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PPP's Top 25 Under 25 - #8 Josh Leivo

Leivo's rookie campaign in the AHL leaves us with a lot of hope for his future prospects, but he's stuck with a lot of names ahead of him at the moment, on this countdown and on the Leafs.

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sport

Up until now, the Top 25 has been a lot of fun. The countdown has seen lots of new faces, many people making big moves up (or down) based on adding new information to what is typically a small resume of experience at the junior, college or lower pro levels. It's a lot easier to make a big jump up the list in the lower ranks, as evidenced by 9th ranked Andreas Johnson (up 23) and 10th ranked Carter Verhaeghe (up 12).

Fun's over. We're into the best players under 25 the Leafs have to offer, and moving up becomes a much trickier proposition. We know the last eight players quite well, we know their strengths, we know their weaknesses, and we have a pretty good idea of what they'll be.

So as of right now, it's still Josh Leivo, the Leafs 3rd round pick in 2011, that sits at the bottom of the next group on our countdown. But the gap is closing.

Birthyear: 1993-05-26 Birthplace: Innisfil, ON, CAN
Age: 21 Nation: Canada
Position: LW Shoots: L
Height: 185 cm / 6'1" Weight: 84 kg / 185 lbs
Contract: 15/16
Drafted: 2011 round 3 #86 overall by Toronto Maple Leafs

Leivo started off his rookie season as a pro slowly, struggling with some minor injuries and other adjustment issues. However, injuries depleted the Leafs and Leivo got a massive opportunity to make his NHL debut. He even managed to register both his first point, and his first NHL goal (he scored 2 points in 7 games).

The audition seemed to energize Leivo, and he was a major contributor down the stretch for the Marlies, finishing with 42 points in 59 games. Kyle Cicerella noted that Leivo still has things to work on as he develops as a pro, but that could also mean there is more to come.

Being molded into top-6 LW but plays RW as well. Great shot and ability to take puck to net. Also a strong net presence on PP. Can improve on his skating and overall hockey IQ but one of the better prospects with a chance to earn a call up to Leafs at some point this season.

Read more of Kyle's thoughts on Josh Leivo here and here.

What's next this year for Leivo? Well, more of the same. The Leafs have a crush of forwards competing for roster spots in the NHL, and Leivo, a young player exempt from waivers, will certainly be sacrificed and start with the Marlies. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, after all, Leivo can be counted on to return to a top six role on the Marlies this season, and will get the ice time that goes along with that. But all seven players ranked ahead of Leivo at this point are either going to play for the Maple Leafs next season or at least allowed an opportunity to compete for a spot.

Leivo's currently caught in a numbers game that I don't see him being able to beat this month. For now, he will have to setlle for a one spot improvement over last year.

Name birky BowerPower Burtch Chemmy clrkaitken Nikota PPP SkinnyFish 67 Sound FINAL RANK
Josh Leivo 6 10 8 9 7 9 7 10 11 8
Previous Ranking 6 9 9 11 9 12 9 11 11 9

One thing that clearly marked that we've upped the ante on the countdown is that there aren't any more big swings in votes, as evidenced by Leivo's votes being more or less the same as last year. Leivo held steady on two voters lists, fell on one, and improved a spot or two on the rest.

Did pretty well for his first year with the Marlies, and a few games in the NHL got him into my Top 10. - Bower Power

Steve (Burtch) has done some good work showing how Leivo's development path has mirrored some good players. Hopefully it continues. - PPP