The Toronto Maple Leafs organization has drafted and developed a number of youngsters currently playing in the NHL, but with players like Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson and Travis Dermott on their roster, the next step for the club is to keep replenishing the prospect pool to provide the Leafs with youngsters who can step up and replace veterans who retire, depart via free agency or are traded.
As we did last summer, we will rank the club’s top 25 prospects over the next few weeks based on their progress in either the NCAA, CHL, Europe or the American Hockey League and their potential to make the Leafs roster and make a contribution in the future.
Players are not eligible for the list if they are 25 years old or over, or if they have played more than 30 NHL games:
After selecting Timothy Liljegren in the first round at the 2017 NHL Draft in Chicago, the Leafs went for another right-handed blueliner at #59 overall, selecting Rasanen from the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs.
The 6’7”, 226 lb. defenseman likens his style to that of Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen and uses his size to his advantage along the boards and is known for being an effective passer. After a good first season in the OHL, Rasanen took a slight step back in his second year with the Frontenacs (scoring only 33 points in 61 games) and was a late cut from Team Finland’s World Junior squad in December 2018.
The 20-year-old opted to return to Finland rather than playing another year in the OHL to play against tougher competition and with no clear path to consistent playing time with youngsters Liljegren and Rasmus Sandin ahead on the Toronto Marlies depth chart. That plan did not work out, as Rasanen fell victim to the numbers game and injuries and played only 17 games for Jokerit and lower division Klekko-Vanta before joining the Marlies in March on a professional tryout.
The Leafs have yet to sign Rasanen to an entry-level contract and may not be in any rush to do so, since his rights extend indefinitely if he plays in Europe next season. His physical attributes may intrigue Toronto's management, but they will have to see some signs wherever he plays next season to put him on the path to earning an ELC.
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