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Toronto Maple Leafs top 25 under 25: Reviewing the 2017 list

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Were we wrong about Auston Matthews being #1?

Christian Bonin/TSGPhoto.com

The Top 2018 Top 25 series starts in earnest next week, and today I bring you some filler to get us over the hump. Last year we were two years into the upswing after the tank and the Maple Leafs ended up losing to the Boston Bruins in round one of the playoffs, a year after losing to the Washington Capitals in round one as well. The Toronto Marlies would go on to win the Calder Cup with many of our highly ranked players on their roster.

Let’s take a quick trip back one year and see what who we ranked.

Rinat Valiev - D
2017 Rank: 25
2017/18 team: Toronto Marlies / Montreal Canadiens / Laval Rocket
2017/18 stats: 40GP - 5G - 10A - 15Pts / 2GP - 0G - 0A - 0Pts / 5GP - 1G - 2A - 3Pts

Valiev had the support of just enough voters to crack #25 in a tie with Joseph Woll. He would play on an overstuffed Marlies blue line, and was on pace for a slightly higher scoring pace than in 2016/17 (13Pts in 47GP) when he was traded to the Montreal Canadiens in the Tomas Plekanec deal.

Poll

Would you rather have had 3 months of Plekanec or Valiev back in the system?

This poll is closed

  • 56%
    Plekanec
    (731 votes)
  • 43%
    Valiev
    (556 votes)
1287 votes total Vote Now

Joseph Woll - G
2017 Rank: 25
2017/18 team: Boston College
2017/18 stats: 30GP - 2.48GAA - .915sv%

Woll played fewer games last season for the Eagles, thanks to a suspension in November, and his stats were basically the same from last year. This put some voters off him, and his tenuous grasp at the 25th spot is in jeopardy. He also win the bronze medal at the World Juniors last season.

Garret Sparks - G
2017 Rank: 24
2017-18 team: Toronto Marlies
2017-18 Stats: 43GP - 1.79GAA - .936sv%

Sparks had an amazing season for the Marlies last year, after a kinda bad 2016-17 season. He would win the Baz Bastien award for top AHL goaltender, Harry Holmes Memorial Award for best goaltending duo with Calvin Pickard, and the Calder Cup. In hindsight we were pretty dumb at not predicting this season.

Poll

How badly did we mess this one up?

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    Super bad
    (224 votes)
  • 26%
    Pretty bad
    (285 votes)
  • 34%
    eh, who could have known?
    (370 votes)
  • 17%
    Stop trying to sabotage his career you monsters!
    (182 votes)
1061 votes total Vote Now

Eemeli Rasanen - D
2017 Rank: 23
2017-18 Team: Kingston Frontenacs
2017-18 Stats: 61GP - 5G - 28A - 33Pts

Rasanen had a very tall season in Kingston, but some injuries kept him from matching his points totals from 2016-17 (39Pts in 61GP). He’s heading back to Finland to play for Jokerit of the KHL. When you can get paid, you should go and get paid.

Poll

If you were Rasanen where would you play next season?

This poll is closed

  • 16%
    Kingston
    (178 votes)
  • 83%
    Jokiert
    (929 votes)
1107 votes total Vote Now

Yegor Korshkov - RW
2017 Rank: 22
2017-18 Team: Lokomotiv Yaroslavl
2017-18 Stats: 52GP - 8G - 18A - 26Pts

Korshkov made the jump from the low man in the lineup with Lokomotiv to moving up to playing on a secondary scoring line and getting some special teams time in as well. He’ll be in the KHL next season again, but hopefully the Leafs can make him an offer that moves him to a bigger house next summer.

Miro Aaltonen - C/LW
2017 Rank: 21
2017-18 Team: Toronto Marlies
2017-18 Stats: 64GP - 20G - 23A - 43Pts

Aaltonen came into the Leafs organization as a competitor for the 4C role, but it never panned out that way. After winning the Calder cup he packed up and moved to the KHL to play with Vityaz Podolsk.

