Criteria: Needs to be 25 or under on January 29th
Note: All stats as of January 29th
All Star Team 1
Left Wings on team one:
The case for their choosing:
Zach Hyman: Love him or hate him, he’s the only full time NHLer on here, of course he’s getting number one.
Andreas Johnsson: Johnsson is currently lighting the AHL on fire, at the time I’m writing this he has 32 points in 39 games. If he wasn’t on this squad I’d be lit on fire by Leafs Nation.
Josh Leivo: Apparently you don’t age 50x as fast when there’s a hashtag called for freeing you from Babcock Prison (Former inmates include Frank Corrado serving a 25 to life, Nikita Soshnikov and Alexey Marchenko serving 5 year sentences, plus Seth Griffith serving a brief 30 day sentence). Even though it’s like he never plays, he’s at 21 points in 53 games, not bad for the NHL, eh?
Kerby Rychel: Although he’s fallen from his pace last year, Rychel is still doing respectable in the AHL, producing at a point every 2 games at the time I write this. Did I mention he already has NHL experience?
Left Wings on Team Two
The Case for Their Choosing:
Timashov isn’t doing bad in the AHL, he’s doing much better than last year. He’s already close to reaching last year’s point total in 20 less games!
Nikolai Chebykin: Chebykin has done well in Russia’s second tier, scoring about a point every two games, not bad for a 20 year old. He also scored 3 points in 2 games in a stint in Russia’s third tier league.
Trevor Moore: Moore’s numbers have taken a significant dip since last year, or else he’d have a spot on the top line. Moore’s 13 points in 41 games as I write this don’t exactly pop off of the page, but they’re still an impact for the 22 year old to have in the pros. How about we blame the sophomore slump?
Pierre Engvall: Engvall’s 4 points in 8 games in his first SHL season made me routinely call him a future Leaf before he was injured. Since coming back he hasn’t produced as well, but isn’t far off with 7 points in 19 games as of when I write this.
Nolan Vesey: Vesey is already a bit off of his pace from last year at 16 points in 26 games. Now I’m no college hockey expert but considering there are players with double his points is alarming. I can’t even defend him with the “He’s playing against men!” argument. I feel bad for giving him the last spot on this team, but he’s more of a reminder that we totally missed out on his brother Jimmy than he is a piece of the Leafs.
Right Wings on Team One
The case for their choosing
William Nylander: Nylander’s slipped off his rookie season pace, but it seems to be a minor sophomore slump, you barely notice on the ice!
Mitch Marner: Marner only has two less points than Nylander but recovered from at least a million slumps. I’ll call Nylander and Marner my 1A and 1B, but I still think Marner needs a bit more consistency, he also slipped off of his pace from last year along with occasionally slumping (cause who cares about my fantasy hockey team right).
Kasperi Kapanen: I feel like it’s against the rules to put Kapanen before a full time NHLer, but Kapanen deserves it. Kapanen is so close to a points per game pace in the AHL (which he accomplished last year), and has 2 goals (no assists) in 8 games of play this year. Someone tell me Kapanen doesn’t deserve this spot, plus a spot on the Leafs.
Connor Brown: Brown is a full time NHLer, scoring 20 goals last year. This year though, he’s dipped a bit. He has half the points he had last year, and we passed the halfway mark a while ago, not to mention the fact that he has double the goals he’s had assists? Am I overusing sophomore slump or what?
Right Wings on Team Two
The Case for their choosing
Jeremy Bracco: I tried as hard as possible to bring Bracco on Team One, I just couldn’t do it! Bracco has 11 points in 25 games, not bad for a rookie in the AHL, but it wasn’t enough to get him on the first team! Of course he has lots of potential, for him to be on the second team shows the depth of the Leafs young right wingers.
Nikita Soshnikov: Soshnikov is someone we don’t talk about being in Babcock limbo, he’s played 14 AHL games and 3 NHL games this season, he’s one of those inbetweeners. In those 14 AHL games he’s scored at an almost point per game pace. Unfortunately I have a feeling the pattern in his career will continue and will just be out of luck in a few years with the Leafs.
Yegor Korshkov: We don’t talk about this dude enough, he’s close to a point every two games in the KHL at only 21! In the AHL/ECHL/Other Euro Teams, sure I can use the playing against old people debate but man, he’s playing the second best (or best, depends on your POV) league in the world! Unlike everyone else so far, he hasn’t actually started playing pro in North America, so we can’t be 100% sure he comes or not.
Martins Dzierkals: Earlier this season, I was so close to wanting to writing something about this man, he seemed to disappear off the face of earth! The best thing I could find is that he may be having visa issues. Fortunately, he’s back in action. He had a stint in the AHL (4 games, scoreless), but is now lighting the ECHL on fire! 20 points in 24 games in his first year of pro, not too shabby.
