The Toronto Maple Leafs have a wealth of talented up and coming prospects. Many of these players are embroiled in the Calder Cup playoffs, where the best American Hockey League teams duke it out.
The Marlies of the last few years have produced some great players who have gone on to have a huge initial impact at the NHL level. A perfect example is this past season. The Maple Leafs iced as many as nine rookies a night and almost all of them have AHL experience.
The biggest names include William Nylander, Zach Hyman, Connor Brown, Connor Carrick, Kasperi Kapanen, Nikita Soshnikov and Frederik Gauthier. Most of those skaters have graduated to the big club, so it’s time to take a look at the next generation of Marlies who are looking to make the leap.
The slick Swede was drafted back in the seventh round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. He’s spent most of his time playing in his native Sweden for Frolunda HC of the Swedish Hockey League.
He’s a decorated winner in terms of Swedish hockey and has won gold at essentially every level, with the biggest award being the SHL championship, which he captured with Frolunda during the 2015-16 season.
Here are tonight's @scotiahockey Game Highlights from the #Marlies 5-3 victory over the Crunch.https://t.co/uhS2hjgBSF#MarliesLive
— Toronto Marlies (@TorontoMarlies) May 10, 2017
After winning the title he came over to North America where he got his first taste of action with the Marlies. He appeared in two playoff games but failed to register a point.
Johnsson spent this past season with the Marlies and has been an excellent addition to the squad. He scored 20 goals and 47 points in 75 regular season games and has been a solid contributor in the playoffs as well, where he has five goals in seven games.
He’s been a reliable presence for the Marlies all year long and should he keep up his consistent play, he could see himself in the big leagues sooner rather than later.
What hasn’t already been said about Kasperi Kapanen? He spent most of the year with the Marlies and despite getting injured, came back strong and made his case as the Leafs best prospect.
The speedy Finn was called up late in the year by the Leafs and ended up scoring some massive goals for the Blue and White. The biggest one was his double overtime winner against the Washington Capitals in round one of the postseason.
Kapanen is no stranger to scoring clutch goals, as he potted the gold medal overtime goal in the 2016 World Junior Championship. The moment was made even more special by the fact that he won it for Finland on home soil.
Kapanen has speed to burn and the offensive instincts to put the puck in the back of the net. He’s also a solid penalty killer, a trait that Leafs head coach Mike Babcock highly values.
Originally acquired in the deal that sent Phil Kessel to the Penguins, Kapanen should challenge for a full-time spot on the Leafs roster in the 2017-18 season.
The only defenseman to make the list, Dermott has seen massive growth since getting drafted in the second round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.
He’s a strong skater who makes a great first pass. The Newmarket, Ontario native is extremely strong on his skates and does excellent work in the corners and on board battles. He’s also not afraid to step up and play a physical game if the occasion calls for it.
Dermott is arguably the best all-around defensive prospect the Leafs have in their system. He makes smart decisions with the puck and is a steady presence who can play in all situations. The former Erie Otter put up 24 points in 59 games this year and is widely considered to be knocking on the door to make the Leafs next season.
Leafs management and coaching staff know that the key to becoming a better team is developing their own homegrown talent. With spots on the blueline becoming available, expect to hear Dermott’s name in the mix when the Leafs open training camp next September.