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2020 PPP T25U25: It’s time to talk prospects

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It’s a long wait for the draft this year, so the cart is coming before the horse, and we’re rating the Top 25 Under 25 Maple Leafs prospects now.

2019 NHL Scouting Combine
Before he was our favourite prospect, he was just one of many at the combine.
Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

Audrey Hepburn said “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” And that’s what prospects are, the hopes and dreams for future years. Or in Nick Robertson’s case, next month. The future and the present of the Toronto Maple Leafs is encapsulated in the Top 25 Under 25. In this upside down year, where the draft is months away in an offseason that might overlap Thanksgiving (either flavour), now is the time we can sit down quietly and soberly and carefully reflect on the prospects. As is tradition.

We’ve been doing the T25U25 since 2012 at PPP, and this will be the tenth list we all vote on and argue over. A lot has changed about the team in those years, and we’ll put up the nine-list summary later this week, so we can look that over and laugh at ourselves. A lot has changed at PPP in those years too, but the T25 will stay largely unchanged this year, although seldo is very busy, so you might see less of him than you’re used to.

Since this isn’t exactly the lazy days of late July and August, we won’t draw this out as much, and we have fewer prospects to talk about than there have been in recent years. Many players aged off the list, the draft picks are just ephemeral ideas as opposed to real people, and there hasn’t been a crop of 24-year-old free agents signed to muddy the waters.

I think those can be positives for this year’s T25. We’re going to have to zero in harder on the actual prospects, not players like Ilya Mikheyev or Alexander Kerfoot. While those two were young enough to deserve to be ranked under the rules of this game, new guys that age make this harder without necessarily adding much to our understanding of the Leafs development system.

Over the years, the top few names on the list have always been in the NHL, or were just about to be, but in the last few years as the team got younger, the T25 became an exercise in measuring a prospect against a fourth line NHLer. That’s a meaningful exercise to a degree, but it’s a lot less fun than just measuring each prospect against each other.

Without changing our entire T25 tradition, this year gives us an opportunity to look at drafted prospects more closely while the usual suspects sit atop the list.

Eligibility

All players on the Toronto Maple Leafs reserve list whose 25th birthday falls after July 1, 2020 are on the eligibility list. The reserve list includes all drafted players the team still holds exclusive signing rights to, unsigned RFAs and players on NHL contracts.

No player on an AHL contract is on the Maple Leafs reserve list. They are nearby and known to the team, but they are not Leafs prospects. There are a lot of them, too, since the AHL teams have been free to sign players to AHL deals. If a player on an AHL deal gets an ELC with the Leafs, only then will they be considered.

Gone This Year

There are a lot of exits and not so many entrances, and a lot of the exits came from trades. Last year’s #5, Alexander Kerfoot, has aged out, as has #7 Andreas Johnsson. Trevor Moore was traded, making it three names gone out of the 2019 top 10.

Also aged out are Nic Petan, Ilya Mikheyev, and Frederik Gauthier. A few others who have not been ranked recently have aged out or been traded.

Since the NHL did not actually delay the June 1 deadline for signing rights expiration this year, two names just came off the list: Riley Stotts and Zach Bouthillier. Bouthillier has committed to Canadian university hockey, but Stotts’s ultimate fate is unknown.

New Names

Normally we have half a dozen or more draft picks to add to this eligibility list, although not all that many recently-drafted players make the cut to the T25. Last year there were only two just-drafted players on the list, with Robertson landing at a controversial 11th place and Mikko Kokkonen in the bottom section where we put the people we’re not sure about. This year we’ve taken steps to account for the lack of a draft, as you’ll see in the list below.

Also new are Denis Malgin and Max Veronneau. Both players were added in trades late in the regular season, with Veronneau, a career AHLer, playing only three games for the Marlies. Veronneau is the oldest player on this list, and we’ll delve deeper into the makeup of this year’s crop of eligible players in coming days. He is an unsigned RFA, so he fulfills the eligibility criteria even if we don’t really expect anyone to vote for him.

The List

The community vote will open very soon, and we’ll have more information on who is voting this year, and when we’ll start posting to share with you soon as well.

And now the list. It has 39 entries and 35 names, start planning your T25 now.

2020 T25U25 Eligibility List

Player 2019 Rank Birth Date Nationality Position
Player 2019 Rank Birth Date Nationality Position
Auston Matthews 1 September 17, 1997 USA C
Mitch Marner 2 May 5, 1997 Canada W
William Nylander 3 May 1, 1996 Sweden W/C
Kasperi Kapanen 4 July 23, 1996 Finland W
Rasmus Sandin 6 March 7, 2000 Sweden LD
Travis Dermott 8 December 22, 1996 Canada LD
Timothy Liljegren 9 April 30, 1999 Sweden RD
Nicholas Robertson 11 September 11, 2001 USA W
Jeremy Bracco 12 March 17, 1997 USA W
Mac Hollowell 15 September 26, 1998 Canada RD
Joseph Woll 16 July 12, 1998 USA G
Ian Scott 17 January 11, 1999 Canada G
Pierre Engvall 18 May 31, 1996 Sweden W/C
Adam Brooks 19 May 6, 1996 Canada C
Mikko Kokkonen 20 January 18, 2001 Finland LD
Egor Korshkov 21 July 10, 1996 Russia W
Semyon Der-Arguchintsev 22 September 15, 2000 Russia C/W
Joseph Duszak 25 July 22, 1997 USA RD
Max Veronneau NR December 12, 1995 Canada W
Denis Malgin NR January 18, 1997 Switzerland W
Vladimir Bobylev NR April 18, 1997 Russia W
Jesper Lindgren NR May 19, 1997 Sweden RD
Nikolai Chebykin NR August 1, 1997 Russia W
Kristian Rubins NR December 11, 1997 Latvia LD
Vladislav Kara NR April 20, 1998 Russia C
JD Greenway NR April 27, 1998 USA LD
Eemeli Rasanen NR March 6, 1999 Finland RD
Pontus Holmberg NR March 9, 1999 Sweden C/W
Ryan O’Connell NR April 25, 1999 Canada LD
Nicholas Abruzzese NR June 4, 1999 USA C
Filip Kral NR October 20, 1999 Czech Republic LD
Semyon Kizimov NR January 19, 2000 Russia C/W
Kalle Loponen NR March 13, 2001 Finland RD
Mikhail Abramov NR March 26, 2001 Russia C
Michael Koster NR April 13, 2001 USA LD
2020 Toronto 4th-round pick NR September 15, 2002
2020 Vegas 4th-round pick NR September 15, 2002
2020 Vegas 5th-round pick NR September 15, 2002
2020 2nd-round pick NR September 15, 2002