J.J Piccinich: Piccinich did really well in the OHL, scoring over a point per game and was the captain of the Knights. Due to the stack of talent in the AHL though, he’s stuck in the ECHL. Unlike the other ECHLer on this list (Dzierkals), he isn’t doing super good, but not bad either, scoring at over a point every 2 games.
Fabrice Herzog: Herzog actually played a season in the Q, and 5 games in the AHL a couple years back, but we haven’t seen him since. This season, he’s at a pace of 0.35 points per game. He’s playing in the Swiss’ top league, so that isn’t bad. I don’t think with the Leafs talent he’ll ever play for the NHL team, but we’ll see. Did I mention he’ll apparently be playing in the Olympics this year? Not the prospect we wanted to see go but great!
These extras really shouldn’t be extras, we have an Olympian and former Knights captain that isn’t fair.
Centres on Team One
Case to be Chosen:
Auston Matthews: Auston Matthews, NEXT!
Miro Aaltonen: Even after Moore was literally SIGNED to be the 4th centre, Aaltonen slowly crept behind him, and almost snagged the role in preseason. But for now, he’s scoring at over a point per game in the AHL.
Frederik Gauthier: The “Goat” has been a routine call up, scoring a goal in 9 games up this season. Down in the AHL, he’s at over a point every 3 game pace, not good, but not too bad.
Vladislav Kara: Kara has played in three Russian leagues this season already. In the KHL, he played 11 scoreless games (Hey, he made it to Russia’s top league.) In Russia’s AHL, the VHL, he scored at a pace of a point every game, not bad. In Russia’s junior league/ECHL, he’s at 3 points in 2 games. The only issue here is if he wants to come over or not.
Centres on Team Two
Case to be Chosen
Adam Brooks: Last year, he scored at almost 2 points per game in the big O, amazing! This season hasn’t been as good, scoring almost 0.19 points per game. It’s only his first pro season, I’d say give him time.
Ryan McGregor: In over 20 less games, he’s matched last years point total in the OHL. I think this is a good sign.
Jean Dupuy: I’m going to be completely honest, I looked at the Leafs roster and the players the Leafs have rights to, there weren’t enough centres, so I scrambled and checked the AHL roster, and found Dupuy. Dupuy has actually played most of the year in the ECHL, scoring nearly a point per game. The former alternate captain of the Rochester Americans has 2 goals (and no assists) in 10 games with the Marlies
Joshua Winquist: None of these players are currently Marlies yet I found them on the roster, weird. Winquist can be considered an AHL veteran even though he’s only 24. This season though, he’s found himself in a less familiar scenario, the ECHL. He’s been doing great though, scoring at over a point per game.
Barely got through that, no extras please.
Left handed defensemen on Team One
Cases for their choosing:
Morgan Rielly: Holy cow Rielly’s under 25! With his minutes I assumed we ran him into his late 20s! I don’t think the Leafs No. 1 needs explaining.
Travis Dermott: I think it’s fair to call Dermott one of the best rookies on the Leafs right now. He’s also been the most beloved in his 8 games with the Leafs so far.
Andreas Borgman: Borgman has been criticized by some in his rookie season so far, mostly due to the penalties he takes, which is something to work on for him, otherwise, for a rookie he’s pretty solid
Left Handed Defensemen on Team Two
The Case for their choosing:
Andrew Nielsen: Nielsen has been a solid defenseman over the past two seasons for the Marlies. Expect him on the Leafs soon.
Calle Rosen: Rosen was signed along with Borgman, and during the preseason it seemed like a coinflip to see who got a roster spot. Borgman won. Rosen has still played a few games for the Leafs, it seems like pretty soon, Borgman and Rosen will be wearing the same jersey.
Keaton Middleton: The young, big defenseman has shown promise as captain of the Saginaw Spirit, he was even chosen to be part of Team OHL in the CHL vs Russia series. I feel like this low on the list, he may be an NHLer, just not with the Leafs sadly.
Extras (Who wants to form a Team Three?)
The Case of Their Choosing
Rinat Valiev: Poor Rinat Valiev was supposed to be a Leaf once, then the flood of prospects came. He’s still solid on the Marlies, and he was even called up this year, he just didn’t play a game. It’s like he’s in Babcock limbo, but it’s not really Babcock’s fault, and he gets to actually play.
Fedor Gordeev: Gordeev’s value is hurt by the fact that the poor thing plays for the Flint Firebirds. I don’t really know much about him, but I do think he has NHL quality, it may not be with the Leafs though. Hey, at least the Leafs have some use for the guy for now. Maybe we can move him to forward?
