Toronto Maple Leafs may have a new top prospect

The Toronto Maple Leafs, like any other NHL team, rely on their Scouting division when it comes time to trot. Scouts spend many hours traveling from city to city evaluating numerous prospects.

While the Mark Hunter era didn’t produce any significant late round players, the Toronto Maple Leafs system seems to be moving in the right direction.

Many scouts will tell you that it’s easy to put together a Top 50 list of North American prospects and a Top 50 list of European prospects. The hardest part comes when you list the prospects outside of each of those Top 50 lists.

In the NHL draw, most teams have a rough idea of ​​where prospects will be ranked in the first two rounds. After the second round of the NHL draw, it can be a gamble when selecting prospects.

Every NHL general manager hopes to find a few hidden gems in the mid to late rounds of draft. Toronto CEO Kyle Dubas has some of those gems. Here’s a look at some of those gems from abroad.

Toronto Maple Leafs Prospect gems from abroad

Vyacheslav Peksa

Vyacheslav Peksa is a 19-year-old Russian goalkeeper drafted by Toronto in round six of the 2021 NHL drawing with the #185th overall pick. The young Russian is playing his second full season with Irbis Kazan in the MHL.

During his draft-eligible season, Peksa set some decent numbers. He set a record of 8-5-2 with a 2.57 GAA and a .909 SV% with one shutout. The only problem is that the sample size is small to measure how good it is.

Jump forward to this season and you’ll see his numbers have improved. His record at the moment is 10-8-5, which isn’t great, but that has more to do with the team in front of him. Peksa’s stats are vastly improved with a 1.78 GAA and 0.940 SV% with four shutouts.

Peksa is not currently signed by Toronto, which is not unusual, and will likely play in Russia for a few more seasons. Hopefully he can continue to play well and eventually make his way to North America.

(Statistics from: Eliteprospects.com)

Niemela mice

Niemela mice is a recent Toronto Maple Leafs prospect that I’ll be keeping an eye on all season. The young Finnish defender is having a great season with Karpat in Liiga.

He now has five goals and 15 assists for 20 points in 23 games. Niemela has those 20 points first on Karpat in points. He is also third in points of the entire Liiga and just two points behind the leader.

This 2020 third-round pick from the Toronto Maple Leafs is pushing itself higher up the list of Toronto prospects. Hopefully he will also play in North America soon. With Sandin being a fixture in the NHL and Nick Robertson struggling to stay healthy for extended periods of time, Niemela may be making a case for becoming the team’s top candidate.

Pontus Holmberg

Pontus Holmberg currently plays with the Vaxjo Lakers HC in the SHL. Holmberg is signed by Toronto, so he plays in the SHL on loan.

So far this season, the 22-year-old has scored six goals and nine assists for 15 points in 20 games. Holmberg could prove to be another late-round design gem for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was selected in the sixth round of the 2018 NHL drawing with the #156th overall pick.

Holmberg is likely to play in the AHL next season, which will also be the last year of his entry-level contract.

These three Toronto Maple Leafs prospects are a clear example of how important it is to draft well after the first two rounds of the NHL draft. With any draft pick, you have to hope they either become a good player for you or play well enough to later be used as an asset to trade. These three are doing just that, and hopefully we’ll see them in the NHL for years to come.

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