FanPost

NHLe for Leafs Prospects, 2020-21

801514400-2017-nhl-draft-portraits.jpg.0.jpg

I am a fan of the Sham Sharron method of prospect analysis. While it is true that numbers never tell the whole story, I find it sobering to get numbers together and take a look at a prospect's production before getting granular and letting hope and narrative imbue them with significance. This especially in the 2020-21 season, when a lot of players moved around a lot and when the AHL season was truncated and weird.

So a quick and dirty look at Leafs' prospects' production. That is what this is.

Note that I am not an analyst of any description and you should not take these numbers without skepticism. These are only a launching point for discussion. The boxcars come from Elite Prospects, which I have summed for convenience, and the NHLe coefficients I am using come from Patrick Bacon (@TopDownHockey). You can view them and his calculations on his Tableau. In some cases our numbers differ. This because I have tried to include production from players who played significant time in various leagues, while he has not. For example, his NHLe for Mikko Kokkonen is only for his AHL time, while I have tried to factor in his Liiga production.

For each player, I have included not just the date they were drafted but their "year," expressed in how many years it's been since the draft for which they were first eligible. The Leafs have shown a fondness for overagers, so while prospects like Axel Rindell or Nick Abruzzese are relatively new to us, it helps to frame their output in terms of their real ages rather than the year the Leafs happened to draft them.

Forwards

Name Draft Birthday Age Year Position League GP G A P NHLe NHLe/g NHLe/82g
Denis Malgin 2015 18-01-97 24.5 6 RW NLA 45 19 23 42 19.28 0.428 35.1
Pontus Holmberg 2018 09-03-99 22.4 4 RW SHL 45 9 14 23 13.02 0.289 23.7
Semyon Der-Arguchintsev 2018 15-09-00 20.9 3 C AHL/KHL 23 2 8 10 6.19 0.266 21.8
Rodion Amirov 2020 02-10-01 19.8 1 LW KHL/VHL 42 10 5 15 10.69 0.238 19.5
Nicholas Robertson 2019 11-09-01 19.9 2 LW NHL/AHL 27 5 12 17 7.22 0.232 19.0
Pavel Gogolev n/a 19-02-00 21.4 3 LW AHL/Allsvenskan 25 8 7 15 5.72 0.223 18.3
Alex Steeves n/a 10-12-99 21.6 3 C NCAA 29 15 17 32 6.21 0.214 17.6
Joey Anderson 2016 19-06-98 23.1 5 RW NHL/AHL 21 7 4 11 4.28 0.214 17.5
Nikolai Chebykin 2016 01-08-97 24.0 6 C VHL 28 4 11 15 4.92 0.176 14.4
Roni Hirvonen 2020 10-01-02 19.6 1 C Liiga 54 6 15 21 9.26 0.172 14.1
Veeti Miettinen 2020 20-09-01 19.9 1 RW NCAA 31 11 13 24 4.66 0.150 12.3
Matthew Knies 2021 17-10-02 18.8 0 LW USHL 44 17 25 42 6.01 0.137 11.2
Mikhail Abramov 2019 26-03-01 20.3 2 C QMJHL 25 12 18 30 3.39 0.136 11.1
Dmitri Ovchinnikov 2020 19-08-02 18.9 1 C KHL/MHL 56 20 32 52 8.07 0.115 9.5
Ryan Tverberg 2020 30-01-02 19.5 1 C NCAA 14 4 3 7 1.36 0.097 8.0
Vladimir Bobylev 2016 18-04-97 24.3 6 C KHL/VHL 40 9 10 19 6.23 0.089 7.3
Vladislav Kara 2017 20-04-98 23.3 5 C KHL/VHL 40 3 5 8 3.96 0.085 7.0
Wyatt Schingoethe 2020 03-08-02 19.0 1 C USHL 44 10 11 21 3.00 0.068 5.6
Semyon Kizimov 2018 19-01-00 21.5 3 RW KHL/VHL 39 7 7 14 4.59 0.066 5.4
Joe Miller 2020 15-09-02 18.9 1 C USHL 40 8 10 18 2.57 0.064 5.3

You can see why the Leafs tendered a QO to Malgin, whose D+6 production in the Swiss league was pretty good. He could be depth scoring forward, and I would expect him to challenge for a bottom-six position on the Leafs out of camp, although he's more likely to be a top-six forward for the Marlies or get claimed on waivers.

