For every Maple Leafs prospect in North America, except for one, their seasons have come to an end. I've already written larger profiles on some of Toronto's best prospects to summarize their seasons, which I will list for anyone who wanted to read them:
For the rest, I didn't necessarily have enough to write about them in a full profile on their own. But I did still want to include my thoughts and summary on their seasons and development. So, I made a summary report of the remaining North American prospects.
Note: I am not including any Toronto Marlies in this. I don't watch the Marlies all that much, since we have others here who already do and it helps me spend more time watching prospects for the draft and those who haven't joined the Marlies yet.
Position: Center/right winger
Weight: 179 lbs
Birthdate: May 25, 2004 (18 yrs)
Drafted: Round 3, 95th overall, 2022
League: USHL - Chicago Steel
Contract Status: Unsigned, rights expire Aug 15, 2027
After being drafted in the third round last year, Moldenhauer returned to the Chicago Steel in the USHL. He finished the season with 30 goals and 75 points in 55 games, good for third in the entire league for points. By points per game, he finished 2nd behind only Macklin Celebrini, who will likely be the first overall pick in 2024.
Moldenhauer played all over the place in the top six for Chicago. He switched back and forth between center and the wing, depending on who else was in the lineup on any given night. I'm guessing if he makes the NHL it will be as a winger. He is a smart and reliable player with some two-way ability, but he's not the fastest and I think will work best in a supporting role.
He has pretty solid all-around impacts, but no elite standout skill that seem like an obvious path to the pros for him. Offensively he shows better strengths as a playmaker, but he does have a good shot that he will unleash at times. He is a capable transition player, but I question how well that will play up as a pro due to his lack of high end speed. That's something he can work on, however, especially if he adds strength to his legs. If he makes the NHL, I don't think he'll manage above a middle six supporting winger. He'll probably spend at least 2-3 years in college before turning pro, so he's definitely more of a long term project.
This year, we found out which NCAA team Moldenhauer will join next year: the Michigan Wolverines. It is one of the top college programs in the country and they will have a strong roster for next year, but they have lost some of their top players who signed NHL contracts at the end of this season – mainly Luke Hughes and Mackie Samoskevich. There's also a good chance they'll lose Adam Fantilli if he turns pro right away after this year's draft. But they will still have Gavin Brindley, Rutger McGroarty, Dylan Duke, and Frank Nazar to lead their forwards. But Moldenhauer could quickly join the team in the top six as a supporting winger, though he'll have competition for a spot.
Position: Left winger
Weight: 181 lbs
Birthdate: Apr 13, 2004 (19 yrs)
Drafted: Round 7, 218th overall, 2022
League: WHL - Saskatoon
Contract Status: Unsigned, rights expire Aug 15, 2024
Lisowsky was a 7th round pick in last year's draft, so he definitely was always going to be a long shot to make the NHL. The fact that he's a smaller winger who lacks elite skating is why he fell so far, despite scoring 33 goals as a 17 year old in the WHL. This year, he returned to Saskatoon and finished with 38 goals and 71 points in 65 games, a big jump in his overall point totals. Saskatoon was not the deepest team offensively, but Lisowsky played a leading role and helped them make a good run in the playoffs to the semi-finals.
Most of Lisowsky's biggest impact came from his work in the offensive zone, though he did show some improvement in transition. He may not be the fastest in a straight line, but Lisowsky has always been a very shifty and maneuverable forward that's tough for junior defensemen to square up.
Here's what I wrote about Lisowsky after he was drafted:
The two best things I like about Lisowsky’s game is how versatile he is as a goal scorer, and he has a tenacious quality to his game. My biggest concern with his future projection is that his skating, puck handling, and playmaking are good — maybe even very good — but for junior. I’m not so sure it projects well to the pro level, not without some improvements to how he plays, and some development of some of those skills.
After this season, I can definitely say he showed some improvements to his all around game. He became a better playmaker, his skating had a bit more zip, and he found new and creative ways to get open and get his excellent shot off all over the ice. I think he still looks like a very good offensive producer in junior, but I think he'll have some trouble replicating that success if/when he turns pro.
I think he improved enough that I haven't written him off, but not enough that his future projection is is any clearer to me.
Position: Left winger
Weight: 148 lbs
Birthdate: Sep 15, 2002 (20 yrs)
Drafted: Round 6, 180th overall, 2020
League: NCAA - Harvard
Contract Status: Unsigned, rights expire Aug 15, 2026
Miller was a 6th round pick way back in 2020, taken as a tiny high school kid who was set to join the Chicago Steel and eventually the Harvard Crimson in the NCAA. After finishing the season before as an excellent producer on Chicago, he made the jump to join Harvard as a freshman. I honestly wasn't expecting too much, since unless you're a top prospect most players don't have great freshman years in the NCAA.
Miller, however, was pretty darn solid. He was immediately given a spot on the top line wing with Matt Coronato and Sean Farrell, likely because all three had built in chemistry as former Chicago Steel players. In the end, while Miller was definitely the passenger on the line between the other two, Miller had a very respectable 28 points in 33 games.
