At this point, I've written a prospect report on each of Toronto's non-AHL or ECHL prospects – except for four. Actually, I guess technically there's a whole bunch of Russians and college guys Toronto still technically owns the rights for, but who at this point I think everyone has written off completely.
So there are four prospects of any note I still haven't written an update on, and there are reasons for that. None of them are guys who have done all that much to stand out, and they've also been around as prospects long enough that they were already somewhat known quantities.
But, for these four, there's still a faint trace of something interesting in them. At least to me. They may also have some additional context to their seasons so far that I've been keeping in mind whenever I check in on them. So rather than give them full updates when there isn't much for me to say, I figured I'd give them each a shorter blurb as an update for how their seasons have been going.
Of the four, Joe Miller is still the most interesting to me. He is also arguably having the better season compared to the other three. He's been a top line forward for Harvard this year, and leads the forwards in points with 12 (6 goals, 6 assists) in 15 games. As far as forwards go, he's been running the show. The forward with the second most points has only 7 points, while the team leader in points is defenseman Ryan Healey with 13.
This is now a good time to talk about how bad Harvard has been this year. In a word: very. They have a 2-10-3 record. They have a losing record in their own conference, which is already one of the weaker conferences. They lost a lot of their best players after last season then they turned pro and they were just not replaced to any adequacy.
Miller started the season as the top line center, but was very quickly moved to the wing – which was the correct move for him. Miller's problem has, and will likely always be, that he just doesn't have a high enough level of skill to make up for his size limitations. He has a good brain for hockey, and enough skill to do well in junior and at college. He is sort of like Moldenhauer, in that he is a bit of a dual-threat with the puck – good at passing it, good at shooting it. But neither skills are elite, and he isn't very speedy and/or agile which smaller players almost always need. I think he could do pretty well in the AHL, but at best at the same level Abruzzese does – and with much the same problems and limitations.
Mike Koster I am less sure about, but in a lot of ways he's Joe Miller the defenseman. He's undersized (especially for a defenseman) at 5'10", and he doesn't have elite, overwhelming offensive skill. But he is a solid defenseman in the NCAA, and could be good but not excellent in the AHL – think Mac Hollowell, but I'd say smarter and not as good of a skater.
Koster is now 22 years old. He's in his fourth season on Minnesota, one of the better NCAA programs in all of college hockey. Last year he had a bit of a breakout season, doubling his career highs in goals (6) and points (29) in 40 games, in part due to finally earning some powerplay time.
This year, Minnesota doesn't have nearly as strong as a team and won't be favourites to win the NCAA title like they were last year. Koster is one of their remaining veteran defensemen, but missed a good chunk of the season to start due to injury. So far, he has 1 goal and 8 points in 16 games. I'm skeptical of him getting an NHL contract from the Leafs at this point.
Miettinen as a prospect is an object lesson from me. I loved him in his draft year, a small zippy forward who can absolutely rip it. As a late round pick? I still argue it's not a bad swing to bet on one big skill. His freshman season in the NCAA was going great – at one point, he had 22 points in his first 19 games. But he slowed down towards the end, not helped by suffering a knee injury he played through as St Cloud was on a run to the NCAA championship game. He finished with only 2 points in his remaining 12 games.
Miettinen never looked the same since, to me. I watched him a good deal that freshman season, and while I wouldn't say he was a bluechip prospect at any point he played fast, aggressive for his size, and his shot just made sounds when it hit the goalie/boards/glass that you don't often hear from most players shooting. After the injury in his freshman season, he absolutely looked like he played more timid to me. He became even more of a perimeter player, and even if he still shot it a lot it's harder to beat goalies from longer distances. It's even harder when you shoot it into blocks in front of you more often.
Miettinen's second and third seasons did not show any growth from his freshman season. In fact, I'd say he looked worse than he did during those 19 games before the injury. He had 23 points in 37 games, and then 36 points (mostly added assists) in 41 games last season. This season, he's on pace to well surpass his career best in goals, already scoring 11 in 20 games. But his assists have dropped off, so he has 16 points in 20 games. But even looking better than the previous two seasons, I think he's just come back to matching his freshman season.
I would not sign him to an ELC at this point.
Kressler is a bit of a sad story. Unlike the others on this list, he is already signed to an ELC despite being the only one on this list who was not drafted. He was invited to their rookie camps/tournaments one year, and impressed Toronto enough to earn a contract. He's another undersized forward (5'9") who has showed some interesting promise as a two-way center/winger, in fact when he was signed to an ELC that was the main reason why.
Kressler has a good shot. He is a pretty good passer and skater. But he's mostly just a smart player who knows where to be, what he needs to do, and has decent abilities and skills to get the job done. His problem has been staying healthy. He has never played in a full season since being drafted, getting into at most 47 games back in 2022/23. He's been better than a point per game player in the past two seasons, and taken on more and more of a role on a rebuilding Flint team as their 1C or at least top line winger playing in all situations.
This year, he was returned by Toronto back to the OHL for an age 20/21 season instead of being kept in the ECHL/AHL. He's had another season where he's been hurt, but been above a point per game when healthy. He was recently traded from the rebuilding Flint team to the Ottawa 67's, where he has 4 points in his first 3 games playing as their 1C.
Toronto still has his contract for another two seasons after this, and I'd expect he'll have to build up his career from the ECHL next season.