NHL 2023 Rookie Pool Rankings: No. 18 Toronto Maple Leafs (2023)

Welcome to Scott Wheeler's 2023 Rankingnational hockey leagueorganization perspectiveYou can find the complete ranking and more information about the criteria.here, we count backwards from 32 to 1 every day. The series ran from January 9 to February 8 and included in-depth reviews and reviews from nearly 500 potential customers.


The Leaf system is more about quantity than quality. They still have four legitimate rookies, which is in line with other teams ranked below them (and some ranked ahead of them), but it's the depth of C+ and B- rookies that separates their group. From a weaker team in the league.

It's a testament to their work finding value through late picks and deepening in free agency, but it also shows in the fact that they haven't taken a first-round pick in the past two drafts. Last February it was discovered that Rodion Amirov, last chosen in the first round, had a brain tumor and there were uncertainties about his health.

The Leafs have the weaker defense but have good depth on the wings and in net, with five goalies in the top 15 this year.

2022 Leading Group Rankings:15º(change: -3)

1. Matthew Knies, LW, 20 (Minnesota)

One of the fastest rising prospects among prospects last season, Knys emerged as one of the best freshmen in college hockey last year and picked up where he left off in his sophomore season before turning pro. While it must be said that he benefited from great teammates during his two seasons with the Golden Gophers, he also showed that he belonged with them, a testament to his own individual skills (he has a tough outer wrist).national hockey league) and the way his power play complements his talented teammates (I know, Maple Leafs fans are hoping this is an omen, since he's left-handed).

Knys has a rare combination of strength and skill in his game, he can drop his shoulders, attack you with his 6-foot frame and dominate goalies with his shooting, but he can also run his errands in small play areas. He has a bit of a feeling in his gait, which makes him bend his toes forward, and I'd love to see that corrected at least a bit, but he has all the hallmarks of a modern striker and can play honestly. wall and in the middle The performance on the field was equally good and talented.


He is comfortable with the controls, has a good touch, always tries to stay in the game of the puck, has a strong two-way base, is hard to drop the puck, and knows how to push through a crowd. There's some understated creativity to his game, too (he'll execute odd passes off the low beam or try between his legs). It's hard to get past him when he attacks you from the front, so defenders tend to brace for impact. He's good at lifting weights and keeping his feet moving when there's no chance of winning a body fight. He can even grab the puck tightly when others try to get close to him or slam him into a wall on a bike.

I expect him to be a good second-rate winger with some presence in the game (if not a third-rate player on his court).

2.Nick Robertson, LW, 21 (Toronto Maris/toronto maple leaves

In many ways, injuries have been the story of his youth (and part of the reason the Maple Leafs drafted him). They became the story of his early AHL career and now his attempt to establish himself as one of the top nine power forwards in the NHL. He has had wrist, rib, knee, fibula and now shoulder problems.

Fortunately, when Robertson stayed healthy, his career moved steadily into the NHL. You hope his skills, his stats and his Sept. 11 birthday (making him the youngest player in the 2019 draft) continue to help limit the injury downside.

When he's on the field, he's a compelling, energized rotational player, and when he's loaded, he shoots off his wrist as hard as anyone in the NHL (takes longer than most top shooters), the box maneuver in busy situations. out of control and away from the bat, like an avid carry who loves to catch the puck and predicts value to keep the game alive due to his relentlessness.


Robertson's composition is unique. His arc and drag release comes from his heavy blade and he can beat mid-range goalies. He has great hand and foot work to help set the paint and play under the stick or with his feet. And he, too, has picked up some necessary skills to complement that package and make the most of his 5-foot-7 frame:

Courageous in chasing the puck (which can lead to heavy contact or injury), without hesitation, always moving your feet to stay involved (actually, he chases the puck a bit now and then)alsomore) and turn on the drive. I also like (when healthy) his broad vision, getting his teammates involved, and making better use of his good AHL game sense so he's not as net-focused and myopic as a shooter.

