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The Leafs Pre-Draft Cupboard is Always Bare

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A look at the depth chart and who is in the pipeline before the draft changes everything.

2017 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game
Which list is Ian Scott on, though?
Photo by Mathieu Belanger/Getty Images

We’re at that time of the year where the roster and the list of prospects is thinnest, but it’s a good idea to look them over before the draft and see where the holes are.

First, the pipeline, which is a sad and short list. For these purposes, this is every unsigned draft pick, or those signed to NHL contracts, but loaned back to junior hockey. There are a few players out there the Leafs have technical signing rights too, but they aren’t really prospects. If you want to keep up with all the players on the reserve list, and the expiration of their rights, Cap Friendly has you covered.

Pipeline at June 15

Name Birthdate Pos 2018/2019 Team 2019/2020 Team Rights Expire
Name Birthdate Pos 2018/2019 Team 2019/2020 Team Rights Expire
Dakota Joshua May 15, 1996 C Ohio State, NCAA August 15, 2019
Zachary Bouthillier November 8, 1999 G Saint John SeaDogs, QMJHL/Newfoundland Growlers, ECHL June 1, 2020
Riley Stotts January 5, 2000 C Calgary Hitmen, WHL June 1, 2020
J.D. Greenway April 27, 1998 D Dubuque Fighting Saints, USHL University of Maine, NCAA August 15, 2021
Pontus Holmberg March 9, 1999 LW/C Växjö HC, SHL Växjö HC, SHL June 1, 2022
Filip Kral October 20, 1999 D Spokane Chiefs, WHL June 1, 2020
Ryan O'Connell April 25, 1999 D Ohio State, NCAA Ohio State, NCAA August 15, 2022
Martins Dzierkals April 4, 1997 LW Dinamo Riga, KHL/Liepaja, Latvia indefinite
Eemeli Räsänen April 6, 1999 D Jokerit, Khl/PTO with Marlies Jokerit, KHL indefinite
Vladimir Bobylev April 18, 1997 C Toros Neftekamsk, VHL Toros Neftekamsk, VHL Indefinite
Nikolai Chebykin August 1, 1997 LW Toros Neftekamsk, VHL Salavat Yulaev, KHL Indefinite
Vladislav Kara April 20, 1998 C/W Ak Bars KHL/Bars Kazan VHL Ak Bars KHL/Bars Kazan VHL Indefinite
Semyon Kizimov January 19, 2000 RW Lada Togliatti, VHL Lada Togliatti, VHL Indefinite
Semyon Der-Arguchintsev September 15, 2000 C Peterboroough Petes, OHL Peterboroough Petes, OHL NHL Contract - still junior eligible

I’ve corrected this according to Cap Friendly with some rights expiry and contract status via Elite Prospects. The Leafs gained a year on JD Greenway due to his leaving the NCAA for a season and then going back. Filip Kral is now listed as a CHL two-year rights player and Martins Dzierkals is now indefinite due to his move back to the KHL.

We should expect Dakota Joshua to become a UFA in August, with Greenway following the next year. Vladimir Bobylev, Nikolai Chebykin and Dzierkals are highly unlikely to come back to North America. That leaves 10 names, of which very few are likely to make their way to the Marlies. My pick of the bunch (other than Semyon Der Arguchintsev who is the only one on an NHL contract) is Pontus Holmberg, but that’s mostly because I know more about him than I do Riley Stotts, the only other really likely suspect. Eemeli Räsänen needs to take a big step to move into the pro ranks, and this is his year to do that. I really like Vladislav Kara and Semyon Kizimov as low-round picks, but both of them may find better opportunities in the KHL. I consider them both better than the older KHL players like Chebykin, however.

The draft will add seven new names (or possibly more) to this list, and some of them should slot in well above most of those left.

As far as the depth chart goes, it’s been culled of all the UFAs and is just the NHL-contracted players and unsigned RFAs:

Maple Leafs Depth Chart, June 15

C LW RW D - L D - R G
C LW RW D - L D - R G
John Tavares Andreas Johnsson Mitch Marner Morgan Rielly Nikita Zaitsev Frederik Andersen
Auston Matthews Zach Hyman William Nylander Jake Muzzin Justin Holl Garret Sparks
Nazem Kadri Patrick Marleau Kasperi Kapanen Travis Dermott Timothy Liljegren Kasimir Kaskisuo
Frederik Gauthier Trevor Moore Connor Brown Calle Rosen Jesper Lindgren Joseph Woll
Nic Petan Mason Marchment Ilya Mikheyev Rasmus Sandin Mac Hollowell Ian Scott
Adam Brooks Michael Carcone Jeremy Bracco Andreas Borgman Joe Duszak Eamon McAdam
Pierre Engvall Dmytro Timashov Egor Korshkov Teemu Kivihalme Jordan Subban -
- - Nick Baptiste - - -
- - Gabriel Gagne - - -

As always, some decisions have to get made about who is a right or left wing or defender. As far as the order goes, this is primarily usage in the NHL or proximity to it. Yes, absolutely Timothy Liljegren is a better quality player than Justin Holl, but Holl is in the NHL and Liljegren very likely will not be.

Jordan Subban is still here until we know for sure if he’s leaving for Europe or if the Leafs issue a qualifying offer. Eamon McAdam is in a similar position as an unsigned RFA who couldn’t get a net in the playoffs, not even in the ECHL.

Andreas Borgman might deserve to jump up higher, and Teemu Kivilhalme is Finnish Jesper Lindgren until proven otherwise. Ilya Mikheyev, the other mystery, got an “NHL, but who knows how high” ranking.

This is a thin list, when you consider that the Marlies usually play with almost all NHL-contracted players. At some point, as RFAs come off of here, other players will get added to the bottom. And of course, if the Leafs trade Nikita Zaitsev, Holl moves up to the top of the right-shooting D list.

We’ll post this list after the draft, and see how the new team compares to the old one. Until then, I think the biggest question for me beyond the giant hole at the top of the defence is who plays left wing?

Which of the many right wings on this list will move over?


Who is moving to the left wing side?

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    Jeremy Bracco, obviously
    (103 votes)
  • 9%
    No one, the Leafs are signing Artemi Panarin
    (47 votes)
  • 25%
    William Nylander, since he’s had the most recent practice
    (124 votes)
  • 25%
    The new guy
    (123 votes)
  • 16%
    Trevor Moore will play the top line after Johnsson is traded
    (81 votes)
478 votes total Vote Now