The Toronto Maple Leafs recently reached the halfway point of their season with a loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday, January 14th.
Most of the Toronto Maple Leafs prospects have reached the halfway point in their seasons. I figured it would be the perfect time to see how some of them are doing.
The Leafs have several prospects who are having good seasons in both junior and the AHL.
Some prospects may be more than a year away from making it to the NHL full-time, but others could challenge for a roster spot next season. Doing so would help Leafs management from a salary cap standpoint.
Toronto Maple Leafs Prospect Update for January 2024
If you ever get the chance to see a Toronto Marlies game or a junior-level hockey game in person, you should do so. Most of the time, it is more entertaining than the NHL. The players seem to play with more heart and passion than most of those in the NHL do. Prospects are still trying to prove themselves to management and earn a chance to be promoted.
The Leafs will be relying on a few prospects to make the jump next season as the team looks to fill roster spots with inexpensive players to stay within the NHL salary cap.
A team never wants to rush a prospect, but sometimes, the salary cap dictates what an NHL general manager does with the team's prospects. Sometimes, a GM needs to decide if they want to keep a prospect at the NHL level or try to sign another player to a league minimum contract.
Easton Cowan is on an absolute tear in the OHL this season with the London Knights. He has 16 goals and 34 assists for 50 points in 28 games.
For comparison, Cowan registered 20 goals and 33 assists last season for 53 points in 68 games. He is leaps and bounds better than last season. Cowan's current projected stats are that he will finish the season with 31 goals and 67 assists for 98 points in 55 games. Not bad for a kid that is only 18 years old. (All stats from eliteprospects.com)
Due to Fraser Minten starting the season with the Leafs at the NHL level and being in the IIHF World Junior Championship, Minten will not play as many games this season in the WHL as he did in previous seasons.
Last season, Minten registered 31 goals and 36 assists for 67 points in 57 games. With five goals and 15 assists right now, he is projected to finish the season with 13 goals and 40 assists for 53 points in 43 games. Minten will likely challenge for a roster spot with the Leafs at next season's training camp.
Topi Niemela is in his first complete season with the Toronto Marlies in the AHL. He is the Leafs top defense prospect and a right-shooting defenseman, which is a plus. Niemela has six goals and 15 assists for 21 points in 31 games. He is projected to finish the season with 14 goals and 34 assists for 48 points in 70 games. Depending on what happens with the Leafs defense this off-season, Niemela could challenge for an NHL roster spot next season.
Ryan Tverberg is enjoying a decent first season in the AHL after three seasons in the NCAA playing for the University of Connecticut.
He currently has six goals and 12 assists for 18 points in 18 games. Tverberg is projected to finish the season with 19 goals and 38 assists for 57 points in 57 games. Tverberg will likely start in the AHL next season.