Maple Leafs Prospect Update: 2014-15 Season Wrap

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Connor Brown Photo: Graig Abel/Abelimages
Connor Brown Photo: Graig Abel/Abelimages

The CHL’s regular season is over, the Marlies have nine games left with their playoff lives uncertain, and the putrid cesspool of a Leafs season that we’ve been forced to endure is four games from its conclusion.

By June, we’ll have added at least one more blue chipper and if we trade Kessel, maybe more.  For the time being, all we can do is wait and take stock.

Let’s start our tour with a look at Connor Brown.  At less than 6-feet tall and with no real skills that jump off the ice at you, it was unclear whether or not his OHL scoring totals from last season would translate to the men’s game.  After his rookie season in the AHL, there’s little doubt.  Brown leads all AHL rookies in scoring with 55 points in 67 games.  It may not happen next year since the Leafs may look to shelter Brown from the post-apocalyptic tire fire that most are expecting the Leafs to be in 2015-16, but Brown is one prospect who will almost certainly be an NHL regular in some capacity and may even find himself filling a top-6 role.

At 20 years old, Brandon Leipsic is even younger than Brown and currently finds himself sixth in AHL rookie scoring.  Often referred to as one of the most annoying players in hockey, Leipsic is the kind of guy you could ideally see filling an Alex Burrows, or Brad Marchand type role (not inconceivable based on his numbers to date).  Other teams will hate him and we would hate him if he weren’t a Leaf, but he is a Leaf and for that reason, he’ll probably be a fan favourite when he cracks the big club.

The crown jewel of our prospect group, William Nylander, has done everything Leafs fans could realistically have hoped he would.  In January, ESPN’s Corey Pronman ranked Nylander as the top drafted prospect outside of the NHL.  Nylander put up 0.7 points per game as an 18 year old in the AHL and managed 20 points in 21 games in the SHL.  He’s a one man zone entry machine and has shown that his hands and his shot will both play at the pro level and on North American ice.  He could still stand to get stronger on his skates but the progress has been promising and the potential is there for Nylander to be a future All-Star.

Outside of the AHL, Andreas Johnson had another monster season in the SHL.  The 21 year old finished the season 3rd in scoring among players 24-years old and younger, and was 5th in goals scored in the entire league.  He’s another small forward with plenty of skill and, as with Nylander, the question will be how much stronger he can get on the puck and whether his game will translate to North American ice.  I haven’t seen anything that indicates he’ll be coming over but I would hope that for next season, we’ll see Johnson plying his trade with the Marlies.

After a slow start to his season, Carter Verhaeghe salvaged his stats late in the year and matched last year’s totals.  By season’s end, he finished 14th in OHL scoring (up slightly from 21st).  You hope for a smooth upward trend with prospects but things don’t always pan out that way.  Next year is going to be a big one for Verhaeghe and improved skating is undoubtedly his surest path to success.  If he can take some of the slushiness out of his stride, he could be a useful pro.  If I had to guess, I would say that the improvements he makes this summer will dictate the kind of career he has.

With the Leafs now in the business of acquiring picks and prospects instead of trading 2nd rounders for Dave Bolland, next year promises to be a bit more exciting for the prospect lovers among us.  Adding a top-5 pick in this year’s draft to a 21-and-under group that already contains William Nylander and Morgan Rielly is an exciting proposition for a fan base as starved for success as ours has been.  Here’s hoping for an exciting and productive June.

Toronto Maple Leafs Prospect Statistics 2014-15

Last Updated April 2, 2015
Name
DraftRoundHeightWeightAgeTeamLeagueGPGAPts+/-SOG
FORWARDS
JAMIE DEVANE200936' 5"21723MarliesAHL39022-419
BRAD ROSS201026' 0"17522Marlies
Solar Bears
AHL
ECHL
31
7
4
3
4
3
8
6
0
4
45
17
GREG MCKEGG201036' 0"19122MarliesAHL541914338114
SAM CARRICK201056' 0"18822Marlies
Leafs
AHL
NHL
51
16
7
1
18
1
25
2
-4
1
105
16
TYLER BIGGS201116' 2"20521Marlies
Solar Bears
AHL
ECHL
47
8
2
4
3
2
5
6
-6
1
63
21
JOSH LEIVO201136'2"19521MarliesAHL441016269113
TONY CAMERANESI201155' 9"16221U of Min-DuluthNCAA40921305118
DOMINIC TONINATO201256' 1"16520U of Min-DuluthNCAA341610261287
CONNOR BROWN201265' 11"16020MarliesAHL6718375520120
RYAN RUPERT201265' 8"18620Marlies
Solar Bears
AHL
ECHL
49
17
14
5
11
9
25
14
20
7
77
32
FREDERIK GAUTHIER201316' 5"21419RimouskiQMJHL
QMJHL Playoffs
37
4
16
0
16
7
32
7
26
4
92
12
CARTER VERHAEGHE201336' 1"18119NiagaraOHL
OHL Playoffs
67
3
33
1
48
1
81
2
22
-4
FABRICE HERZOG201356' 2"17619ZugSwiss NLA436395
ANDREAS JOHNSON201375' 10"18319FrolundaSHL552213355
WILLIAM NYLANDER201415'1117418Modo
Marlies
SHL
AHL
21
28
8
8
12
11
20
19
3
5
53
J.J. PICCINICH201446'0"19018Boston UNCAA H-East25134-6
DAKOTA JOSHUA201456'2"18218Sioux FallsUSHL491823414
NOLAN VESEY201466'1"19519U of MaineNCAA H East36101323-6
NIKITA SOSHNIKOVSigning5'11"18321Atlant MytishchiKHL571418325139
CASEY BAILEYSigning6'3"19423Penn State Univ.NCAA3722184011211
DEFENCEMEN
NAMEDraftRoundHEIGHTWEIGHTAGETeamLeagueGPGAPts+/-SOG
ANDREW MACWILLIAM200876'2"22625MarliesAHL563472142
ERIC KNODEL200956' 6"21624Marlies
Solar Bears
AHL
ECHL
19
32
0
5
8
10
8
15
0
14
24
74
PETTER GRANBERG201046' 3"20022Marlies
Leafs
AHL
NHL
44
7
1
0
13
0
14
0
11
1
26
1
TOM NILSSON201146'0"18021MarliesAHL42156229
MATTHEW FINN201226' 0"19920MarliesAHL25112-225
VIKTOR LOOV201276'3"20022MarliesAHL65614201382
RINAT VALIEV201436'2"20819KootenayWHL
WHL Playoffs
52
1
9
0
37
0
46
0
22
1
GOALIES
NAMEDraftRoundHEIGHTWEIGHTAGETeamLeagueGPIRecordGAASV%SO
CHRISTOPHER GIBSONFASigning6' 1"18822MarliesAHL4021 - 16 - 02.340.9232
GARRET SPARKS201176' 2"20021Marlies
Solar Bears
AHL
ECHL
2
33
2-0-0
19-7-2
1.00
2.42
.966
.934
1
2
ANTOINE BIBEAU201366' 3"20720MarliesAHL2610 - 10 - 02.810.914