I watched a fair amount of Miller this year because I was really curious how a long-shot prospect like him would fare. He displayed all the smart playmaking and ability to be in the right place at the right time that he did in junior, and it helped him keep a spot in the top six all year. He also has a sneaky good shot, but he doesn't necessarily use it all that often. He, perhaps wisely, chose to let his two much better linemates take the shots and looked to set them up, unless he had a clear shot.
Miller got some powerplay time, though on the second unit. But next season, Harvard is going to have a hard time. They lost all of their top four point producers all turned pro: Coronato, Farrell, Laferrier and Thrun. Miller had the fifth most points so he will be counted on to be a bigger contributor next year, with no real top prospects joining the team that are the equivalent of who they lost.
But Miller has the same problem that Lisowsky does as a smaller, offensively focused winger. Except Miller is even smaller (5'8") and has the same kind of shifty but not that fast skating. Miller also played in a pretty weak conference in the NCAA – Harvard doesn't exactly play top programs like Michigan or Minnesota very often. But he looked good in a lesser role alongside some top prospects, so put him in the same "did good enough to not write him off yet" basket for next year.
Position: Center/right winger
Weight: 190 lbs
Birthdate: Jan 30, 2002 (21 yrs)
Drafted: Round 7, 213th overall, 2020
League: NCAA - UConn
Contract Status: Signed, ELC expires summer 2026
Tverberg was another late round pick in 2020 like Miller, in fact he was the fifth last pick that year. He has gone from being an OJHL guy who had okay production for his age and the league, to joining the NCAA during the pandemic and doing okay as a freshman in only 14 games. But last season he had his breakout season with 14 goals and 32 points in 36 games, while playing on their third line. But he did have a big shooting percentage spike over 20%, so it was tough to know how legitimate it was.
Last summer, we ranked Tverberg 22nd in our Top 25 Under 25 after he had a breakout season in his D+2 season. Here's what I wrote in his profile:
He’s a very good skater, especially in a straight line. That makes him a dangerous offensive threat off the rush. He has a good shot, and decent hands in tight although I wouldn’t call him a dynamic puck handler in tight. His skating combines well with a relentless motor, and he plays a very aggressive and physical style. Given his forechecking and play style I can see him becoming a fan favourite. If he makes the NHL, I do think that’s a possibility, he’s likely to be a fourth line energy guy who can play with speed, a physical style, forecheck hard, and help generate rush chances.
UConn graduated a lot of their top players last season, so Tverberg will likely play a bigger role in all situations and with more ice time. He may not improve his point totals, but what we should want to see from him is similar or better production that looks more sustainable because he makes improvements to the other areas of his game.
And damn if I didn't predict it. Tverberg spent the season as UConn's first line center, after playing on the wing his whole NCAA career before. He also played in all situations on the top PP unit, and one of the secondary PK units. In one fewer game played, Tverberg's production actually dropped very slightly – from 32 points down to 30. But his shot rate improved, and his shooting percentage dropped to a more normal level at 16%. He also improved his defensive game, maybe because his shift to center had him around the play more. But Tverberg always played a very fast, high effort and physical style that will make him a fan favourite on the Marlies.
Tverberg did sign his ELC after the NCAA season ended, and played in 7 games for the Marlies with no points registered. If he makes the NHL, it will very likely be in the bottom six as an energy and checking guy, maybe killing penalties too. He has the speed and the shot to make him somewhat of an offensive threat, but lacks any other high end skill to make him a potential top 6 guy. Honestly, out of all the other prospects on this list I do think Tverberg has the best chance to make the NHL, but it's not because I think he has the most skill. He simply has tools and skills that seem best suited to a depth role.
Position: Left shot defense
Weight: 170 lbs
Birthdate: Apr 13, 2001 (22 yrs)
Drafted: Round 5, 146th overall, 2020
League: NCAA - Minnesota
Contract Status: Unsigned, rights expire Aug 15, 2024
Koster is an interesting prospect to follow. He's a smaller (5'9") guy, and if it's hard for a smaller forward to make the NHL it's even harder for a smaller defenseman. This year, in his third season with Minnesota on one of the top teams in the league, Koster had his big breakout season. Despite being on a loaded roster behind other top defensive prospects like Brock Faber and Jackson LaCombe, Koster doubled his career best in points from 14 to 29. This is in part because he earned time on the second PP unit, and he did the job well – 3 of his 6 goals, and 9 of his 23 assists came on the powerplay.
You can definitely see the strength that Koster offers as a puck mover, in spite of not being the most noticeable defenseman on the ice. I watched an awful lot of Minnesota this year, mostly to follow Knies but I also kept an eye on Koster. He does his job well, mainly on the second pair at even strength and on the second powerplay.
But those strengths are mainly from his passing and puck moving ability. Otherwise, he's just okay. Defensively he just doesn't have the skating or the size to be that effective. Most of his effectiveness in that area comes from his ability to get the puck out, and using some smarts and stick work to present anything of a hurdle to the other team.
In the end, Koster is not a sexy or flashy prospect, despite having a big jump in his points. He'll have a chance to take on an even bigger role, with both Faber and LaCombe signing their ELCs after this season. It will be his fourth and final season in the NCAA, and by the time the season ends he'll be 23 years old. I am not that sure he will sign with Toronto, especially since the GM that drafted him is not around anymore. He could be a fun and effective guy in the AHL, along the same lines as Mac Hollowell. But he's still a long shot to make the NHL in my books.