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Friday FTB: Pontus Holmberg is the last prospect standing at the Olympics

Holmberg is the final Olympic medal hope from the Leafs

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CHINA-BEIJING-OLYMPIC WINTER GAMES-ICE HOCKEY-MEN’S PRELIMINARY-FIN VS SWE(CN) Photo by Liu Xiao/Xinhua via Getty Images

After Josh Ho-Sang on Team Canada and Matthew Knies with Nick Abruzzese on Team USA were all eliminated from Olympic medal contention in the quarter finals, the Leafs are left with one final prospect still playing for a medal.

Pontus Holmberg and Team Sweden will be taking on Russia in the semi-finals at 8:10 am EST this morning. They will be underdogs, but even if they lose they could always win a bronze medal against the loser of Finland-Slovakia in last night’s other semi-final. Holmberg hasn’t gotten the same kind of ice time as the others, even Ho Sang who was slowly dumped down the lineup by Claude Julien.

Here is Holmberg’s ice time and stats in his four games so far:

  1. 13:26 vs Latvia, with one assist
  2. 9:24 vs Slovakia, with no points or shots
  3. 5:52 vs Finland, with one shot and no points
  4. 10:31 vs Canada in the quarter finals, with one assist and one shot

So in four games, he has two points and two shots. He’s been averaging under 10 minutes per game. It will hopefully serve as a bit of a sobering moment for people who got a bit too high on Holmberg’s helium-rise as a prospect in the SHL. Being a top player there, at his age, does not mean he’s a lock for a top 9 role in the NHL. If he does make the NHL, it will likely be in a depth role.

While we’re on the topic, people should also probably cool it on the hype for Matthew Knies and Nick Abruzzese. They both had solid tournaments, they both look like good prospects. But their competition was mostly guys who were not good enough for the NHL anymore, at best. The rest are guys who may not have even been good enough for the AHL. That’s not to take away from how they looked, but we shouldn’t expect either to be jumping to the NHL and carry the Leafs to the Cup after the NCAA season is over.

Abruzzese may sign, since he’s in his (technically) third season and started his NCAA career later than most. He may want to complete his fourth year in Harvard for the education, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he signs his ELC later this year. Knies on the other hand is very likely to stay in Minnesota for at least one more year. While he’s been a good NCAA player as a freshman, and a top player for Minnesota, he has not been dominant. There are things he can still improve, even if he could reasonably jump to the AHL right now and do pretty well. That doesn’t mean he’d be good enough to have an impact in the NHL, however. He’ll be a good player in time, but he’s still got some work to do.

LEAFS LINKS

Jack Campbell leads the way to a Leafs victory over Pittsburgh | by elseldo and Omar

Maple Leafs reveal jerseys for Heritage Classic | by Katya

How Frightened Am I Of Each NHL Team? | by ATFulemin

What’s next for Josh Ho-Sang? | by TLN

Nick Ritchie scores in debut, Toronto Marlies hand league-leading Utica their biggest defeat of the season | by MLHS

One-on-one with Maple Leafs prospect Nick Robertson: On recovering from his injury and trade speculation | by The Athletic

Some prospect signing news...

Some more trade speculation ahead of the deadline...

MISCELLANEOUS HOCKEY NEWS

Kraken debuting historic all-Black TV broadcast crew vs. Jets | by Sportsnet

IIHF president Tardif ‘optimistic’ NHLers will be at the 2026 Olympics | by Sportsnet

Hughes on possible Petry, Chiarot trades: ‘If we think a deal is the right one, we’ll do it’ | by TSN

The big news for international hockey came during an IIHF press conference earlier yesterday: https://www.iihf.com/en/events/2022/olympic-m/news/32185/iihf_leadership_excited_in_beijing

The two big points are that the Women’s U18 championship will be held in the summer somewhere in America, which is huge news considering the momentum behind the growth of women’s hockey of late.

Meanwwhile the World Juniors will resume — from the beginning — in late August. The same age restrictions apply, so if you were eligible when they tried to hold it in December you’ll be eligible now. But teams can bring all new rosters within those restrictions. That could prove interesting.

Finally, I’ll leave you with this...