Dmytro Timashov - W
2017 Ranks: 20
2017-18 Team: Toronto Marlies
2017-18 Stats: 67GP - 13G - 21A - 34Pts

Timashov bumped up his stats by ten points in his second pro season, and bumped up my expectations for next year.

Andrew Nielsen - D
2017 Rank: 19
2017-18 Team: Toronto Marlies
2017-18 Stats: 65GP - 6G - 20A - 26Pts

After seeing the Marlies blue line fill with competition Nielsen went out to make a name for himself by...nearly doubling his penalty minutes. He averaged just over a penalty per game, not a great look on a very competitive team.

Hey, he was just helping others learn to PK better, alright?

Kerby Rychel - W
2017 Rank: 18
2017-18 Team: Toronto Marlies / Montreal Canadiens / Laval Rocket
2017-18 Stats: 55GP - 10G - 20A - 30Pts / 4GP - 1G - 1A - 2Pts / 16GP - 8G - 4A - 12Pts

Rychel was in the middle of his second season as a Marlie when he was traded to the Habs in the Tomas Plekanec deal. He missed out on winning a Calder Cup but did get back into the NHL in Montreal. So you lose some, you lose some.

Calle Rosen - D
2017 Rank: 17
2017-18 Team: Toronto Marlies / Toronto Maple Leafs
2017-18 Stats: 62GP - 4G - 18A - 22Pts / 4GP - 0G - 1A - 1Pt

A free agent brought in over the summer, Rosen spent his season in the AHL with the Marlies - aside from a small four game stint with the Leafs. He picked up his game in the playoffs however, turning out one of the best blue line performances in the post-season.

Andreas Borgman - D
2017 Rank: 16
2017-18 Team: Toronto Maple Leafs / Toronto Marlies
2017-18 Stats: 48GP - 3G - 8A - 11Pts / 25GP - 4G - 5A - 9Pts

Borgman was up with the Leafs for half the season, and fought with some injuries as well. He found himself on the bench for all but two playoff games with the Marlies, and his spot with the Leafs isn’t guaranteed to return this fall.

Adam Brooks - C
2017 Rank: 15
2017-18 Team: Toronto Marlies
2017-18 Stats: 57GP - 8G - 11A - 19Pts

Brooks came from a 130 point junior season to the Marlies, and saw those numbers shrink down by a lot. The transition from big fish in the junior pond to minnow in the AHL ocean, was hard for Brooks, but he’s going to get the biggest chance yet next season.

Nikita Soshnikov - W
2017 Rank: 14
2017-18 Team: Toronto Maple Leafs / Toronto Marlies / St. Louis Blues
2017-18 Stats: 3GP - 0G - 0A - Pts / 19GP - 7G - 10A - 17Pts / 12GP - 1G - 1A - 2Pts

Soshnikov’s wave crashed into the rocks last season, that saw him barely play before being traded to the Blues. He’s signed on for another season in the midwest.

Jeremy Bracco - RW
2017 Rank: 13
2017-18 Team: Toronto Marlies
2017-18 Stats: 50GP - 6G - 26A - 32Pts

After winning the Memorial Cup in 2017, Bracco jumped to the AHL and scored just over 0.5PPG which wasn’t terrible. Next season we’ll want to see an improvement to make those junior points look more like the real deal and not the peak of his career.

Carl Grundstrom - W
2017 Rank: 12
2017-18 Team: Frolunda / Toronto Marlies
2017-18 Stats: 35GP - 17G - 7A - 24Pts / 22GP - 9G - 8A - 17Pts

Grundstrom came over to Canada after his SHL season ended, and he was a star for the Marlies in the playoffs. He did so well many people were already penciling him into the Leafs line up for next season. Could he do it?

