5 Toronto Maple Leafs Forward Prospects That Are Almost Ready for the NHL

Chicago Blackhawks v Toronto Maple Leafs
Chicago Blackhawks v Toronto Maple Leafs / Claus Andersen/GettyImages
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Ryan Tverberg

Following the theme of beating the odds and exceeding expectations, there is nothing closer to this than Tverberg.

In his draft year, he played in the OJHL, staying in Junior A in order to maintain NCAA eligibility. Then, he was drafted in the seventh round by the Leafs (who traded into the round to acquire him). Then, went to the University of Connecticut and quickly became one of their best forwards winning Hockey East first team all-star honours, second team all-American and a Hobey Baker nomination.

He turned pro last season and once again rose the ranks on the Marlies, becoming a mainstay in their top-six by season’s end after scoring nine goals and 32 points in 46 games.

His hard forechecking and net-front style mixed with his punishing two-way play and offensive creativity makes him an interesting dark horse candidate for a bottom-six role with the Leafs. 

He brings the bite that any team covets and if he can refine his game, he could be a sleeper candidate to develop into a top-nine “puck retriever” type role.

There have been many players who have seen usage in this role with the Leafs stars but none have been a true homegrown player like Tverberg. Even if he does not, his high floor seems to beg the question of when he will make the Leafs roster, not if.

Much has been made about the Leafs lack of first round picks over the past half-decade plus but it is a testament to the scouting and management/player development staff that there are at least a handful of prospects knocking on the door.

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This is just the forwards as well, taking a larger look, there could conceivably be as many as 10 prospects that are close to the NHL. Whether they make it or not, only time will tell.