Popular prospects like SDA, Rodion Amirov, and Roni Hirvonen grade out fine. I expected Nicholas Robertson to look a lot worse given how injury-plagued he seemed this season. Abramov's low NHLe is an expression of how easy it is to score in the QMJHL.

Pontus Holmberg's statistical profile is also intriguing. The Thommie Bergman special, although he seems like a far cry from Andreas Johnsson. His D+4 season is more comparable to Pierre Engvall's D+4—when Engvall had 20 points in 31 games for the SHL's HV71 in the 2017-2018 season. This should maybe give you an idea of how Holmberg projects: bottom-six winger whose points will be secondary to how he drives play.

Pavel Gogolev and Alex Steeves, this year's college free agent signing, looks like players to watch in the next, full AHL season.

2019-2020 Output for Forwards Who Didn't Play This Year

Name Draft Birthday Age Year Position League GP G A P NHLe NHLe/g NHLe/82g
Nick Abruzzese 2019 04-06-99 22.2 3
C NCAA 31 14 30 44 8.54 0.275 22.6
Ty Voit 2021 10-06-03 18.1 -1
RW OHL 49 8 20 28 4.03 0.082 6.7

Nick Abruzzese's numbers impress, although it's tough to gauge what a lost year of play will do to his development as a player.

Defensemen

Name Draft Birthday Age Year Position League GP G A P NHLe NHLe/g NHLe/82g
Brennan Menell n/a 24-05-97 24.2 6 RD KHL 47 5 33 38 29.34 0.624 51.2
Timothy Liljegren 2017 30-04-99 22.2 4 RD NHL/AHL 23 2 9 11 4.28 0.204 16.7
Joey Duszak n/a 22-07-97 24.0 6 RD AHL 25 4 8 12 4.67 0.187 15.3
Rasmus Sandin 2018 07-03-00 21.4 3 LD NHL/AHL 10 0 4 4 1.56 0.173 14.2
Filip Král 2018 20-10-99 21.8 3 LD AHL/Czech Extraliga 58 8 15 23 13.02 0.166 13.6
Mac Hollowell 2018 26-09-98 22.8 4 RD AHL/Mestis 33 4 12 16 4.96 0.161 13.2
Axel Rindell 2020 23-04-00 21.3 3 RD Liiga/U20 SM-sarja 49 7 20 27 11.55 0.143 11.7
Mikko Kokkonen 2019 18-01-01 20.5 2 LD AHL/Liiga/U20 SM-sarja 63 2 17 19 7.30 0.140 11.4
Topi Niemelä 2020 25-05-02 19.2 1 RD Liiga/U20 SM-sarja 21 1 7 8 2.10 0.086 7.1
John Fusco 2020 13-06-01 20.1 2 LD USHL 20 2 10 12 1.72 0.086 7.0
Mike Koster 2019 13-04-01 20.3 2 LD NCAA 31 3 9 12 2.33 0.075 6.2
William Villeneuve 2020 20-03-02 19.4 1 RD AHL/QMJHL 35 3 17 20 2.26 0.068 5.6
Kristians Rubins n/a 11-12-97 23.6 5 LD AHL 22 1 2 3 1.17 0.053 4.3
Ryan O'Connell 2017 25-04-99 22.3 4 LD NCAA 27 0 6 6 1.16 0.043 3.5
Kalle Loponen 2019 13-03-01 20.4 2 RD Liiga/U20 SM-sarja 37 11 22 33 2.74 0.038 3.1

Brennan Menell's NHLe is so shocking that I triple-checked to make sure I didn't goof something up. He scored a lot, and the KHL is harder to score in than you think it is. Worst case scenario, the Leafs got TJ Brennan for literally nothing. Best case scenario? Oh baby.

