No. 2: Topi Niemela
If you look at the Toronto Maple Leafs roster right now, the biggest problem they currently have is on defense.
Their entire defensive group is terrible and seriously needs an upgrade.
The Leafs are lacking physical players, players with upside, and elite players. They basically need to improve on the back-end anyway they can.
It would be great to see one of the core-four forwards get traded for a top-two defenseman, but that seems unrealistic. As a result, the team may need to look within in order to better their group.
The team’s current best defensive prospect is Topi Niemela, who played six games in the AHL last season.
It’s a little worrisome that he doesn’t have a ton of experience in North America yet, so making a jump to the NHL immediately may be a stretch, but the Leafs should seriously consider him.
He’s a fantastic defenseman, who plays both sides effectively and would really help get the puck up the ice, which is Toronto’s bread and butter.
As mentioned, it may be a little early for Niemela, but at this rate, I think he could be a top-four defenseman based on the current defenseman depth they have.