Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Alex Steeves is having a great rookie year with the Toronto Marlies, but could find himself in a difficult position.
Much like Josh Leivo some seasons back, only time will tell as to whether Alex Steeves can eventually replicate his impressive rookie AHL goal scoring on the Toronto Maples Leafs roster.
Of course, the two are very different players but the comparison is fair in that Leivo never quite made it stick in the NHL, despite breaking the Marlies rookie goal scoring single-season record.
Right now, Alex Steeves is very much on pace to topple Leivo’s record, but hopefully he manages to establish himself, unlike Leivo, as a long-term member of the Toronto Maple Leafs NHL roster.
Where would Alex Steeves fit on the Toronto Maple Leafs roster?
While we’re comparing Alex Steeves to Josh Leivo solely on the basis of their rookie goal scoring, a fairer comparison in terms of play would be Adam Brooks.
In itself, this comparison is enough to frustrate a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, with Adam Brooks being the player twice plucked from waivers when the team tried to sneak him through.
Alex Steeves, much like Adam Brooks is a smaller-stature center, who uses his agility and small build to evade the opposition, as opposed to leading with size and physicality. Perhaps he’s what you might call the archetype for a modern bottom-six center. In years gone by, the role was dominated by hard-hitting big men, whereas these days there’s more focus on skill and acceleration.
The Toronto Maple Leafs already rewarded his efforts with a three-game call-up to the NHL, with the 22 year-old grabbing his first point. However, while that was all quite impressive, he’ll have to adapt to playing much further down the line-up in the NHL.
His utilization with the Toronto Marlies is typically on the wing of the first line; he isn’t projected to be anywhere near the top-line with the Toronto Maple Leafs. This is where the challenges lie for the University of Notre Dame product. He needs to find a way to continue his impressive goal scoring with less ice-time.
It’s something that Josh Leivo never managed to figure out with the Toronto Maple Leafs, instead finding his pathway blocked by higher skilled players and then never managing to carve out a role lower down the line-up.
If Alex Steeves can figure out that part of the equation, he’s right on his way to stake a claim to a Toronto Maple Leafs roster spot. Jason Spezza isn’t going to be on the roster forever; his current position could be an ideal fit.
He is exactly the sort of prospect that the organization is going to continue to rely upon, given he arrived undrafted at a time when draft picks are tradable assets.
In fact, if Alex Steeves makes it to the Toronto Maple Leafs full-time, he will become one of the poster children for the team to seek even more undrafted college prospects.