The Toronto Maple Leafs are officially through the first season of their rebuild.
However, plenty of work was already underway far before the 2015-16 season. Through drafts, the Leafs had stockpiled some valuable prospects in their system. Most notably, William Nylander and Mitch Marner, both of whom were top 10 picks, are looked upon as game-changers. They are the players which the rebuild would revolve around.
Beyond the first round selections, there are additional prospects which the Leafs have accreted together via mid and late round draft picks.
Two specific players to note would be Dmytro Timashov and Andreas Johnson. Timashov was the 125th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, while Johnson was selected 202nd overall at the 2013 NHL Draft.
Both prospects played their junior hockey in Sweden, and may have slipped under the radar of some NHL teams as a result. But, the Leafs saw some kids with promising potential and decided to use a couple of their late round picks to acquire them.
Dmytro Timashov – 125th Overall in 2015
Timashov was born in Ukraine but has dual citizenship with Sweden. He grew up playing all of his minor hockey in Sweden, most recently with MODO. Heading into his NHL Draft-eligible season, Timashov faced a tough decision of where to play, in Europe or North America. In the end, he chose to come to the CHL, and the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL selected him in the CHL Import Draft.
Timashov was able to adapt to the game almost seamlessly. He became a reliable winger for the Remparts who could contribute offensively. Lucky for him, he would earn a great amount of exposure in Quebec as they were the hosts of the 2015 Memorial Cup.
At the end of the season, Timashov racked up 19 goals, 71 assists and 90 points in 66 games. He would go on to add three goals and 18 points in 22 playoff games before scoring yet another three goals and four points in five dramatic Memorial Cup games.
Timashov established himself as an elite playmaker who had the speed and smarts to rack up points. He has great hands and creativity which allows him to create space for himself and his teammates.
Despite the offensive contributions, Timashov entered the draft expected to go in the fourth or fifth round — and that he did when he Leafs selected him at 125th overall.
This season, Timashov started out blazing hot. In his first 29 games, he scored 18 goals and 53 points before being traded to a contending team in the Shawinigan Cataractes. However, his production would sharply decline with his new squad, scoring just four goals and 32 points over 28 games. Fortunately, Timashov would heat up in time for the playoffs, adding 12 goals and 25 points in 19 games thus far. His Cataractes are currently battling in the QMJHL Finals.
Timashov continues to climb the Leafs’ depth charts as an elite playmaking winger who uses excellent vision and knowledge of the game to create scoring chances. He could certainly improve his defensive game and bulk up, currently standing at 5 feet 10 inches and 187 pounds.
But as he climbs the charts, he continues to grow as a steal by the Leafs in the fifth round. He certainly possesses great talent and offensive abilities, and could become a difference maker in the NHL someday.
Andreas Johnson – 202nd Overall in 2013
Like Timashov, Johnson grew up in Sweden. He played his minor hockey with Frolunda HC, eventually joining the SuperElit league and then the SHL, Sweden’s top league.
During his draft year in 2013, Johnson remained relatively unheard of by most NHL teams, while the ones who did know of him didn’t expect very much. That year was his second with Frolunda HC J20 of the SuperElit league, and Johnson would develop very well, scoring 23 goals and 54 points in 42 games, good for second in league scoring.
Johnson had developed into a quick-skating winger with exciting hands. He had the vision to set up plays and also a quick release to pot some pucks himself.
Nonetheless, Johnson went unranked by most scouting outlets despite a very promising season. So you could imagine he was quite excited to hear the Leafs had selected him with the 202nd overall pick.
Fast forward three years and Johnson has become an exciting player in Sweden. He has now completed his third SHL season and made vast improvements each year. His point totals have jumped from 24 as a rookie, to 35, and now to 44 in 2015-16. In a very defensive-minded league, Johnson finished sixth in goals and fifth in points.
Johnson continues to develop well, now featuring a mature shot which makes him a reliable goal scorer. He is a complete winger who can play in all situations responsibly. Like Timashov, Johnson is a smaller player, standing at 5 feet 10 inches and 183 pounds. Some extra strength would do wonders for his game in North America.
The Leafs are anxious to see how Johnson performs in the North American game and have officially brought the Swede over, though has yet to make his debut with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies in their playoff run.
In all, Johnson has come a long way since his draft year, now representing an exciting part of the Leafs rebuild. For the 202nd pick, he has surprised the Leafs and looks ready to surprise the NHL as well, showing he may be one of the steals of the 2013 NHL Draft.