The NHL season is just around the corner with the Maple Leafs set to open up their preseason on September 17th as they will play eight preparation games before their season opener on October 2nd against Ottawa. Obviously the Maple Leafs line-up for the regular season will be predominately NHL players from last year but the 4th line and bottom defence pairing have yet to be decided. I will be taking a look at Maple Leaf prospects that are hoping to make the roster this season or develop further as they look to reach their goal of making the NHL.
Yegor Korshkov: RW (23 years old, 2016 2nd round pick)
The powerful Russian forward has spent the past four seasons in the KHL with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl where he has found some success with 24 goals and 65 points in 172 games. He made the switch during last season to North America for the AHL playoffs to assist the Marlies as he played nine games with 1 goal and 4 penalty minutes. Kyle Dubas and the organization liked what they saw from Korshkov as they gave him a two year entry level contract over the offseason for $925,000 per season. His experience in the KHL and his size does give him some advantage heading into camp especially for a 4th line position.
Pierre Engvall: LW (23 years old, 2014 7th round pick)
It has been a long road for Pierre Engvall as the Swedish forward has been forced to battle his entire career to make it in the professional leagues. He spent three years working hard in the Swedish Junior Hockey league (SuperElit) before joining Sweden's second league (Allsvenskan) in 2015. He was very successful in two seasons with Mora IK with 33 goals and 64 points in 100 games with the club while having 6 goals and 11 points in 14 playoff games. His gradual improvement each season has been truly remarkable and the Maple Leafs had him split time with the Marlies and HV71 in the SHL during the 2017-18 season. During the Marlies playoff run that year he had 3 goals and 8 points in 20 games. Last season was his first full year with the Marlies as Engvall was playing in the first year of his two year entry level contract where he recorded 19 goals and 32 points in 70 games with 7 points in 13 playoff games. I have really admired what Engvall has been able to accomplish as he has consistently proved people wrong and the 7th round pick from 2014 has an opportunity to make the roster this season.
Jeremy Bracco: RW (22 years old, 2015 2nd round pick)
Following his draft selection in 2015 he played two explosive years in the OHL where he had 46 goals and 147 points in 106 games. Bracco also played with the United States world junior team where he scored 3 goals and 5 points in 7 games and following the great year the Maple Leafs signed him to a three year entry level contract. Last season with the Marlies he scored 22 goals with 79 points in 75 games with 4 goals and 16 points in 13 playoff games as the top line forward really made the case for a call-up for this season. The Maple Leafs won't gain much from leaving him in the AHL and I think Jeremy Bracco should get a look with the Maple Leafs this season.
Semyon Der-Arguchintsev: C (19 years old, 2018 3rd round pick)
The Russian born prospect was drafted by the Maple Leafs in 2018 following a good season with the Peterborough Petes in the OHL where he scored 12 goals and 51 points in 68 games. The young forward had a bit of a down year last season with the Petes where he had 6 goals and 46 points in 62 games but he did show a lot of promise during last seasons rookie showcase and I'm looking forward to seeing him during the preseason. SDA will likely play this upcoming season in the minors but it's still uncertain as to whether he plays in the OHL, ECHL or the AHL.
Ilya Mikheyev: LW (24 years old, Undrafted)
I was torn about Ilya Mikheyev as the 24 year old as many people wouldn't classify him as a prospect given his age and the fact that he was undrafted but Mikheyev signed an entry level deal and is heading to North America for the first time in his career. He has spent the past four seasons playing in the KHL and he had 23 goals and 45 points in 62 games with Avangard Osmk last season with 4 goals and 11 points in 13 playoff games. His success in the KHL and his one year contract makes fans believe Mikheyev will make the roster and find success with the absence of Zach Hyman (injury) and the Mitch Marner situation still up in the air. I'm excited to see what Mikheyev brings this pre-season if analysts are already giving him 2nd and 3rd line minutes on the Maple Leafs.
Adam Brooks: C (23 years old, 2016 4th round pick)
The small Center had two 120+ point seasons in the WHL with the Regina Pats and two seasons ago I was convinced he was one of the most underrated prospects on the Leafs. Now with two seasons under his belt in the AHL, I think it's safe to say I overestimated Brooks but I still believe he is going to continue improving and make an NHL roster in the future. He improved his numbers last year with the Marlies with 21 goals and 40 points in 61 games with 6 goals and 8 points in 13 playoff games. Training camp is another big opportunity to show he belongs in the conversation for 4th line center but if Brooks doesn't make the roster, I think he has an even better year with the Marlies.
