The Toronto Maple Leafs are looking towards the future so there’s no better time to look at the Leafs best prospects.
Most of these players are a season or two away from making the team. Players such as Stuart Percy and Petter Granberg are not on the list since they are pretty close to making the team and would be already there if not for the veterans in Toronto.
10. Carter Verhaeghe
Verhaeghe was a surprise pick when the Leafs took him in the third round in 2013. Playing for the Niagara Ice Dogs, he started out with bigger names such as Ryan Strome and Dougie Hamilton taking the spotlight. He took over the team’s No. 1 center this past season. He even took over as captain of the team when it was decided that Luke Mercer would not play for the rest of the season after being injured earlier.
Verhaeghe played two games for the Toronto Marlies in the 2013-14 season and could find his way back there next season. He could return for one more season with the Ice Dogs however.
9. Antoine Bibeau
Bibeau was a sixth-round pick in 2013. Of course, not many people expect late-round picks to make it to the NHL. Well, Bibeau got off to a good start as he lead the Val-d’Or Foreurs to the Memorial Cup. Even though the team bowed out of the tournament in the Semi-Final, he was named top goaltender in the tournament.
Rather than have remain in the QMJHL, the Leafs elected to have him play with the Marlies this season. He appeared in 31 games with the Marlies and won 15 of them. His first professional season could have gone better, but there is plenty of time for him to develop while the Leafs rebuild.
8. Viktor Loov
Loov looks like he will be the next Leafs big tough defender. He made his debut with the Marlies this season after playing the past three seasons in Sweden. He had six goals and 21 points in 75 games with the team this season.
He is one of the older players on this list at 22-years old. He could make the Leafs as soon as the 2015-16 season and could be an injury call-up this season.
7. Tom Nilsson
Nilsson is another Swedish defenseman in the Leafs pipeline to go along with Granberg. Nilsson is another physical defenseman, but the difference between him and Loov is the offensive game. In the past three seasons, he has a combined 14 points in a total of 146 games between the Marlies, Frolunda HC and Mora IK.
A year younger than Loov, Nilsson might have just a tad more potential than his countryman.
6. Andreas Johnson
When Brendan Shanahan let go a lot of the Leafs scouts, one of the few that wasn’t let go was the Swedish scout. Drafted in the seventh round of the 2013 NHL Draft, Johnson responded by putting on a performance (15 G, 9 A, 24 P) in the Swedish Hockey League that earned him the Rookie of the Year Award in the 2013-14 season.
He followed that with an even better season, getting nine more points than the year before. He was the top scorer under-21 in the league and third-best under-24. Having recently signed a contract with the Leafs, he plans to spend one more in Sweden before making the jump to the Marlies the next season.
5. Brendan Leipsic
Leipsic was acquired from the Nashville Predators in February in the Cody Franson deal. He has been called the most annoying prospect in hockey by The Hockey News. He made his professional debut last season with the Milwaukee Admirals before moving on to the Marlies.
He had a total of 14 goals and 54 points in a combined 74 games. If he can bring his offensive game and continue to be that annoying-type of player that could remind Toronto fans of Darcy Tucker.
4. Connor Brown
Brown spent two seasons on the same team as a slightly more known Connor in Connor McDavid. However, he spent most of his time playing on a line with Dylan Strome, the third overall pick in 2015. He also set the Erie Otters record for points in a season in 2013-14, but the record was broken by Strome this past season by one point.
In his first season with the Marlies, he scored 21 goals and amassed 61 points in 76 games. That was good enough to be the top scoring rookie in the entire NHL. He even represented the Marlies at the 2015 AHL All-Star Game.
3. Kasperi Kapanen
Kapanen, the son of former NHLer Sami Kapanen, was drafted 22nd overall by Pittsburgh last year. The newest Leafs prospect has played the past three seasons in the SM-liiga playing against men. He did appear in four games for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at the end of the regular season and scored a goal while adding one assist as well.
In Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s seven playoff games, he performed really well, scoring three goals. He’ll get a chance to see if he can develop more in North America with the Marlies next season.
2. William Nylander
Nylander, another son of an NHLer (Michael Nylander), was the Leafs eighth overall pick in 2014. While some might think that the Leafs should have gone with a bigger player such as Nick Ritchie, no one can doubt Nylander’s skill.
He made the jump to the Marlies after playing half the season with Modo in the Swedish Hockey League. He was one of the AHL’s best players after joining the Marlies, scoring a 14 goals and totaling 32 points in 37 games. That production helped the Marlies make the AHL playoffs, where he had three assists in their five games.
1. Mitch Marner
The latest first-round pick for the Maple Leafs, big things are expected of Marner. In the past two seasons with the London Knights, he has 185 points in 127 games. While he might like to make the Leafs this season, the Leafs rebuild means they can be patient with him and give him another year in the OHL, and possibly one with the Marlies as well.