It's comforting to see Timothy Liljegren at the top of the heap here. He seems like a player who needs to break through soon or he's a bust, but defensemen like Mattias Ekholm became real players despite not breaking onto the roster until their D+5 seasons. I have hope he'll become something, even if he's not what I was hoping for when he fell to us at 17th overall.

Mikko Kokkonen's NHLe is higher than I expected, buoyed by a productive if brief stint in the AHL. NHLe-based prospect forecasting models seem to recommend him, even if I wasn't a fan of his game at the World Juniors. This unlike Topi Niemela, who impressed a lot of people this past year, especially at the World Juniors, but whose numbers here are a lot lower than I was anticipating. I have to imagine that his injury and the way his role changed before and after the World Juniors is part of why his production doesn't quite match his hype. His rapid development should still excite Leafs fans, and I'm really rooting for him going forward.

Happy to see Filip Kral and Mac Hollowell so high up as well. Kral scored 21 points in 48 games in the Czech league, and like the KHL, it's harder to score there than you might think.

If you're curious, Travis Dermott had 2 goals and 4 assists. His 6 points would have been 9.6 in a full 82-game season.

Goalies

Name Draft Birthday Age Year Position League GP Sv%
Artur Akhtiamov 2020 31-10-01 19.7 1 G KHL/VHL/MHL 26 .904/.927/.935
Ian Scott 2017 11-01-99 22.5 4 G AHL/ECHL 6 .857/.844
Erik Källgren 2015 04-10-96 24.8 6 G SHL 21 0.911
Joe Woll 2016 12-07-98 23.0 5 G AHL 15 0.892
Vyacheslav Peksa 2021 27-08-02 18.9 1 G MHL 17 0.909

Akhtiamov's numbers recommend him, but he's young and goalie development is fickle and takes a long time. Jack Campbell was widely written off as a bust before becoming a rock for the Leafs this year. In sum, I don't know what any of this is and I'm scared.

Closing Thoughts

It's become fashionable to blame Mark Hunter for the Leafs' bum drafts in the Shanahan era, and those charges are legitimate. It is stunning how bare of promise the 2016 and 2017 drafts look from the present, and it's not difficult to fathom how much better off the Leafs would be if even one or two picks from those drafts were challenging for real minutes in the coming season. Instead, it's Adam Brooks trying to make it on the 4th line, and a lot of nothing.

At the time, the Leafs made a lot of picks that online hockey stats people greeted with skepticism and disapproval. Fans (like myself), optimistic about their public investment in analytics, reasoned that the Leafs must know something internally that we don't, and hindsight makes fools of us all, or at least of me. Whatever committee it was that drafted like this, it failed, and I hope the Leafs have learned from that.

It's worth noting that since Hunter's departure, the Leafs have shown greater affinity for skilled players or players whose hockey sense helps them outplay whatever deficiencies they have that led them to fall to later rounds. They have been size-agnostic to the point of parody, and they like players with funky development paths, especially players who can play against adults in the AHL, KHL, or SHL instead of marinating in the CHL. Yet some drafting trends from the Hunter era remain, upsetting this Dubas/Hunter dichotomy that can be comforting even when it's not true. Under Dubas, the Leafs have still shown a propensity for obscure Russian players, overagers, and USHL and NCAA players. Years ago, I feel like the USHL love in particular would've been panned as suboptimal, so it's interesting to see the Leafs with so many USHL players in their portfolio.

Easy answers for next season? Who knows. Probably not. But reasons for optimism? Certainly. The Leafs' farm system is not as fallow as you might think, even if it's not harvest time.

PensionPlanPuppets.com is a fan community that allows members to post their own thoughts and opinions on the Toronto Maple Leafs and hockey in general. These views and thoughts may not be shared by the editor of PensionPlanPuppets.com.