Rasmus Sandin: LD (19 years old, 2018 1st round pick)
Many fans including myself believe that Rasmus Sandin is the best Maple Leafs prospect on Defence and if he was right-handed he would be definitely make the team this upcoming season. Mike Babcock loves matching Right and Left handed defenders and unfortunately for left-handers, the Maple Leafs have Morgan Rielly, Jake Muzzin and Travis Dermott already set. I think Sandin will see a lot of minutes in the pre-season playing on the right side with one of these three players and if he develops chemistry he could make the team. Last season was his first year with the Marlies where he had 6 goals and 28 points in 44 games and Sandin played major minutes in the playoffs for the team.
Timothy Liljegren: RD (20 years old, 2017 1st round pick)
When he was drafted in 2017 following an injury plagued season many people thought the Leafs had got a steal at 17th overall as he was initially projected top 10 before his injury. Two seasons now with the Marlies have been underwhelming but he enters camp with a massive opportunity to play the right-side that seems wide-open for the Leafs. His competition will likely be Jordan Schmaltz, Justin Holl, Joseph Duszak and any left-handed defenseman that Babcock likes playing on the right side for that final 3rd pairing.
Joseph Duszak: RD (22 years old, Undrafted)
The promising American defenseman signed a two year deal this offseason following three very strong years at Mercyhurst University in the NCAA. During last season he had 16 goals and 47 points in 37 games with 42 penalty minutes and Duszak actually played 4 playoff games with the Marlies scoring 1 goal. Joseph is a great puck moving defenseman that should match up well with the Maple Leafs style and I'm looking forward to watching him match up with other players in the pre-season.
Mac Hollowell: LD (20 years old, 2018 4th round pick)
The 20 year old defenseman from Canada is small for the position at 5'9" but he put up 24 goals and 77 points in 64 games for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds last season in the OHL. He is entering training camp hoping to make a statement as he enters his first season of professional hockey and he did join the Marlies last season playing nine games in the playoffs with 1 assist in limited minutes. I'm excited to watch Hollowell this pre-season to see how he matches up with NHL players.
Teemu Kivihalme: LD (24 years old, 2013 5th round pick)
This is sort of an interesting prospect as Teemu was selected in the 5th round by the Nashville Predators back in 2013 but after finishing College in 2017 with Colorado, he traveled to play professionally in Finland. His numbers during his time in the NCAA weren't great with 10 goals and 36 points in 107 games with a plus minus rating of -60. Teemu shouldn't be a fault however as Colorado College were awful during his three seasons with a record of 20-79-8 while finishing last in their conference every season. He finally played with a winning team for the past two seasons with Karpat as the Finish team is one of the strongest in the league winning the title in 2014, 2015 and 2018. Last season Kivihalme had 9 goals and 30 points in 60 games with 4 goals and 9 points in 16 playoff games as the top scoring defenseman on the team. I still have a lot of questions regarding Kivihalmes game but he has a very high chance of making the Leafs roster at 24 years old coming off a great season in Europe.
Jesper Lindgren: RD (22 years old, 2015 4th round pick)
There is still a lot of mystery surrounding Jesper Lindgren as the 22 year old has only appeared in 8 Marlies games over the past two seasons while he has spent the majority of his time overseas playing for HPK in the Finish League. He is a small mobile right-handed defenseman that had 2 goals and 19 points in 45 games last season in Europe. He should stay in North America with the Marlies this season so Kyle Dubas and the rest of the staff can get a better understanding of what to do with Lindgren moving forward.
Joseph Woll: (21 years old, 2016 3rd round pick)
Maple Leaf fans are super excited about Joseph Woll moving forward as the American goalkeeper has put up great numbers in three straight seasons in the NCAA with Boston College. His save percentage for each season was above .910 and in his past two seasons his goals against average has been below a 2.50 and the Leafs will see him make the transition to the AHL this season. Obviously the Maple Leafs are still figuring out the back-up goalie situation with Michael Hutchinson and Michal Neuvirth expected to battle during pre-season but Joseph Woll could see some NHL minutes at some point in the near future given the lack of depth at that position.
Ian Scott: (20 years old, 2017 4th round pick)
After a couple sub-par seasons in the WHL with the Prince Albert Raiders, Ian Scott was unbelievable last season with a .932 save percentage and a 1.83 GAA in 49 games while maintaining similar numbers in 23 playoff games. The Leafs are expecting Ian Scott to play a fair amount of games with the Toronto Marlies this season and hopefully he can continue his success into 2020.