While Kyle Dubas and his staff have been hard at work reshaping the Maple Leafs roster and adding veterans such as TJ Brodie, Wayne Simmonds, and Zach Bogosian to the fold, several of the organization’s younger talents have continued their work towards staking their own claim to a Leafs roster spot in the future. In this, the strangest of fall seasons in which there is barely any high level hockey taking place in North America, it’s exciting for Leafs fans to have so many of the organization’s prospects playing overseas while we await the next NHL season. Let’s get to it.
Rodion Amirov – LW/RW – Salavat Yulaev Ufa
The Leafs’ most recent first round selection has predominantly played right wing on Ufa’s first line in the early part of the season but found himself on the left side of the third line for yesterday’s game. Just barely 19 years old, Amirov has been playing big minutes in a prime role against more mature players and has not looked out of place. His three goals and three assists through the first 14 games of the KHL season have already tripled his output from the 21 games he played as an 18 year old last season.
Couple of Rodion Amirov highlights from the second period today:
– Walks off the half-wall, dangles around a Sibir defender, and manages to get an attempt off
– A nice play at the line to find Vorobyov alone in front pic.twitter.com/XeBONudmJs
— ghostly leafies (@mostlyleafies) October 8, 2020
Mikhail Abramov – C – Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL)
Abramov is off to another hot start this season, currently tied for third in QMJHL scoring with two goals and six assists through the first four games. Unfortunately, his opportunity to add to those totals has been put on hold as the QMJHL has suspended operations for all Quebec based teams until at least October 28th due to spiking covid-19 numbers in the area. With the league partially shutting down just after getting started, the status of Abramov’s season in Victoriaville is up in the air for the time being.
Mikhail Abramov scores his second of the season in game 3. Sixth point of the year. pic.twitter.com/mogRFn7kep
— Kevin Papetti (@KPapetti) October 10, 2020
Filip Hallander – LW – Lulea (SHL)
Hallander hasn’t been lighting up the scoreboard in the early part of the SHL season with just a goal and an assist through five games, but he has been trusted with a first line role when healthy and has made Toronto’s management group take notice. In a Zoom call with the media this week, GM Kyle Dubas mentioned Hallander as a potential depth option for this season along with names like Nick Robertson and Nic Petan. Given the Leafs’ abundance of depth forward options, it will be an uphill battle for Hallander to make the roster this season but it appears as though he’ll receive an opportunity in training camp.
Artur Akhtyamov – G – Ak Bars Kazan (KHL)
Almost immediately after the Leafs selected Akhtyamov in the fourth round of last week’s draft, the 18 year old netminder was recalled to Ak Bars Kazan of the KHL. He made his debut coming in for a relief appearance and followed that up with his first career start in Russia’s top league. Through two appearances, Akhtyamov is 0-1-1 with a 2.42 GAA and .918 save percentage.
— Nick Richard (@_NickRichard) October 10, 2020
Dmitri Ovchinnikov – C/RW – Siberskie Snaipery Novosibirsk (MHL)
The Leafs made a move to trade up and select Ovchinnikov in the fifth round of last week’s draft and through the early part of the MHL season, he is showing why the Leafs were aggressive in pursuing him in that range. He is up to six goals and five assists through eight games, and recorded seven points in a two game span last week. Ovchinnikov is a highly skilled offensive player who can do damage as a shooter or a passer but will need to add some muscle to his 5’11” frame as he progresses through the ranks in Russia.
today in the MHL: new leafs prospect dmitri ovchinnikov scores 36s into the game pic.twitter.com/laX0NRvI17
— mitch marney (@marnylandersen) October 9, 2020
Filip Kral – LHD – HC Prerov (Czech2)
Following a solid overage season in the WHL, the Leafs rewarded their fifth round pick from 2018 with a three-year entry level contract. He was loaned to HC Prerov in the second tier Czech league back in August and he has been very impressive at that level. He is playing huge minutes and has already picked up 10 points through 7 games. Kral will likely return to North America for training camp but where he ends up for the duration of the season could depend on the status of Toronto’s AHL and ECHL affiliates.
A fantastic start to the season for #Leafs prospect Filip Kral (LHD). With HC Prerov (Czech 2nd tier), Kral has 4 PTS in 2 GP already, but the key for me is his ice-time.
33:48 in his debut (OT game) and 25:42 in his second are huge minutes for a 20 YO defenceman against pros. pic.twitter.com/6xvARnPj9c
— Kyle Cushman (@Kyle_Cush) September 27, 2020
Axel Rindell – RHD – Jukurit (Liiga)
Rindell has had a nice start to the Liiga season, picking up a goal and two assists through his first five games. Rindell has seen an increase in ice time in the last couple of games and was most recently paired up with fellow Maple Leafs prospect Mikko Kokkonen on Jukurit’s blue line. Rindell is an offensive defenceman who skates well and uses his quick feet to elude pressure at the offensive blue line to open up shooting lanes. He shoots the puck at a high volume as well, averaging almost 5 shots on goal per game through the early part of the season.
#LeafsForever prospect Mikko Kokkonen still looking for his first point this season, but led Jukurit in icetime with 24:26.
New prospect Axel Rindell paired up with Kokkoken and also went pointless and was third in icetime for Jukurit with 22:31. He has 3 points in 5 games.
— AleSTANdro Kirk (@brigstew86) October 15, 2020
Pontus Holmberg – C – Vaxjo Lakers (SHL)
Though he is often listed as the fourth line center on the lineup card for Vaxjo, Holmberg is averaging over 16:31 of ice time through seven games. He scored a couple of goals and won 53.9% of his faceoffs in yesterday’s matchup with Frolunda, bringing his totals to three goals and one assist on the season. He is currently one point shy of the team lead.
— Nick Richard (@_NickRichard) October 15, 2020
Kalle Loponen – RHD – Karpat U20 (U20 SM-sarja)
The Leafs seventh round selection from last year’s draft returned to his native Finland for the 2020-2021 season after spending last season with the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL. Karpat has a deep defensive group which has left Loponen and newly drafted Leafs prospect, Topi Niemela, relegated to their U20 team. While it would be nice for Loponen to be honing his skills at Finland’s highest level, he is at least producing well in the junior ranks. In 13 games so far, he has three goals and five assists – good enough for first among defencemen on his team.
File this under meaningless but interesting: Leafs 3rd round pick Topi Niemela played on a defence pair in Karpat's last game with 2019 Leafs 7th round pick Kalle Loponen.
— Joshua Kloke (@joshuakloke) October 7, 2020