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:
Top 25 list
#25 – Eemeli Rasanen (Defense, Jokerit – KHL / Toronto Marlies – AHL)
#24 – Pontus Holmberg – Left Wing, Vaxjo HC – SHL
2018 Ranking – Not Ranked
The Toronto Maple Leafs have had success in selecting Swedes in the late rounds, picking Stanley Cup winner Carl Gunnarsson 194th overall in 2007, Andreas Johnsson 202nd overall in 2013, and Pierre Engvall 188th overall in 2014.
Another in a long line of overagers selected in recent years, Toronto traded their 2019 sixth round pick to Buffalo to obtain a sixth round at the 2018 Draft in Dallas to pick Holmberg, a 19-year-old forward who played two games in the SHL for Vaxjo, but mostly in the Swedish lower divisions in his draft year.
Holmberg played all of his sophomore season with the Lakers, scoring 10 points (3 goals, 7 assists) in 47 games and earned a spot on Team Sweden for the 2019 World Junior in Vancouver after a good showing at the Four Nations tournament last November.
The 5’11” 179 lb. forward has adequate speed, but makes up for that with offensive skills and a high hockey IQ and will likely remain in Sweden for the next few years to gain maturity and experience while the Leafs continue to evaluate him and maintain his rights.
*******If you are interested in sponsorship or advertising your business in the Greater Toronto / Southern Ontario area on this column, please send a message for more information by clicking on the “Contact” button at the top of the page.*******