Maple Leafs Prospect Report: “Loov-ing” The Defense


Every Tuesday throughout the NHL season we will be updating you on the development, potential and realistic expectations for key Toronto Maple Leafs prospects with up-to-date stats, analysis and scouting reports.

With only days left until the trade deadline and what every Leaf fan hopes will be a large exodus of players and a large influx of talented prospect and high draft picks, we return with the weekly Prospect Report.

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In this week’s feature we are going to look at the strength of the Maple Leafs prospect system:Defense.

The Leafs have a half-dozen bets to be top 6 NHL caliber blue liners in the system already, led by 1st round pick Stuart Percy, 2nd round pick Matt Finn and depth picks Rinat Valiev, Petter Granberg and Tom Nilsson to name a few.

Just to make sure we still have things to talk about after the trade deadline is over, I’m only going to focus on one name for today’s feature.

The name of today’s featured prospect, who also just happens to be my favorite future Leaf:

Viktor Loov – D – Lefty – 6’3″ 190lbs – AHL – Toronto Marlies

 51 Games Played – 4 Goals – 16 Points – 20 Penalty Minutes – Plus/Minus +5

Viktor Loov is a dream to watch on the ice. He hits everything that moves, even when it’s not good for him. I don’t just mean bumping into guys, I mean obliterating them with open ice hip checks which you can see a small sampling of in this video:

Loov is a smart positional player, who rarely gets caught out of position. He will hit you, he will hurt you, he will go through you. In many ways he is very similar to current fan favorite Leo Komarov.

Loov will probably never win a Norris trophy, but you can almost guarantee he’ll be a reliable No.3/4 guy who will give his all every shift, while constantly looking for that momentum changing massive hit.

Now, even though he is a flying battering ram, he can’t fight worth a damn, and generally chooses to avoid those situations. This only serves to further enrage the opponents he has just flattened.

Viktor Loov isn’t just all shoulder and hip checks, he’s also an underrated puck mover and handler and now leads all Marlies D-men in points. He has a sneaky wrist shot with which he uses his great skating ability to change the angle on a second before letting it fly.

Tape-to-tape passes and strong zone exits are common place when he is on the ice. Although he is considered a plus skater, it is due to his mobility and agility, not his speed. An area he has worked to improve with Leafs skating coach Barb Underhill.

Loov is not just a good player on the ice, he is also lauded in the dressing room for his composure and a very subtle sarcastic sense of humour. He is a team first player and will block shots and take hits to make a play.

"“I am a team-first guy,” said Loov. “If the coach wants me to skate with the puck, I will skate with the puck. If he wants me to hit, I will hit. Whatever the coach wants.”"

One of the greatest things about Loov is where the Leafs picked him. Going 209th overall in the 7th round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, he is looking like yet another late round gem by key European Scout Thommie Bergman. Viktor Loov often compares himself to fellow Swede Alexander Edler, and it is an apt comparison.

The word “safe” is thrown around a lot when speaking about Viktor Loov, which is a credit to his skating and positioning skills considering how often he goes after monster hits. It was expected that Viktor would need several seasons to acclimate to the North American game, but he has fully embraced his time with the Marlies, often being their best blue liner.

What looked like a long-term project prospect has quickly turned into a bluechip one. While he definitely needs another full season or two with the Marlies to really bring his game to the next level. Viktor Loov is much closer to being an impact player with the Maple Leafs than anyone could have expected.

Upside: Hard-hitting, solid positional, puck moving Number 2 Defenseman

Realistic Projection: Safe, Hard-Hitting, Shutdown Number 3/4 Defenseman

NHL Ready: 2016-2017

NHL Player Comparable: Alexander Edler

Next week we’ll continue breaking down the Leaf’s prospect pipeline, and hopefully some new additions to the pool from trades.

As always, feel free to comment below or reach out to me on twitter @TorrinBatchelor as you can never have too many conversations about hockey in a day.