Toronto Maple Leafs Just May Have a New Top Prospect

(Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs, like every other NHL team, rely on their scouting department when it becomes time to draft. Scouts spend many hours traveling from city to city to evaluate numerous prospects.

While the Mark Hunter-era did not produce any late round players of consequence, the Toronto Maple Leafs system seems to be moving in the right direction.

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

At the NHL draft, most teams have a rough idea of where prospects are ranked through the first two rounds. After the second round of the NHL draft, it can be a guessing game when selecting prospects.

Every NHL general manager hopes to find a few hidden gems in the middle to late rounds of the draft. Toronto general manager Kyle Dubas has a few of those gems. Here is a look at a few of those gems from overseas.

Toronto Maple Leafs Prospect Gems From Overseas

Vyacheslav Peksa

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

During his draft-eligible season, Peksa put up some decent numbers. He posted 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 for gauging how good he is.

Jump ahead to this season, and you will see that his numbers have improved. His record right now is 10-8-5, which is not great, but that has more to do with the team in front of him. Peksa’s stats have greatly improved with a 1.78 GAA and .940 SV% with four shutouts.

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

(Stats from:

Topi Niemela

Topi Niemela is one recent Toronto Maple Leafs prospect that I have been keeping an eye on all season. The young Finnish defenseman is having a great season with Karpat in Liiga.

He now has five goals and 15 assists for 20 points in 23 games. Those 20 points have Niemela sitting in first on Karpat in points. He is also third in points out of the entire Liiga and only two points back of the leader.

This 2020 third-round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs is pushing himself higher up Toronto’s prospects list. Hopefully, he will be playing in North America soon as well.  With Sandin now an NHL regular and Nick Robertson struggling to stay healthy for any length of time, Niemela may be making a case to become the team’s top prospect.

Pontus Holmberg

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

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

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

Next. Leafs Top 10 Prospects. dark

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 every draft pick, you have to hope that they will either become a good player for you or play well enough to be used as an asset to trade later. These three are doing just that, and hopefully, we will see them in the NHL in the next few years.