Unknown Toronto Maple Leafs Prospect Making a Name in NCAA

St. Cloud State Huskies standout is a Toronto Maple Leafs prospect. (Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)
St. Cloud State Huskies standout is a Toronto Maple Leafs prospect. (Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs have a number of prospects who are believed to make a big impact by the time they reach the NHL.

There are others in the system who are considered a long shot at making it to the Toronto Maple Leafs. There is one particular player who is moving from obscurity to prominence.

In the sixth-round (168th overall) of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, the Leafs selected Veeti Miettinen out of Finland.

At 5’9″, 172 lbs, he may not have been on the radar of most teams, but one thing was clear, he knew how to produce offense.

Unknown Toronto Maple Leafs Prospect Making a Name in NCAA

After a season where he recorded 73 points in 52 games on 42 goals and 31 assists in the Finnish junior league, Under 20 SM-Liiga, for his hometown team of Kiekko-Espoo, the right-winger committed to St. Cloud State University Huskies in the NCAA Division I.

It appeared as though the transition to North America was a seamless one. (All statistics from Elite Prospects)

Miettinen joined the Huskies in the 2020-21 season. He was a valuable player for the team, but his numbers did take a dip. In his rookie season, he scored 11 goals and 13 assists in 31 games, which actually tied Nolan Walker for the team lead in points.

Miettinen was named the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) Rookie of the Year and was unanimously named to the NCHC All-Rookie Team. He also helped the Huskies win the NCHC regular season title and reach the Frozen Four for just the second time in school history, where they lost in the championship game to Massachusetts.

Miettinen continued to perform in the 2021-22 season, but was surpassed by some of his teammates. That year, he scored 10 goals and 13 assists in 37 games. This time there were six players on his team with points, including defenseman and current Tampa Bay Lightning, Nick Perbix. In 2022-23, Miettinen scored 12 goals and 24 assists in 41 games, which was once again respectable.

It wasn’t until this season, Miettinen is senior year at St. Cloud State that he has put the NCHC and NCAA on notice. In his first 14 games, he has been unstoppable. Miettinen has already notched 10 goals and four assists, which has been good enough to see him own the third highest goals-per-game average in the conference.

Perhaps it has been playing alongside his younger brother, Verner Miettinen, that has elevated the Maple Leafs prospect’s game. Whatever the reason, there’s no doubt that the brass in Toronto are really enjoying seeing the rise of this gifted player.

The biggest issue for the Toronto Maple Leafs is that Miettinen remains unsigned. As his stock rises, so too does his leverage to hold out on inking a deal with Toronto. If Miettinen chooses not to sign with the Leafs they will lose his rights if they don’t agree to terms by June 1, 2024.

If a player isn’t signed four years from their NHL draft date, they become an unrestricted free agent. That means the Leafs will need to ramp up their push to get Miettinen into the organization. There’s a good chance that once he’s done helping the Huskies in the playoffs, he will be signed to join the Toronto Marlies.

Next. Leafs Top 10 Prospects. dark

At 22-years-old, the future is looking very bright for Miettinen. He’s a player the Maple Leafs don’t want to see slip away.