When you mention prospects and the Toronto Maple Leafs in the same sentence, most people just laugh. But I know there are a few players in the Leafs' system who are not only bona fide prospects, but who have the potential to make the NHL as well. Here are five Leafs prospects you have never heard of before:
Until last year, this guy was noted as a defenseman that was average at everything. Not overly good, not overly bad. But last year he lit up the Russian Super League with 16 goals and 12 assists for 28 points in only 55 games.
He has a heavy shot from the point and is very accurate with it as well. The only thing keeping this guy from becoming a solid NHLer is the fact that he wants to stay in Russia. He loves playing in his homeland and that is what’s making this guy an unknown Leafs prospect.
Player Comparison: Bryan McCabe
Phil Oreskovic is the most underrated prospect in the Leafs system. He is a bone-crushing hitter that is very solid in his own zone.
The downside with Oreskovic is that he has no offensive upside. He has mediocre speed and his passing is safe and average. But what more can you ask for from a defensive defenseman?
If this former OHL Defensive Defenseman of the Year can work on his skating and timing with his passes, he could be a huge prospect for the Leafs.
Player Comparison: Cory Sarich
Ruegsegger is one of two players in this article that would be top five prospects if it wasn’t for two things holding them back: skating and size.
Ruegsegger has amazing hands and great elusiveness with the puck and he is good at both ends. His skating is below average and his size as of now leaves more to be desired. If he can improve those two things then I believe he will eventually be in a Leafs uniform.
Player Comparison: Jason Blake
Here’s the second player with loads of potential but lack of size and skating ability.
He is great at both ends and can handle the puck with the best of them. He was fifth in the QMJHL last year with 95 points and did it with almost no help.
He has great hands and good playmaking ability. If he is able to work on his skating and bulk up a bit, then we will most definitely have a good shot at the NHL.
Player Comparison: Matt Stajan
Reimer is a goalie and would be getting a lot more notice if he wasn't being overshadowed by Justin Pogge.
Reimer has the ability to steal a game with his big frame and dares shooters to try to beat him. If not for a terrible Red Deer squad last year, along with an ankle injury, his stats would be much more impressive.
He should be starting the year competing to back up Pogge in the AHL. If not, he will get significant playing time in the ECHL. When he finally gets a legitimate shot with the Marlies, look for his stock to rise.
Player Comparison: Sean Burke