I still count on a top-nine contribution and a top-six points cap, both complemented by his work ethic and including a PP2 lead. But it is becoming more and more difficult to determine this because time is wasted and time is needed to rediscover oneself later.

3. Frazier Minten, C, 18 (Kamloops Trail Blazers)

Minten has impressed NHL and WHL scouts over the past two seasons in competitive Kamloops, playing an important role on a loaded team. He's an exciting player from the third ward who can make smart, thoughtful selections with the puck and can show skill in the game when the opportunity presents itself.

He has excellent spatial awareness and knows how to use defenses and opponents' defenses to his advantage, on and off the puck. He's in charge of the puck, has an eye for detail, and has a sixth sense for how the game is going and how to fix things. He's also on the younger side of the 2022 draft, so he won't turn 19 until July. I hope he will participate in this year's Memorial Cup (hosted by Kamloops). He is also expected to be a key quarterback for the Canada 2024 World Youth Team in Gothenburg next year. His numbers aren't popular, but he's playing every game at a very high level, creating a lot of chances for himself this season, he's shooting 56 percent from inside the circle this year, he knows where he's at and when he's at it. the ice. do when the time comes.

Trail Blazers assistant general manager Robbie Sandland said of Minten in a recent conversation: "His game isn't even about scoring. It's like his 200-foot shots are really good. It's like a relentless run." The same morals. He is very reliable and has a very high hockey IQ. He just has what it takes and has played a complete pro style game. I think his game will take that to another level, I really do.

4. Topi Niemelä, 右吉film, 20 years (Kärpät)

At first glance, Nimera's numbers have regressed under Kalpat this season after a stellar performance that made him the second most effective defender in the league a year ago. However, she is hitting career highs so far (3.5 per game this year, 2.9 per game last season), is still averaging 19-20 minutes per game (same as last year) and is still a important part of the team. At 20 years old, an above average team in an above average professional league.


Nimera is a calm and calculating gamer who makes games look easy. She can play a strong fullback with ease, consistently creates offense in 5v5 games, is a competent defender and generates results with her solid execution. Nimera's ability to calmly catch the ball, get through the first layer, and then quickly identify a fairway or move her feet to create one is what sets him apart. Your gameplay is nuanced and fluid, and you make smart decisions in the three areas that determine the outcome.

He's not overly aggressive, so you'll rarely see him trying to beat multiple players to force them to play solo (as you'd expect from someone as productive as him), but he uses whatever space he's given as a tool. gain. Give yourself or your teammates a better chance. While he doesn't have great pace or tackle cricket, his impressive footwork helps him open up and guide opponent passes, close space, recover from mistakes or adjust the blue line of the strike zone with the puck.

He knows exactly when to move, attack, take up space. He's very smart with the tees, just making subtle little moves with the puck on the stick to escape pressure, escape danger, and slide the puck out of the zone. He plays 4-5 on the roof and 6-7 on the ground. I just don't think he's coming to the NHL and not being part of the draft conversation.

5. Nick Maldenhauer, C/RW, 18 (Chicago Steelers)

After the worst possible start to the hiring year, Maldenhauerovercame serious illnesses and injuriesHe reaffirmed his high potential by being one of the best second-half forwards in the USHL. This season, to play a year off before college, he remains one of the best forwards in the USHL and is committed to playing at Michigan next fall.

He's a spirited guy with an engine that's always running at full throttle, but an offensive toolbox that lacks dynamism and an overall B grade. She is a versatile Swiss Army knife, able to see the ice at a high level, read and predict the game quickly, and improve her teammates through her ability to be in the right place at the right time and through he. Solid vision to help and play instincts. Honestly, she looks a lot like Minten. He is just a good, efficient and intelligent hockey player. I don't think he's going to ruin college hockey when he's a freshman. He doesn't have that ability. But I fully believe that as he continues to get stronger, he will be one of the best players on the Wolverines when he becomes a junior and gets an NHL contract out of college.

