Everyone is well aware that the Toronto Maple Leafs are in a full scale rebuild this season. Wins have been hard to come by and the players the team uses every night are not nearly the most talented the franchise has ever seen. There are a few bright spots however, both at the NHL level and in the lower in the tiers of hockey.
The Maple Leafs have gotten surprisingly solid goaltending out of James Reimer, a man many thought would be the backup to Jonathan Bernier this year. Morgan Rielly, the young rearguard, has become not only the teams best defenseman, but possibly its best overall player. He continues to impress with his play in both zones.
The Toronto Marlies are a force to be reckoned with and sit first in their division with a record of 10-3 at the time of this article. They are lead by the highly touted William Nylander, the crafty Swede the Leafs drafted eight overall in 2014. He’s put up 14 points in 12 games and shows no signs of slowing down.
How about the Maple Leafs and their most recent draft picks? Many are plying their trade in the Canadian Hockey League and have made quit the impression on their team and the league as a whole.
Travis Dermott: Defenseman, Erie Otters (OHL)
The former Newmarket Hurricane has been excellent so far this season for the Erie Otters. He has 12 points, which are all assists, in 16 games so far. He’s the type of skater that will let the play make its way to him. He won’t force his chances and is cool under pressure.
Dermott was just given the special honour of being included on the Canadian roster for the Canada vs. Russia series which will take place on November 12th and 16th.
Dmytro Timashov: Left Wing, Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)
Timashov appears to be a man possessed to start the 2015-16 season. His draft year saw him put up 90 points in 66 games. The Leafs were impressed with his skills and got him for a steal of a pick at 125th overall.
The Leafs were looking for skill and speed, which Timashov has in spades. He currently has 10 goals and 25 assists for 35 points in only 19 games.
Martins Dzierkals: Left Wing, Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL)
Many fans of the Maple Leafs were left scratching their heads at this youngster, who they drafted in the third round, 68th overall in the most recent draft. The Latvian forward has been dynamic in his first season with the Huskies and is currently tied for second in team scoring.
After playing in Europe, his biggest challenge would be adjusting to the North American style of game. He has so far done exactly that and should continue to surpass expectations in the QMJHL this season.
Jeremy Bracco: Right Wing, Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
Bracco has had an interesting start to his 2015-16 campaign. He started it by putting up three points in five games for Boston College. Recently though, he made the move to the OHL, where he now plays for the Kitchener Rangers.
Bracco has been a revelation for the Blueshirts and has come up with seven points in five games so far. The diminutive winger has easily impressed in his short time with Kitchener, and has no regrets about leaving Boston College. Bracco is part of the new Leafs mentality, which saw them draft speed and skill over size. He should continue his strong start to his OHL career.
Mitch Marner: Center, London Knights (OHL)
The Maple Leafs crown jewel of the past draft, Marner carries the high expectations of the organization and its fan base. After being selected fourth overall, the highly touted forward has responded extremely well. He was named the co-captain of the Knights and has led them to 12 wins to start the year.
He’s also put up nine goals and 17 assists for 26 points in 14 games. The slick forward continues to amaze and has also been selected to be a part of the OHL’s roster that will take on Russia. Aside from Nylander, Marner might be the most important Leafs prospect currently in the system. If he continues to improve, the Maple Leafs of the future are in good hands.
And Mitch Marner is on pace for 120+ points in the OHL again.
So there's hope, depressed Leafs fans. It's just not in the NHL.
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) November 10, 2015