Poll

Will Grundstrom start in the NHL next season

This poll is closed

  • 50%
    No, but he’ll be called up
    (675 votes)
  • 36%
    No, he needs a year in the AHL to adjust
    (486 votes)
  • 13%
    Yes, he’s ready to go
    (177 votes)
1338 votes total Vote Now

Andreas Johnsson
2017 Rank: 11
2017-18 Team: Toronto Marlies / Toronto Maple Leafs
2017-18 Stats: 54GP - 26G - 28A - 54Pts / 9GP - 2G - 1A - 3Pts

After having his named screamed as a call up all season, Johnsson made his Leafs debut at the end of the year and stuck with the team into the playoffs. He returned to the Marlies to help them on their Calder Cup run and was rewarded with the Jack A Butterfield Trophy as playoff MVP.

Travis Dermott - D
2017 Rank: 10
2017-18 Team: Toronto Marlies / Toronto Maple Leafs
2017-18 Stats: 28GP - 2G - 16A - 18Pts / 37GP - 1G - 12A - 13Pts

Dermott was called up mid-season and stuck on the Leafs blueline until they were eliminated by the Bruins. He then jumped back down to the Marlies for a Calder Cup win.

Josh Leivo - RW
2017 Rank: 9
2017-18 Team: Toronto Maple Leafs / Press Box
2017-18 Stats: 16GP - 1G - 3A - 4Pts / 66 Games NOT Played

Oh man, it was Leivo’s last year on the T25 and he spent most of it doing jack shit. Oh well. Hopefully they got you an engraved stool for the box next season.

Connor Carrick - D
2017 Rank: 8
2017-18 Team: Toronto Maple Leafs
2017-18 Stats: 47GP - 4G - 8A - Pts

An almost Leivo, Carrick sat out half the games while sharing the bottom pairing blue line. Carrick is quiet and could get more time next season. I dunno, there’s not much to say.

Timothy Liljegren - D
2017 Rank: 7
2017-18 Team: Niagara IceDogs Toronto Marlies
2017-18 Stats: 44GP - 1G - 16A - 17Pts

Whatever, he spurned the IceDogs, sucks to 2017-18 Timmy.

Connor Brown - RW
2017 Rank: 6
2017-18 Team: Toronto Maple Leafs
2017-18 Stats: 82GP - 14G - 14A - 28Pts

His second full NHL season saw his point totals drop slightly, but next year’s revamped lineup could see him get over the 30 point mark again.

Kasperi Kapanen - W
2017 Rank: 5
2017-18 Team: Toronto Marlies / Toronto Maple Leafs
2017-18 Stats: 28GP - 12G - 12A - 24Pts / 38GP - 7G - 2A - 9Pts

Like Dermott, Kapanen split the season between the Leafs and Marlies, but unlike Dermott, he wouldn’t return to the Marlies for the playoffs. Instead he would go play for Finland at the World Championships, finishing 5th.

Morgan Rielly - D
2017 Rank: 4
2017-18 Team: Toronto Maple Leafs
2017-18 Stats: 76GP - 6G - 46A - 52Pts

Rielly topped 50 points for the first time in his fifth NHL season. The former T25 #1 was still the top ranked defender, but saw himself stay at 4th behind out flashy young forwards.

Mitchell Marner - RW
2017 Rank: 3
2017-18 Team: Toronto Maple Leafs
2017-18 Stats: 82GP - 22G - 47A - 69Pts

Marner had a very nice season for the Leafs, but needs to step on the gas if he wants to actually get the $10M salary his agent keeps asking TSN to bring up.

William Nylander
2017 Rank: 2
2017-18 Team: Toronto Maple Leafs
2017-18 Stats: 82GP - 20G - 41A - 61Pts

Nylander tied his points output from 2016-17 as well as in the post season (4 points). Only eight points back of Marner for the team lead, Nylander has a lot of evidence for a long term contract extension this summer.

Auston Matthews
2017 Rank: 1
2017-18 Team: Toronto Maple Leafs
2017-18 Stats: 62GP - 34G - 29A - 63Pts

On pace for 83 points if he had played a full season, Matthews proved that the Leafs had the depth to compete - they didn’t miss a beat while Matthews was away.

Now imagine them with Tavares.

Oh yeah.


There’s the 2017 list. Most of these players will be returning, three were traded away, and a few aged out.

Monday we’ll focus on those who were booted off the list, then those who received no votes at all.