TOI
Season totals (Liiga): 6 GP, 1 G, 3 PTS pic.twitter.com/q1h18GFv8g
— Kyle Cushman (@Kyle_Cush) September 28, 2022
- Ryan Tverberg was one of the biggest stories in the world of Leafs prospects last season, and he is off to another strong start so far in 2022-23. After lining up as a winger almost exclusively last year, he has been playing center so far this season as he takes on a larger role in his junior season. The move has worked through two games, and Tverberg picked up a goal and an assist in two games on the opening weekend of UConn’s season.
- Another bright spot from last season, Ty Voit has picked up where he left off last year with the Sarnia Sting – with one key difference. He played center for much of last season but has been moved back to the wing so far this season. Voit has the skill set to play in the middle of the ice, but his lack of size and strength is less of a hindrance on the wing, where he isn’t relied upon so much defensively. Through two games, it hasn’t affected his offensive output, and he already has a pair of goals to go along with two assists.
- Veeti Miettinen had a great freshman season for St. Cloud State in 2020-21 but took a bit of a step back last year. He is off to a scorching start so far in 2022-23, however, with a goal and three assists in his first two games. Now a veteran with the Huskies, Miettinen will be looked to as a primary contributor in his junior season. If he is able to live up to that and return to the form he displayed as a freshman, he will be a candidate for an entry level contract with the Leafs next spring.
#LeafsForever prospect Veeti Miettinen scored his first goal of the season on Sunday. After a bit of a down year in 2021-22, he’s got four points through his first two games to begin the season. pic.twitter.com/492qjMttLt
— Nick Richard (@_NickRichard) October 3, 2022
- Mike Koster, a 2019 fifth-round pick and teammate of Matthew Knies at Minnesota, is also off to a hot start offensively. He picked up a goal and an assist in Sunday’s 6-4 win over Lindenwood. Koster is now in his third college season and this will be a big season for him in terms of his chances of earning an entry level contract. The Leafs hold his rights until the summer of 2024, but with fresh faces joining the Leafs’ system, Koster will be looking to stand out this season.
- Netminder Artur Akhtyamov had a difficult ending to his 2021-22 campaign and lost his starting job to fellow Leafs prospect Vladislav Peksa early in the MHL playoffs after spending most of the season playing up a level in the VHL. He has been loaned to another VHL club this season and has been fantastic through the early part of the season for Neftyanik. He is 3-3-1 through seven appearances, sporting a stellar 1.70 GAA and .940 SV%.
#Leafs prospect update (1/3)
🇷🇺 Artur Akhtyamov stopped 28/31 in a 6-3 win against Molot. Seems to be the clear starter now with multiple starts in a row
Season totals (VHL): 6 GP, 3-3-0, .940 SV%, 1.70 GAA pic.twitter.com/gfUCu9slFs
— Kyle Cushman (@Kyle_Cush) September 30, 2022
- Peksa has been nearly as good taking over for Akhtyamov with Bars Kazan in the VHL. Through the first six VHL appearances of his career, the 20-year-old Peksa is 3-2-1 with a 2.21 GAA and .929 SV%. He was one of the top netminders in the Russian junior league last season, and he has been able to carry that over to the pro level so far this season. Like most goaltenders, Akhtyamov and Peksa are long-term projects, but the Leafs appear to have a couple of viable goaltending prospects in the pipeline with these two.
- It hasn’t gone as well for 2022 fourth-round pick Dennis Hildeby thus far in 2022-23. He has only gotten into two games for Färjestad, but he has given up eight goals on just 51 shots and has ceded most of the playing time to Canadian Olympian Matt Tomkins. It’s still early, however, and there is plenty of time for Hildeby to get on track and find the form that saw him put up a .931 SV% through seven SHL games last season.
- 2022 seventh-rounder Brandon Lisowsky was a big-time goal scorer for Saskatoon in the WHL last season, but he has been getting it done as a playmaker so far this season. He hasn’t found the back of the net through his first three games, but he has managed four assists. Learning to better utilize his teammates and diversify his offensive attack was an area of focus for Lisowsky heading into the season, and the early returns have been encouraging.
- Sandin and Engvall arrive, some fresh lines, cuts loom: Leafs Camp Report by Jon Steitzer
- Five PTO D for the Leafs to potentially target by Nick Alberga
- Mitch Marner and the position-less Toronto Maple Leafs by James Reeve