It also looks like a step up this year from last year. Notice how fast number 9 accelerates through its intersection.

6. Ronnie Hirvonen, C/LW, 21 (HIFK)

Hirvonen is entering his fourth productive professional season, he just turned 21 a few weeks ago, and the game he plays can be a lot of different things. He can play a physical and unstable style in the middle of the fairway, trapping his teammates, going deep on the ice and opportunistically taking opportunities at the net. But he's also skilled enough to catch the puck, play around the perimeter, create for teammates, avoid the rush, direct traffic and make smart plays with assists.


You can release the ball quickly to correct and avoid tight spaces or block traffic. He's relentlessly fighting for possession and extending streaks longer than you'd expect from a 5-foot-7 player (he's cunningly strong). He has good defensive instincts, can be relied on to support the game, and can play a variety of attacking positions. He needs to step up to be the same player on the next level and contribute in a late position (he gets stuck on open ice too much, etc.), especially in his Under figure.

The good news is that he plays fast but not fast (which is definitely the kind of game the Leafs are playing right now). The best news is that the coaches love his way of chasing the ball, his motor and hisbloomDirty areas at the top of the crease/along the board. He is always close to the ball and knows how to use his body to protect the net/puck. Your game should also work great on the North American ice.

7. Dennis Hildeby, defender, 21 years old (Fayerstad BK)

Hildby, who was drafted by the Maple Leafs and quickly signed, is already one of the tallest (6-foot-1) and heaviest (234 pounds) goaltenders in the game. He, too, is starting to put together a very good record, posting a .928 save percentage in his first 20 SHL games over the past two years. After a slow start to the season, Hilderby overtook veteran starter Matt Tomkins in his transition from the bench to the newer outfit.

It can seem a bit slow when the game is bad and you have to fight and move around a lot, but it makes up for it with strong tracking, positioning, angles, reading, and rebound control. There's a lot of work to be done there, and while it's still early in terms of sample size, it has the highest ceiling for Maple Leafs goaltender prospects.

8.Joseph's wall, G, 24 (Toronto Maris)

The story of the Marlies season so far is that Wall has posted a perfect 10-0-0 record since returning from the latest in a long list of injuries (this time a shoulder injury) in late November. After two up-and-down seasons with the Maris, he stepped up last year before suffering an injury in March, and this season marks his reinstatement as Boston College Rookie of the Year three years ago. Previously, he played two seasons on NTDP in the United States. if anyMatt MurrayoIlia SamsonovInjured in the second half, he must now get past Eric Calgren again as the Leafs trio.

Wall is a very good boy, loved by all. He takes a smart approach to position and has a solid base of size (he's 6'1) and the athleticism to stay in line with the puck, make consistent early stops and maintain control in low games, and was asked make two or two saves. Three stops in quick succession.

His pipeline ingenuity is his greatest asset. When he gets stuck, it's more a matter of game speed and movement than technique. Now trust the reading from him, take the lines from him and let the disk come back to him. With that, there's renewed hope that he can have the depth of play that he's had for so long.

9. Ryan Tverberg, RW, 20 (UConn)

Twirberg really first caught my eye in the CJHL Rookie of the Year draft, and he played so well at the end of that season that he was narrowly selected in the seventh round by the Maple Leafs, and he continues to walk that path. . He has been the Huskies' top forward for several seasons after moving to UConn from Harvard during the pandemic.

To do this, he takes constant turns based on his work ethic, his smooth and fast skating pace, and his good overall skill. He can get defenders to bite with his fake shoulders at high speed, cutting them inside-out or outside-in, moving his hands in unison to help him position himself and adjust coverage.

He has also grown rapidly since he was a child (he is now 180 cm tall and weighs 190 kg). He's not a dynamic offensive zone player, but he plays mid-ice, works hard, adjusts his speed and rhythm effectively and can finish at the plate. Whether he succeeds or not, he seems like a very valuable choice among the 213 and the type of player who wins an NHL contract and more opportunities, opportunities that he always seems to make the most of.