Martin Marincin: Apparently he doesn’t turn 26 for a few weeks, dang it. Marincin is one of the most hated defensemen in Leafs history, at least in my opinion, so this is very biased. He’s proven himself to be an NHL defenseman, so how about he shows another team?
J.D Greenway: Greenway probably doesn’t deserve to be down here. He missed the first half of this season with personal issues, so I don’t have a huge sample size, and I don’t know much about college hockey, so there’s that. He may have a future in the NHL, I just don’t know about with the Leafs.
Ryan O’Connell: He’s only last because of the league he plays in, the BCHL, he plays in the NCAA next year, so that may make this easier to find. For now, I don’t see him in an NHL jersey. We won’t see much of him for the rest of this season, he’s apparently out with a broken arm.
Right Handed Defensemen for Team One
The Case for Their Choosing
Timothy Liljegren: The Leafs snagged him last draft, and he’s expected to help the Leafs weak/old right side drastically. Liljegren is doing well on the Marlies, only a matter of time now.
Eemeli Rasanen: The humongous defender can easily crush anyone who dares to pass. The Frontenacs alternate captain also racks up quite the assist total. Who else wants to imagine Rasanen, Liljegren and Zaitsev on the right side one day.
Connor Carrick: The only NHLer on this list probably doesn’t deserve to be here, but he’s probably used to it by now. He’s proven that he’s an NHLer, I just don’t know how long with the Leafs. With Liljegren and Rasanen flying in soon, what would his role be? Hey, that’s one NHLer under 25.
Right Handed Defensemen for Team Two
The Case for Their Choosing
Jesper Lindgren: Lindgren spent quite a while in the MODO Hockey organization, but currently plays in Finland’s top league. It’s really nice to see him already getting used to playing against people much older than him. He’ll be an NHLer sure, but looking at the above “Team”, plus the fact I couldn’t even add Nikita Zaitsev (later), seems unlikely it’ll be with the Leafs.
Nicolas Mattinen: Mattinen is scoring at a much better pace this season than before, which is nice to see. The 6’4 defender seems like NHL quality as well, but like before, it might not be with the Leafs. We’ll have to see though, he recently got traded from the lowly Firebirds to the Bulldogs, who knows!
Alex Gudbranson: Yeah, I don’t know either. Apparently the Leafs, and Marlies need younger RDs. I reached all the way down to the ECHL for Alex Gudbranson. I don’t exactly know much about him, other than he’s 23 and has quite some pro experience. I don’t see him as an NHLer though, forget a Leaf, but we’ll see.
Note: “Where’s Nikita Zaitsev and Justin Holl!” Both just barely missed the cut, at 26/27, they’re young, but not young enough sadly. Otherwise this list would be much stronger.
Goalies for Team One
Case for their choosing
Garret Sparks: If you told me earlier this year that Sparks would rank higher than Calvin freaking Pickard, I’d ask you A. Calvin Pickard’s a Maple Leaf? And B. Are you out of your mind? Sparks has done amazing though in the AHL, but was snubbed for the AHL All-Stars. Sparks leads the AHL in GAA, but Pickard is second, so it may just be the Marlies. Sparks also leads the AHL in save percentage. Not to mention he leads the AHL in shutouts and is second in wins, with 6 less games than the leader. The former Solar Bear is on fire!
Calvin Pickard: The Marlie is second in the AHL in GAA, and 6th in save percentage. Pickard should probably be in the NHL right now, but the Leafs are so good right now, maybe next year.
Goalies for Team Two
Case for their choosing
Joseph Woll: Woll helped Team USA to gold in the WJC, and is over .900 save percentage in the NCAA. On any other team he’d be a top prospect, but it’s the Leafs. I’ll say 5 years until he’s an NHL starter, hopefully with the Leafs. Anyone else feeling a Woll/Sparks 1A and 1B tandem in two years?
Kasimir Kaskisuo: I don’t feel great putting him all the way down here. Kaskisuo has done solid as an AHL goalie on loan to the Chicago Wolves. Kaskisuo has an NHL future in my opinion, just not with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Ian Scott is actually in the top 20 in the WHL in save percentage, he has starter/backup potential. No way he fits on the Leafs though, at least looking at the moment.
Note: Goalies are weird. Potential in other leagues rarely translates into other leagues as anyone expects. Someone doing well in the AHL/Junior/College may not do as well in the NHL. It’s the same with other positions but much more with goaltenders. The only goalies so far who are on this list and have proven they can survive the NHL are Calvin Pickard, and Garret Sparks to a lesser extent.
Forwards for Team One
Defensemen for Team One
Goalies on Team One
Forwards on Team Two
Defensemen on Team Two
Goalies on Team Two
Man the Leafs have a ton of prospects. What do you think they should do with everyone not on Team One, or maybe even members of Team One? Did I underrate a few players?