Toronto Maple Leafs Top 10 Prospects at the Start of the 2021-22 Season

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 13: Nick Robertson #89 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on April 13, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Flames defeated the Maple Leafs 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - APRIL 13: Nick Robertson #89 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on April 13, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Flames defeated the Maple Leafs 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /
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VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA – JUNE 22: Mikko Kokkonen reacts after being selected 84th overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs  . (Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA – JUNE 22: Mikko Kokkonen reacts after being selected 84th overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs  . (Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images) /

10. Mikko Kokkonen

Age: 20

Height/Weight: 5’11” 198 lbs.

Position: Defense

Shoots: Left

Draft: 3rd Round, 84th Overall 2019

If the Toronto Maple Leafs have one player you can almost guarantee will eventually make the NHL, it’s Mikko Kokkonen.

I had him tenth last season, and this season he comes in again at #10.  The reason? High floor, low ceiling.  Kokkonen is, by all accounts, an extremely smart defenseman with NHL talent.

He was a 3rd round pick from 2019, and no matter which scouting report of his you read, he gets called a smart, safe player who uses his intelligence to make up for a lack of high-end talent.

Is Kokkonen ever going to turn into a star player? It’s not too likely.  But he’s a good bet to eventually be a solid third pairing player like Travis Dermott is right now.

Last season Kokkonen got his first taste of the AHL and scored 7 points in 11 games, which, for a rookie defenseman making his North American and Pro debut, is quite impressive. That is really encouraging, but the small sample size makes me tentative when it comes to the hype, because he didn’t score at anywhere close to that rate at all in his four seasons playing for SM-liiga.

Kokkonen is a good prospect, and how he should be ranked depends on your perspective. As a safe bet to one day hold down an NHL job, he should be ranked higher.  There are players on this list who are more likely to fail, and whom we may forget long after we get used to Kokkonen in the NHL.  But most of those players have a higher ceiling, and given the Leafs approach to prospects, I think that is the best way to rank them.