The Toronto Maple Leafs have finally fully committed to rebuilding their organization and turning the franchise back in the direction of respectability. They have hired a top notch management team with a solid mixture of youth and experience which is arguably the envy of the league today.
They went out and landed the coveted coach the franchise hasn’t had for a very long time. However, the biggest change that needed to occur was with the players themselves. Too long were the cupboards bare with no prospects and picks. This has also begun to change, and after last June’s draft, the Maple Leafs appear to have a solid stable of young talent in the pipeline once again.
Developing their young prospects is the most important way, the Maple Leafs will launch themselves into the future. In that spirit, I take a look at three of the Leafs top prospects right now and where they stand in their development.
It's a good time to be a @MapleLeafs prospect. Nylander leading AHL in points, Marner 3rd in OHL points, and Timashov is 3rd in QMJHL in pts
— Dan Stratton (@stratta) December 5, 2015
Mitch Marner: London Knights
When the Maple Leafs took Marner fourth overall this past draft, they knew they were getting one heck of a player. The current co-captain of the Knights has excelled in his first season since being drafted and has put up 50 points in only 23 games. He most recently put up a cool three goals against the Windsor Spitfires in OHL action.
Marner is one of the future leaders and superstars of the Leafs franchise. He’s got amazing skill, great hustle and compete levels, and is willing and able to play well in any of the three zones on the ice.
The former fourth overall pick is more likely than not a lock to represent Canada at the 2015-16 World Juniors which is fast approaching. The young pivot has all the talent to one day succeed in the NHL. The Leafs look to have drafted a stud and should his development stay on track, his exploits will be making fans very happy.
William Nylander: Toronto Marlies
The slick Swede was the first real piece of the long awaited Leafs rebuild. Taken with the eighth overall pic, the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, Nylander, represented the first bit of a really exciting future for the organization and its rabid fan base. Despite being only 19-years-old, the talented Swede is leading the American Hockey League in scoring with 26 points.
Nylander is fast, crafty, and has all the tools to really make an impact in the NHL. His drafting by the Maple Leafs really signalled a new way of thinking. It was a departure of the Brian Burke philosophy that would always emphasize size and toughness. Today, the philosophy is to draft speed and skill, especially because the league appears to be trending in that direction.
Nylander is also in a unique position for the upcoming World Juniors. He’s eligible to represent Sweden and will most likely be released by the Marlies to do so. If he is granted this opportunity, Nylander becomes an immediate threat to lead the tournament in scoring. He had ten points in seven games in the tournament last year.
Dmytro Timashov: Quebec Remparts
Dmytro Timashov has a very unique hockey background. The Ukrainian-born Swede has spent time playing in both the Swedish Hockey League as well as the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League where he currently plays for the Quebec Remparts. The Maple Leafs were able to acquire the talented youngster with the 125th overall pick in this past draft.
That late selection is turning out to be a complete steal for the Blue and White. Maybe Timashov slipped because of his background. Maybe he wasn’t scouted nearly enough. He’s currently the Maple Leafs gain and has looked outstanding so far this season.
He’s a product of the new regime’s way of drafting as the young forward is fast, explosive, and very dangerous. He’s displayed excellent puckhandling skills that allow him to open up room for himself and his teammates on the ice. He’s got speed to burn and has been wowing everyone who has came to see him play. He’s no slouch in the scoring department either and currently has 50 points in 27 games this year.
Timashov was also elected to tryout for Sweden at the upcoming World Juniors. If both Timashov and Nylander make the team, it could make for an interesting and very entertaining tournament for hockey fans and especially Leaf fans across the world.