This week we reached the top 10 players in our Maple Leafs Top 25 Under 25. Next week is the grand finale. You won’t believe who is number 1! For now, let;s look back on this past week’s crop of prospects.
#10 - Travis Dermott
Raw Charge’s stats guy Loserpoints had this to say about his stats:
Dermott’s shot rate is firmly in that low-end first pair range, which is encouraging. All around, that's a solid profile for a player in his first professional season. Not spectacular but definitely reasonable for a first year.
Dermott had to spend some of the season rehabilitating from injury. He came back in December, and Marlies Coach Sheldon Keefe noted he was taking some time to adjust back to the game. By the playoffs he looked like he had not only done that, but improved beyond where he was at the start of the season.
Is it enough to make the Maple Leafs given the highly competitive race for those roster spots? Fulemin thinks so.
Dermott's highlight reel to me looks sneaky-good--he doesn't have an outstanding slapshot like Nielsen or Rosen, but he's very good at sliding away from the opposition in the top half of the offensive zone and then deploying a little wrist shot that he gets on target. It reminds me a little of Jake Gardiner's powerplay work.
Dermott has the biggest training camp of his pro-hockey career coming up. Rich Clune has made sure he has at least got one thing perfect: a Lou Lamoriello approved haircut.
#9 - Josh Leivo
Leivo has the distinction of being the only player to be on every one of our Top 25 Under 25 lists since we started them in the summer of 2012.
Katya summarises his improved ranking on our list, noting it’s not necessarily a vote of confidence.
When the whole list is out, we can dig into what our votes reveal in a more in depth way, but it’s not giving much away to say that the gap between Leivo and Dermott, Johnsson and Grundström is not large. You can consider them nearly tied. But the gap between Leivo and number eight is both steeper in terms of votes and in terms of player quality. The gap between the AHL and the NHL is contained in that space, and I’m not convinced Leivo ever will cross it.
So in that sense, even though this is a higher ranking than he’s had in a long time, it’s not a big improvement. He has one more training camp to earn a spot on the team rather than the press box, and then if he doesn’t, well, 24 is when you’ve either made it or washed out for good. Either way, he won’t be on our list next summer.
#8 - Connor Carrick
He may be the smartest player in the room. At least that’s the impression you get when you interview Carrick. He’s a savant of the game, but what about his own abilities?
Carrick is a volume shooter. Nothing more. At least, that's what many seem to think.
Kevin Pappeti summarised the situation
He owns a hard slap shot and is adept at firing a quick and accurate breakout pass. His scoring numbers look bound to improve, and his ability to generate clean zone exits allows Toronto’s forwards to spend more time in the offensive end. All in all, he owns relatively valuable skill-set, but he does not carry the same degree of potential impact as the players in my top five.
Let’s not lose sight of the fact that being ranked at 8 in the Top 25 Under 25 for this Maple Leafs team is a real recognition of talent.
Janik Beichler suggests a better way to use him this coming season.
Pairing him with new free-agent acquisition Ron Hainsey might have been a good step in the right direction. Hainsey is an experienced shutdown defender who could give Carrick the freedom he needs. But even if he builds the third pairing with Martin Marincin, which is expected, Carrick will likely be relied on as the player who can jump in on the attack and play a two-way game similar to Gardiner's.
And if that happens, watch out for a heavy increase in production.
He also looks like Clark Kent, ready to transform into Superman at any moment, yet a Superman who is terrible at table tennis.
#7 - Timothy Liljegren
Our shiny new first round draft pick arrives at number 7. But where will he play next season? He could go back to the SHL, but it is appearing that he may stay here in North America.
When asked about Liljegren’s involvement in preseason games, Lasse Mauritzson, media and communications manager for Rögle, said “Timothy is Toronto’s player and will not participate in any games.”
So will he play here in Toronto with the Marlies? Or possibly with the Leafs?
Kevin Pappeti reminds you not to get too excited just yet.
He is currently built like an 18-year old prospect, rather than an NHL player, and he is less physically mature than fellow first round picks such as Cal Foote, Cale Makar, and Juuso Valimaki. He must get stronger and improve in his own end in order to reach his full potential, but he owns an intriguing skill set to build off of thanks to his skating and puck handling skill. Fortunately, as one of the younger players in this year’s draft, there is still plenty of time for him to add strength and fine tune the rest of his game.
Yet he is reminded of a certain player who played for the Maple Leafs this season.
Liljegren reminds me a little bit of Kasperi Kapanen, despite the fact that they play two different positions. Just like Liljegren, Kapanen was drafted as a top-end skater who needed to get stronger, improve in his own end, and develop into a more complete player. His speed and skill combination always gave Kapanen top-6 potential, and the Leafs worked with him to add strength, improve his two-way game, and become a reliable penalty killer.
Let’s just collectively sploosh over this video.
#6 - Connor Brown
What can Brown do for you? That was the fundamental question for many of our voters. Could Brown repeat his 20 goal performance from last season?
Scott Wheeler thinks so.
Of last year's 'second-tier' rookies, I think Brown has the best chance of repeating his production (or even taking it a step further).
If he and Kadri remain as a pair, I don't think it's out of the question to see another 20 goals from Brown. That's exciting.
Arvind isn’t sure we will see those goals.
Connor Brown is a good NHL player. Of that, there is no doubt. However, I think that his level of play is lower than his scoring numbers would indicate. He shot 14.4% last year - we have no evidence that he can sustain that. He shoots from good areas of the ice, but so do many players (Zach Hyman is an example). Most don't end up shooting 14%. He played essentially all of his ice-time with either Nazem Kadri or Auston Matthews, meaning he was playing with either the best or second best Leafs forward at all times. When with Matthews, in particular, the line went on a bit of a PDO run. In fact, if you compare zone, score, and venue adjusted shot metrics for the lines Brown was on, they both perform worse than the equivalent line when he was replaced by William Nylander. There's no shame in being outperformed by Willie, but I think it shows that Brown wasn't really driving the bus on those lines.
Brown also has a cat named Mr. Samuelson with its own Twitter account. This is worth at least a +3 Hockey in my book.
I give you people gold & get no love. Twitter don't deserve me. I'm out ✌ ️bout to take a fat cat nap. pic.twitter.com/ozQLeMbeOm— Mr. Samuelson (@MrSamuelson) December 13, 2016
The top 5 starts Monday at 8:00 am. Both number 2 and 3 will be revealed on Wednesday morning, leaving the big reveal of
Keaton Middleton as number 1 on Thursday! Who will be number 1 this year?
Which ranking do you think is the off the most?
This poll is closed
Connor Brown at 6
Timothy Liljegren at 7
Connor Carrick at 8
Josh Leivo at 9
Travis Dermott at 10
None. PPP is perfect, as usual.