3 Toronto Maple Leafs Defense Prospects That Could Make The NHL Next Year

Toronto Maple Leafs v Montreal Canadiens
Toronto Maple Leafs v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages
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Mikko Kokkonen, 23, LHD

One of the more underrated prospects currently in the Leafs system, Kokkonen has made good impressions on the Leafs staff before being called “The surprise of camp.”

By former head coach Sheldon Keefe. Kokkonen’s game is not very flashy, which is what makes him so underrated.

He is a dependable defensive player, logging big minutes and top PK time with the Marlies.

He does have an underrated offensive game  and has made improvements in his time in North America but I would not expect him to rack up points.

Through 112 games with the Toronto Marlies, Kokkonen has scored only six goals and 32 points.

As a defender who logs as much time as he does, you would hope he could produce at a more consistent rate. However, 19 of his 32 points came this past season when he played 65 games. As well, he did have a couple decent seasons from a point-production perspective in Liiga, highlighted by a 19 point campaign through 56 games in 2018-19.

The path for him to make the team is not as clear as Niemela, mainly due to his left-handedness. However, he has spent a lot of time on the right-side and on the top unit which could give him an advantage.

If he can have a repeat performance at this season’s training camp, he may force the team to make a tough decision. If not, he will definitely need to show more offensive growth in order to make him a valuable player at the next level.