As the Toronto Maple Leafs had so many good opportunities in their system, General Manager Kyle Dubas received some calls from the teams, trying to see one of them out of his hands. A few years ago, Leafs president Brendan Shanahan said they were going to build this team by draft, and they did that work.
Since so many star players like Aston Mathews, Mitch Morner and William Nylander have come out of the draft, Leafs knows that nurturing homegrown talent is essential, and it will help them win now and on the road. Dubas is crazy to trade some possibilities in the system because they have a serious NHL impact on the road. Without further ado, I think the leaves are untouchable here.
The first chance on this list is none other than Nick Robertson. In my opinion, he is their best chance. Robertson has already proven to many that he can grow as a dynamic NHL player. With the Leafs, who finished 53rd overall in the 2019 NHL Draft, drafting him in the second round, he has already proven he is a thief.
What impressed me most about Robertson was the way he could put the puck in the back of the net. His instincts and the way he can find space in the slot are great. He is always open, and when he receives a pass, he can easily put it in the back of the net using his deadly shot. Playing with the Leafs in his short time In the play-in round Against the Columbus Blue Jackets, he scored his first NHL goal and proved he could maintain his own in the NHL.
Robertson is also good on the puck’s defensive side. In the three games he has played with the Blue Jackets, he has averaged 2.3 takeaways a game and has shown that he can effectively close passing lanes and break down scoring opportunities. When he is able to block an opponent’s pass, he quickly turns the puck into the ice. He feels the game well and has proven so far.
In the future, I think Robertson Leafs could be a solid contributor to the Top Six. Although there aren’t many openings in the top six at this point, Robertson definitely has the talent to go for overnight Maple Leafs. Since he averages 1:02 power play time in the playoffs, I can see him getting some time in the power play. All in all, he was one of the brightest young players in the Leafs system at the time, and I don’t think Dubas would ever think about trading him.
One of the new Leafs opportunities, Rodion Amirov really impressed throughout the year. Consistent as one of the best players to qualify for the 2020 NHL Draft, he has been a solid choice for the Leafs for 15 years. Salawat Yulev, currently playing for the Continental Hockey League (KHL), has three goals and added three assists for six points in 19 games.
What really impresses Amirov is how good he is with the puck on his stick. In the offensive zone, he uses his skating ability in and out of traffic and is great at locating team members in the slot for scoring opportunity. Another strong asset is his shot. Whether it is in the slot or face-off, he can handle the pass and rifle a tough, accurate shot towards the net in the moment. At 19, his numbers in the KHL are impressive, and he’s getting better over time.
While he was not ready to jump into the NHL for at least a few more years, Salawat Yulev gave Ufa Amirov a solid role. On average 15:30 snow time, his coaches have full confidence in him to go out and play his own game. As the sport has already become more skilled and fast approaching, Amirov has all the qualities that a team would want in a young opportunity. No one knows what the future holds for him, he is a bright young talent, and Dubas makes a bad decision when he thinks about doing business.
The oldest player on this list, Ramus Sandin, is no longer considered a chance by some, but he’s still a young player, he has not yet settled in Maple Leafs, so I have no problem with him on this list. Created by Maple Leafs in First round, 29th overall In the 2018 NHL Draft, he looked great during his brief time in the NHL.
Sandin, who divided the 2019-20 season between the Leafs and the Toronto Marlis of the American Hockey League, scored eight points in 28 games in the NHL and 15 points in 21 games in the HHL. What impressed me the most with Sandin was how calm he was with the puck on his stick. Some nights, you may not notice him on the ice, but he does his job well and rarely turns on the puck.
Sandin makes a great first pass from the defensive zone to his teammates to break through the neutral zone. He is a great skater, and when there are no other options, he can skate the puck out of trouble. In the offensive zone, Sandin is great at finding teammates in the slot. He is great at crossing the blue line and can get a tough, accurate shot on the net in the moment.
With the blue line of the Leafs appearing deeper than it has in years, Sandin will have a hard time getting the Leafs out of training camp this year. As long as I think he’s ready for the NHL, playing big minutes for Marlis for another year will not hurt. He’s going to be an important part of the leafy blue line in the future, and there’s no need to cast him into a big-time role this time around.
A bright future
Although Leafs Prospect Pipeline is not what it used to be, they still have talent in every place. There are some possibilities highlighted above to be untouchable. All of these players are an integral part of Leafs’ future, and it is imperative for Dubas to find cheap talent, given the limitations under this team.
All statistics provided Instat hockey.