The Toronto Maple Leafs are well represented at the 2021 World Juniors.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have five skaters and one goaltender on rosters for the tournament. Each prospect came into the tournament in a unique role for their country.
Unfortunately the Leafs didn’t have a member of team Canada, but that doesn’t mean that the tournament hasn’t been fun to follow, blowout games aside. It is also worth noting that top Leafs prospect Nick Robertson did not attend, and will instead be at the Leafs training camp that opens next week.
Here is a quick update on each prospect through the first six days of the tournament.
Toronto Maple Leafs and the World Juniors
Roni Hirvonen – Finland
2 GP 0 G 2 A (All stats tsn.ca)
Hirvonen has been playing on Finland’s top line and first line powerplay throughout their first two games. He has notched two assists and has been a good compliment on the wing with Anton Lundell and Kasper Simontaival. Hirvonen has shown good playmaking ability and always seems to be in a spot to make things happen. Additionally, he has the third most penalty minutes in the tournament with 16 in two games.
Topi Niemela – Finland
2 GP 1 G 3 A
Niemela has been a solid defenseman for Finland early in the tournament, notching two multi point games. Niemela has been impactful at both ends of the ice, constantly breaking up plays defensively and controlling zone entries.
He has also been running the point on Finland’s second powerplay unit, picking up a couple of secondary assists. It is encouraging to see Niemela add some points playing with his own age group, the Toronto Maple Leafs will hope it can transfer over to his LIIGA play.
Mikko Kokkonen – Finland
2 GP 0 G 1 A
Kokkonen is an assistant captain and reliable figure for Finland. He and Niemela have both been steadily relied on, playing nearly 32 minutes each through Finland’s two games.
Kokkonen plays mostly defensive minutes and has been effective at neutralizing chances against. He also added an assist on a shot against Germany. Kokkonen will continue to be relied on against tougher competition as Finland advances.
Rodion Amirov – Russia
3 GP 1 G 2 A
Amirov has been great all around for Russia, playing on their first line and being their top penalty killing forward. Amirov has showcased his defensive ability, consistently creating takeaways and disrupting plays in transition. He showed off his offensive ability against Austria when he calmly scored the opening goal on a penalty shot.
Amirov and his linemates have shown an ability to dictate play in the offensive zone and control the puck along the boards to create chances. Amirov will need to continue his solid all-around play as Russia enters the medal rounds.
Mikhail Abramov – Russia
1 GP 0 G 1 A
Abramov played in Russia’s pre-tournament game but was scratched for their first two round robin games. He drew in on the second line against Austria and was one of the better Russian forwards, registering an assist, four shots, and drew a penalty.
Russia has had trouble finding offense at times during the tournament and Abramov’s playmaking ability could help them the rest of the way, it will be interesting to see if he sticks in the lineup.
Artur Akhtyamov – Russia
1 GP SV% .945
Russia having the top goalie prospect in hockey as their starter means Akhtyamov is stuck with backup duty. He played goal in Russia’s game against Austria, making 17 saves on 18 shots. Akhtyamov made a couple of solid saves in the first period and looked sharp throughout, but ultimately did not face much sustained pressure from his opponents.
All told, the Toronto Maple Leafs have been well represented at this tournament.