Maple Leafs’ Prospect Report: Akhtyamov, Hildeby & Kokkonen

Hockey season is heating up and leagues around the globe are getting under way. While some of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ prospects are still showcasing themselves in Traverse City at the prospects tournament, others have kicked off their campaigns overseas and are turning heads with their respective teams.

Toronto Maple Leafs Prospect Report Marlies Newfoundland Growlers KHL, NCAA and SHL
Toronto Maple Leafs Prospect Report (The Hockey Writers)

With that said, this edition of the Maple Leafs prospect report will focus on goaltending this week — both in Traverse City as well as the VHL where one prospect picked up their first shutout of the season.

So, here’s what’s cooking when it comes to the Maple Leafs’ pipeline.

Artur Akhtyamov Off to a Strong Start

While his win-loss record isn’t showing a winning record just yet, Maple Leafs’ prospect Artur Akhtyamov is off to another solid start in the VHL where he is on load with Neftyanik Almetievsk. The 21-year-old has a 1-2-0 record through his first three games, but carries a 2.02 goals against average (GAA) and .933 save percentage (SV%) to kick off the season.

To add to that, the Maple Leafs’ fourth-round pick in 2020 tallied his first shutout of the season on Sept. 15, stopping all 26 shots in a 3-0 win against Buran Voronezh.

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Akhtyamov has signed his entry-level contract (ELC) with the Maple Leafs and is coming off a season in which he posted a 20-12-6 record in 39 games for Neftyanik Almetievsk in 2022-23. That went along with his 1.74 GAA and .943 SV% before he posted even better numbers in the playoffs — aside from his record.

Akhtyamov is on loan from the KHL’s Ak Bars Kazan and while there’s no guarantee he’ll play in Russia’s top league, his development seems to be on the right track at the moment.

Dennis Hildeby Turning Heads in Traverse City

As for another Maple Leafs’ goaltending prospect, Dennis Hildeby took home the win in the team’s second outing in Traverse City against the Dallas Stars’ prospects on Sept. 15. The fourth-round pick from 2022 stopped 30 of 31 shots he faced as the Maple Leafs’ prospects took home the 5-1 victory in a game that saw Hildeby get better as the game went on.

Dennis Hildeby Toronto Maple Leafs
Dennis Hildeby, Toronto Maple Leafs (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

While he looked a little nervous to open up the game, Hildeby’s composure took over and he locked down his crease in a big way as it progressed. Once he settled in, he made some big stops, including one on a dangerous partial break by Antonio Stranges early in the third period.

Overall, he had good movements in his net and looked strong on both sides, flashing his glove a couple of times throughout the game.

Related: Maple Leafs’ Fraser Minten Showing Leadership in Traverse City

The 22-year-old is coming off a strong campaign on loan with Färjestad BK of the SHL where he finished with a 11-9-0 record in 21 games to go along with a 2.26 GAA and .918 SV%. His numbers weren’t as great in two games with the Toronto Marlies to finish the year, but that should change — especially when you take into consideration just how intimidating his size is by today’s goalie standards.

Mikko Kokkonen Shone in Win Over the Stars

Finally, the Maple Leafs’ third-round pick from 2019, Mikko Kokkonen, made some noise in the win over the Stars on Friday. While he’s not particularly known for his offensive production, Kokkonen finished with a goal and two assists in the 5-1 victory.

The 22-year-old left-handed defenceman has spent the majority of his career in Finland, but made the jump to North America and the Toronto Marlies last season where he posted six assists in 36 regular season games.

Related: Maple Leafs’ Prospect Report – Grebyonkin, Cowan & Traverse City

As mentioned, while he might not be known for his offensive production, Kokkonen offers the Maple Leafs some depth on the blue line and reliability in his play. He has a physical element to his game and this tournament should be an opportunity for him to make his presence felt for the Maple Leafs’ brass.

As for the Maple Leafs, they’ll get set to open up the preseason in the coming weeks with not many openings on their opening night roster. That said, we’ll continue to take a closer look at the team’s pipeline as the season progresses as the future of the Maple Leafs might just be an unexpected prospect.

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