10. Ty Voit, RW, 19 (Sania Sting)

After losing the entire draft due to OHL cancellations, the Leafs made a calculated bet on Voight, a smart little playmaker who was born late in Sarnia and showed real potential as a rookie. The early results paid off, with Voight going from last year's Sting scoring leader (by 21!) to this year's OHL leader in both scoring and assists.

When Sting scores, it's usually Voit who organizes. He is a crafty passer who expects a save one second and then executes a series of quick attacks to score a goal the next. Even before you have the ball, your mind is always spinning, analyzing your options. His cerebral nature allows him to move smoothly in the game on ice and dissect teams with perfect passing weight and a silky first touch.

At 5'10" and 150 pounds, there were concerns about whether his game would be as easy as it seemed as a teenager. He also did a lot on defense at the OHL level. I expect him to play a lot of games and be strong on the AHL power play. Without However, I am concerned that he will become an AAAA guy like Nic Petan. His vision and composure were unmistakable in the early stages. He has had a great time and the Sting team around him this year is ready to challenge for the OHL title .

11. Nikita Grebyonkin, RW/LW, 19 (Amur-Jabarovsk)

Perhaps the best story about the Maple Leafs rookie team this season, Gray Bionkin was one of the leading scorers in the MHL last season before being selected in the fifth round of 2022 as a surplus player. At the beginning of the year he played for the KHL team in Magnitogorsk and then moved to Khabarovsk. In search of bigger opportunities, he rose quickly through Russian second division VVS and, at the end of October, in Khabarovsk. The Rovsk team debuted and is in the top six and has been in a strong position ever since. As of this writing, his 17 points lead all KHL under-20 players so far this season.

Greybyongin is a skinny, 6-foot-tall left-hander who appears uncomfortable with an upright stance that easily throws him off balance, has mobility with his hands and, as a passer, has a great sense of the ball. If he can develop, make his skating more fluid (he's not slow at all, just looks a little weird) and develop his shot more like a gun (he's shooting really fast), then maybe he's a really fun player there. For a 6-foot-1 player, he has excellent ice vision and good ball handling skills.

As soon as he (the blue number 17) starts attacking a bit more like this, he'll unlock some levels. With proper development and patience, he has a complementary path to becoming an NHL winger.

12.Guillermo Villeneuve, right-hand drive, 20 (Toronto Maris)

Villeneuve is one of those players who does his best when the game comes around, but he can also deviate from his best and become a player that stands out.a lot ofFor good and bad reasons, because he tried to get too involved. Sometimes when he wants to participate in all the sprints and run all the routes, you realize that he doesn't necessarily have the ability to skate (although this ability is heavily criticized and has become quite mushy, although his feet can still drag) straight. . body) be that person. Sometimes he wants to close all the gaps, and his cross may look smooth across neutral ice, stopping one run, but his timing is off on the next because he misreads the carrier. It can be a bit of a roller coaster. Over the last year and a half, with St. John's (including the Memorial Cup) and now with Maris, he's starting to find the right balance. I think that sometimes, like in skating, his notes in the defensive zone are very strong in a loose team, but they also often go unnoticed. His record production was also underrated, as it was in stark contrast to the sophisticated skills of his teammate and sometimes teammate Jeremy Poirier in St. Louis.

Villeneuve is a confident and capable playmaker who can lead the ins and outs, control possession and do things on his own. He also has some vision and creativity in his own right. His processing time sometimes takes a fraction of a second too long to read and react to the piece in front of him, but I think he's gotten better in that area and has plenty of other corrective tools (both soft and hard, including the 6ft ). 2 frames). When he plays fast and trusts his instincts instead of second-guessing, he's an effective defender with some new-age traits. I totally understand why the Maple Leafs' development team would invest in this quick early trade for a fourth-round pick, and I'd be interested to see how he fares at 22.

