December 31-in-31: Toronto Maple Leafs

Hayden Soboleski

2020-12-27

The 31-in-31 Offseason Series is an annual event here at DobberProspects! Every day in December we will be bringing you a complete breakdown of a team’s prospect depth chart, riser & fallers, and top prospect ranking. 

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The Maple Leafs are in the phase of contention where prospects are most vital. The competitive window is open while the salary cap ceiling looms, meaning that having talented contributors on cheap ELCs is crucial for success. Luckily for Toronto, they have several names below that are ready to contribute soon, plus an extensive list of longer-term projects stewing in the system. 

 

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GRADUATING TO NHL 

  • Mikko Lehtonen isn’t really a “prospect”, but the 26-year-old reigning KHL Defenseman of the Year will be joining the NHL for the first time after signing as a UFA. 
  • Alexander Barabanov is also stretching the definition of “prospect” as a 26-year-old free agent but will be seeing his first NHL games this season. 
  • Nicholas Robertson was originally in the “On the Cusp” section below, but the Maple Leafs withholding him from Team USA at the WJC indicates legitimate intention of keeping him in the lineup. He’s worthy of a spot, and I think he keeps one, but in a weird season like this there’s always a chance he gets loaned to another pro league in preparation for “the real thing” in 2021-22. 

 

ON THE CUSP 

  • Rasmus Sandin is NHL-ready. He saw 28 NHL games in 2019-20 and was a reliable blueliner and even one of the more physical presences. He should be in the “graduating” list above but that isn’t a guarantee thanks to the depth in front of him. The expanded roster and taxi squads should secure him playing time. 
  • Denis Malgin wasn’t overly noticeable after being acquired by the Leafs, but he’s still just 23 and showed strong potential as a depth scorer in Florida. He’s on a cheap contract and has a shot at RW4 out of camp. A very likely “Taxi Squad” member. 
  • Adam Brooks had cups of coffee in 2019-20 and looked worthy of a spot as 4C. Since then, a concussion left him out of the postseason bubble and the Leafs have beefed up the bottom-six, most likely squashing his hopes of a real chance. Even an appearance on the “Taxi Squad” is questionable given the depth. 

 

GRADUATING FROM JR/NCAA TO PRO

  • Semyon Der-Arguchintsev has been on loan in the KHL and has looked pro-ready so far with 5 points in 10 games in limited ice time. He has sustained a knee injury however and is out for a few weeks. 
  • Filip Kral has been on loan in the Czech leagues (Tiers 1 and 2). Given the logjam on the AHL blueline, there’s a decent chance he remains in Europe for the remainder of 2020-21, but he is on a fresh ELC so a Marlies tryout will happen eventually.