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Sunday FTB: News and updates on some Maple Leafs prospects

Knies interview, Amirov update, and Hirvonen doing great in the playoffs

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Toronto Maple Leafs v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

On Saturday we had a few bits of news and updates concerning some notable Toronto Maple Leafs prospects. We’ll start with the big one, literally and figuratively: Matthew Knies.

For weeks now, there has been rumours that the Leafs really wanted to sign both Nick Abruzzese and Matthew Knies to ELCs this season. And not just sign them either, they wanted to have them jump right to their NHL roster to help improve their fourth line.

We’ve already seen the Leafs pull half of that off. Abruzzese was signed after Harvard was eliminated from the NCAA tournament, and just made his NHL debut with the Leafs last night.

Knies is still playing for Minnesota in the NCAA tournament. They’ve made the Frozen Four, which is their fancy way of saying the semi-finals, in no small part thanks to Knies himself. In the first two games of the tournament, Knies has 2 goals and 1 assist — including the tying goal that sent it to overtime, and the winning goal in game two.

Knies, meanwhile, is still going and won’t be signing anything until after Minnesota is eliminated or wins the tournament. The semi-finals and finals are set to happen next weekend.

The question has been if Knies would indeed sign or not. He’s only in his freshman year, and it’s not that common for an NCAA player to sign his ELC after only one season. But it’s also not that common for an NCAA player to be ready to play in the NHL right away.

Yesterday, Mark Masters with TSN had an interview with Knies. They talked about his season, his skills, his Olympics, and eventually got to the question we all wanted to know — Masters asked Knies if he thought he’s ready for that next step, in regards to the Leafs saving a contract slot for him. Here was Knies’ answer:

“I think my size is obviously there, I think I have the strength. I’m ready to jump, but, like you said I’m not really focused on it. I’m heading into the biggest games of my life this upcoming weekend. I just want to make sure we go as far as possible and give my team the best chance to win, and then whatever comes forward I can sit down and talk with my parents and people who know me best”

So my read on this is that he’s very likely to sign with the Leafs once the tournament is over for him. He thinks he’s ready, but he is rather understandably trying to keep his focus on the final games of the tournament ahead of him.

Then, last night during the second intermission of the Leafs-Flyers game, we got a small update about Rodion Amirov from Friedman. Basically, he’s already begun his chemotherapy treatments, but is still able to workout in the gym five days a week, and skate three times a week. They show a clip of Amirov in the gym working out, and you can see he’s completely lost his hair. He has another round of chemo coming soon.

It’s not much in the way of news, but he’s still keeping up his strength and his spirits by the sounds of it. That’s all we can hope to know at this point.

Lastly, there’s some small updates on the performances of some prospects. First, Roni Hirvonen who is having himself a strong playoff performance so far:

Next is Joe Miller, who is not in the playoffs but who helped the Chicago Steel come back from a 5-2 deficit in the final 3 minutes to send it to overtime. Miller himself scored twice in the final 17 SECONDS!! for the tie.

LEAFS LINKS

RECAP: Maple Leafs storm the Flyers in the 3rd and break the tie wide open | by Katya

When smarts overcome a lack of size: Breaking down Nick Abruzzese’s game ahead of his Maple Leafs debut | by Josh Simpson at MLHS

Some news concerning the Leafs’ parent company and the growing sports betting industry.

MISCELLANEOUS LINKS

Flyers make Keith Yandle a healthy scratch, ironman streak ends at 989 games | by Daily Faceoff

Breaking down the Ducks’ two main issues with Beagle-Terry incident (Video) | by Sportsnet

Flames F Monahan to undergo season-ending hip surgery | by TSN

NHL power rankings: Rangers increase their standing after strong deadline | by The Athletic