13. Keith Petruzzelli, G, 23 (Toronto Maris)

Petruselli got off to a solid start to his ECHL career last year, but his transition to the AHL this season has been a disaster. He's been stealing a few games lately and playing great early on, but he's also been laying eggs in the middle. Petruselli, a tall but skinny 6-foot-1 goalie, has struggled to gain weight over the years and had to adjust it to his usual frame. Admittedly, he's also improved a lot athletically over the years (he's nowhere near where he was when he started at Quinnipiac). Despite his size, Petruselli doesn't rely solely on a challenging blocking style like most goalies his size. His biggest strength is the way he reads and anticipates the game to know where to shoot and catch passes early. He does a good job of watching the net traffic, throwing the puck, and holding his own (for his size) on the net (he's not an overly aggressive goalie). He's never been the fastest or smoothest goalie at the net and he's been skating, but he has the ability to sub or third if he can.

14.Artur Ahtiamov, G, 21

I liked Ahtiamov in the draft years and wasn't surprised that the Maple Leafs used the current year's draft to pick a goaltender, even though NHL Central scouts didn't rate him. His record in the MHL and now in the VHL is on a par with the Russian goalkeepers. He stands at 6'2" and has a slim build, which has some limitations, but he's quick at net, reasonable and aggressive in his position, and despite his diminutive size, is rarely beaten by gloves or tall blockers. I'm not willing to bet he'll be an NHL player, but I'm sure he's a good young goalie and he hasn't given me any sign that he won't go to the next level in the KHL/AHL. In general, the save percentage tends to be skewed toward the higher level in Russia, but it seems to be part of his stats and he's been pretty good behind some bad teams over the years.

15. Vyacheslav Peksa, defense, 20 years (Ak Bars Kazan)

Before last season, I didn't give Pexa much time because every time I had trouble watching the Kazan MHL team, it was because of names that were higher up this list than him. Coincidentally, Ahjamov has left Kazan and the group seems more determined to let Peksa go with him. But Peksa, who is similar in stature to Ahjamov but has a different style, has left a deep impression on me over the past two years. He is an athletic, competitive, fast, ball-moving goalkeeper who will try to stay in the game and not overwork when not necessary. If I had to guess, I think the Leafs would end up signing Ahtiamov or Vyacheslav Peksa or neither (you can't sign them all!), but if they can make room, I'd seriously consider both with the Marlies/Growlers in due course. /if they are willing to come and try. But there is no rush. They can wait until they are 23-24 to see if they have the ability to establish themselves in the KHL like other teams often do.


Each of my leadership rankings will be broken down into specific team tiers to give you a better idea of ​​how close one player is to another's talent (the difference is sometimes small and sometimes quite obvious).

The Maple Leafs prospect pool is divided into three levels: 1-4, 5-10, 11-15.

terochoThe lead (by far the oldest and one of the highest totals in the entire series) makes it off the list for last-tier consideration, highlighting the medium foreground depth I mentioned above.

These are forwards Semyon Der-Alguchintsev, Viti Miettinen, Brandon Lisovsky, Dmitry Ovchinnikov, Brayden Chrysler and Joe Miller, along with point guards Miko Kokkonen and Mike Coster. Miettinen is a player that I have always liked, but he has not taken the necessary steps to continue in the squad.

Forwards Mikhail Abramov and Pavel Gogolev were excluded from consideration.







cool matthew

broad wave


University of Minnesota


Nick Robertson

broad wave









Topi I agree

right servant




Nick Maldenhauer

Read and write




Ronnie Hirvonen

medium/long wave




dennis hildby





Joseph's wall





Ryan Twellberg



University of Connecticut


Ty Voight





Nikita Grebin too

read/write/long write




Guillermo Villeneuve

right servant




Keith Petruselli





Artur Ahtiamov





Viacheslav Peksa




(Photo by Matthew Nice: Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)


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