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The Toronto Maple Leafs organization has drafted and developed a number of youngsters currently playing in the NHL (Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, Pierre Engvall, and Justin Holl), but the club under GM Kyle Dubas has 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 year, we will rank the club’s top prospects over the upcoming weeks based on their progress in either the NCAA, CHL, Europe, ECHL or AHL and their potential to make the Leafs roster and make a contribution in the future.
Players are eligible for the list if they have not played more than 40 NHL games:
#40 - Vladislav Kara – LW (Yugra - VHL)
#39 - Kalle Loponen – D (Koo Koo Kouvola/JyP HT – Finland SM-Liiga)
#38 - Jeremy McKenna – RW (Wichita – ECHL, Toronto – AHL)
#37 - John Fusco – D (Harvard – NCAA)
#36 - Noel Hoefenmayer – D (Newfoundland – ECHL, Toronto – AHL)
#35 - Ryan Chyzowski - LW (Newfoundland - ECHL, Toronto - AHL)
#34 - Braeden Kressler - C (Flint - OHL)
#33 - Nikita Grebyonkin - RW (Stalnye Lisy - MHL, Magnitogorsk - KHL)
#32 - Vyacheslav Peksa - G (Ibris Kazan - MHL)
#31 - Dryden McKay - G (Minnesota Duluth - NCAA)
#30 - Bobby McMann - C (Newfoundland - ECHL, Toronto - AHL)
#29 - Pavel Gogolev – LW (Newfoundland - ECHL, Toronto – AHL)
#28 - Joe Miller – C (Chicago – USHL)
#27 - Veeti Miettinen – RW (St. Cloud St. – NCAA)
#26 - Brandon Lisowsky - LW (Saskatoon - WHL)
#25 - Max Ellis - RW (Notre Dame - NCAA, Toronto - AHL)
#24 - Axel Rindell – D (Karpat – Finland SM-Liiga)
#23 - Mac Hollowell - D (Toronto – AHL)
#22 - Artur Akhtyamov – G (Ak Bars Kazan – MHL/VHL/KHL)
#21 - Semyon Der-Argushintsev - C (Toronto - AHL)
#20 - Curtis Douglas - C (Toronto – AHL)
#19 - Mikhail Abramov – C (Toronto – AHL)
#18 - Dennis Hildeby - G (Farjestad - SHL)
#17 - Ty Voit – LW (Sarnia – OHL)
#16 - Filip Kral - D (Toronto - AHL)
#15 - Nick Moldenhauer - RW (Chicago - USHL)
#14 - Rodion Amirov – LW (Ufa Salavat – KHL)
#13 - Ryan Tverberg – C (Connecticut – NCAA)
#12 - Joseph Woll – G (Toronto – AHL/NHL)
#11 - Mikko Kokkonen – D (Pelicans – Finland SM-Liiga)
#10 - Fraser Minten - C (Kamloops - WHL)
#9 - William Villeneuve – D (Saint John – QMJHL)
#8 - Dmitry Ovchinnikov – LW (Sibir Novosibirsk – MHL/KHL, Toronto - AHL)
#7 - Roni Hirvonen – C (HIFK Helsinki – Finland SM-Liiga)
#6 - Alex Steeves – C (Toronto - AHL/NHL)
#5 - Nick Abruzzese - C (Harvard – NCAA/Toronto - NHL)
The Toronto Maple Leafs have had success in selecting Swedes in the late rounds, picking Carl Gunnarsson 194th overall in 2007, Andreas Johnsson 202nd overall in 2013, and Pierre Engvall 188th overall in 2014.
In 2018, Toronto followed a recent trend of selecting overagers, swapping sixth-round picks with Buffalo to select Swedish winger Pontus Holmberg. The 5’11” forward split time between junior and the lower tier Hockeyettan in his draft year, but was elevated for two SHL games with Vaxjo.
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.
In his second full season, he upped his totals to 17 points (7 goals, 10 assists) in 52 games and led Vaxjo in plus/minus (+18) and his offensive output continued to grow in 2021, with 23 points (9 goals, 14 assists) in 45 games and leading his club to an SHL Championship with 14 points (7 goals, 7 assists) in 14 playoff games. That performance earned the winger a two-year entry-level contract with the Leafs.
Last season, Holmberg posted a career-high 41 points (11 goals, 30 assists) in 46 games and after Vaxjo was eliminated, the 23-year-old finished out the year with four points in six games with the Toronto Marlies.
It is expected that Holmberg will see full-time duty in the AHL to start the season, but if he is able to show positive results in his first full season in North America, he could be in the mix for an NHL call-up.