Toronto Maple Leafs Top 10 Prospects for the 2023-24 NHL Season

TORONTO, CANADA - APRIL 27: Matthew Knies #23 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates with the puck against the Tampa Bay Lightning during Game Five of the First Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on April 27, 2023 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Lightning defeated the Maple Leafs 4-2.(Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
TORONTO, CANADA - APRIL 27: Matthew Knies #23 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates with the puck against the Tampa Bay Lightning during Game Five of the First Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on April 27, 2023 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Lightning defeated the Maple Leafs 4-2.(Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /
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Easton Cowan - Toronto Maple Leafs
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – JUNE 28: Easton Cowan speaks to the media after being selected by the Toronto Maple Leafs with the 28th overall pick (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images) /

#5 Easton Cowan

Age:   18

Height/Weight:   5’10 170lbs

Position:  Left Wing

Shoots:   Left

Draft:  1st round 28th overall 2021

The Toronto Maple Leafs went off the board when they selected Easton Cowan 28th overall this past summer.

I have an entire professional league to cover, so I don’t pretend to have opinions on junior players or where they should be drafted, but it always seems weird to me when fans get upset about a team going off the board and making a surprise pick.

The NHL Entry Draft is a crapshoot at the best of times.  Even when you pick first you don’t necessarily have a guaranteed star player.  If you pick in the top ten, at least 40% of the time you won’t get a very good player.

So when you pick 28th, who cares who. you take?

The Toronto Maple Leafs clearly saw something other teams didn’t, because they took Cowen and were not willing to risk trading down for him.

It seems they were right, too, since he almost made the NHL immediately after being drafted.  While it is expected that Cowan will be sent back to junior, as I write this, he is still with the big club at the end of camp.

Cowan is a potentially awesome player because he has first round talent and he’s just as smart and determined as every other player on this list.

LIke Nick Robertson, he’s always going. He’s a dogged player who is impossible to knock off the puck. He isn’t a huge guy, but he is extremely fit, even for a pro athlete.

He is the kind of player with a non-stop motor who can take his god-given talent and do more with it than similarly talented players because he doesn’t know the meaning of the word quit.

Like virtually every single Leafs prospect, he is smart, positionally sound, hyper-aware and a master of anticipation.

He’s a playmaker, but he can shoot. His skating is top notch, and he’s got high-end potential because he’s so smart.  He doesn’t have the flat-out talent of a Marner or a Nylander, but his ability to protect the puck, his skating, and his motor will make him a very good NHL player, at the least.

He is only 18 and can get better. His potential is a star player, maybe something less than a franchise player but even that isn’t completely out of the question.  The fact that he could probably play in the NHL right now, despite not possessing the top-of-the-draft skill of a Bedard or Fantilli says a ton about him and his potential.