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Maple Leafs prospect news: Many players getting December off

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Some leagues are starting to shut down just as the NHL is considering starting up.

A collection of pucks on the ice, being spread out by the blade of one hockey stick Chris Tanouye/CWHL

As December begins, many of the Maple Leafs prospects are losing their places to play hockey, and the future is far from certain for any of them.

  • The Finnish Mestis league has suspended operations for the rest of 2020, with hopes to resume in January. Mac Hollowell has been playing there, and will likely return to Toronto now.
  • The QMJHL is also suspending operations entirely for one month, with a tentative plan to resume in late January, either with a normal schedule to get as close to 60 games played as they can, or in bubbles like they used recently in Quebec City. The cost of the bubbles makes it difficult for a league with little revenue outside of Atlantic Canada that is existing on government support. Drafted prospect William Villeneuve will now be idle for at least six weeks. Mikhail Abramov will return from the WJC before the QMJHL resumes, but he has now joined the Russian camp and will be shortly in the WJC bubble in Edmonton.
  • Previously, Nick Abruzzese’s team cancelled their season in the NCAA. He is reportedly recovering from surgery and would not be playing yet in any case.
  • Finland also suspended the U20 league yesterday for the rest of 2020. They have a schedule to resume play with limited travel, but until then the junior eligible prospects can’t move to the junior teams if the Liiga is disrupted.
  • The Liiga might suspend operations for the rest of December, after approximately half of the teams are not allowed to host games under new restrictions. Drafted Prospects Mikko Kokkonen, Topi Niemelä and Roni Hirvonen will (likely all) be at the WJC for that period, but Axel Rindell, Kalle Loponen and Eemeli Räsänen will not have a place to play if they go on pause.
  • UPDATE: the Liiga decided to take a partial measure and has suspended operations to December 19. They will revisit the schedule later this month. Christmas games are a lucrative source of income in Finland, so they clearly don’t want to cancel them until they’re forced to.
  • In non-COVID-19 related news, Semyon Der-Arguchintsev was hurt in a game on November 29 in a kneeing incident. No more details on his status have been found yet.

The rest of the Leafs prospects are still playing in various leagues around the world for now, but some in the NCAA and USHL have played less than 10 games so far.

The ECHL still intends to begin play in a few days, and it will be interesting to see how they handle the inevitable COVID-19 cases on their teams. The USHL has repeatedly cancelled games because teams couldn’t ice full rosters.

In news about the resumption of an NHL season, there is not really news so much as reports that no compromise is close on the salary % to be paid to players. Some reports suggest that players are not making the effort to return to their home cities at this point, and we’re long past the point where anyone should take the January 1 date for NHL play seriously.

That was pretty gloomy, so have one of the Leafs’ fans favourite things, a video of a prospect not quite scoring a goal: