Toronto Maple Leafs: Top 5 Underrated Prospects

Brandon LoganContributor INovember 23, 2011

Toronto Maple Leafs: Top 5 Underrated Prospects

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    We know the big names in the Maple Leafs prospect pool, such as Nazem Kadri, Brad Ross, Greg McKegg and various others. But there are always a group of unknown prospects who don't get the praise they deserve.

    These are the prospects who have been late-round draft picks or un-drafted.  

    In no particular order, here are some of the Maple Leafs' most underrated prospects 

Sondre Olden

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    Sondre Olden was selected 79th overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2010 NHL Draft.

    Olden, who is a product of Norway, has recently transferred to the Erie Otters of the OHL this season. In 17 games, Olden has recorded 14 points. Although he had a slow start to the season, he has quietly begun to pick up his game. 

    At 6'4", he is still a lanky 18-year-old, but once he begins to build muscle and mass, he will have a combination of size, skill and speed that is not seen often.

    If there is an area of his game that needs improvement, it would be his shot. At the moment it is quite weak and must improve if he wants to have a productive NHL career.

    Olden is still years of development away from contributing to the Maple Leafs, but he is an interesting prospect who could project into a Top 6 play-making forward.


Mark Owuya

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    Mark Owuya was passed over in three consecutive NHL drafts. He was finally signed by the Toronto Maple Leafs this past summer and was expected to play most of the year with Reading Royals of the ECHL.

    He is a butterfly goalie who needs to develop his technique. This is where Francois Allaire comes into the picture.

    Allaire, who is widely considered one of the best goaltending coaches in the NHL, will be working with Owuya on a constant basis.

    Because of the James Reimer injury, Owuya was assigned to the Toronto Marlies to fill the empty roster spot that Ben Scrivens left.

    In five starts with the Marlies, Owuya has posted a 3-1-1 record with a 1.51 GAA and save percentage over .940.

    If Owuya continues his positive development, he will leap frog Jussi Rynnas on the Maple Leafs depth chart.

    Keep your eye on Mark Owuya. 

Josh Nicholls

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    Taken in the seventh round of the 2010 Draft, Josh Nicholls has quietly impressed the Maple Leafs. 

    In his draft eligible season, Nicholls posted 48 points in 71 games, which is nothing too spectacular. His breakout season last year was questioned by many, as he'd often play on a line with Brayden Schenn. Nicholls increased his point total 39 points that season.

    With Schenn gone, and Nicholls having to carry the offensive load for the Saskatoon Blades this season, he has not slowed down. In 25 games, Nicholls has recorded 30 points, proving that Schenn was not the cause of his breakout season and that he is legitimate prospect.

    The strength of Nicholls' game is that he plays very well in the defensive zone, which could translate to him having a strong NHL career. If he does not project out to be a Top 6 forward, his strong defensive game may help him land a roll in the bottom 6.

    He still has many years of development before he threatens to make the Maple Leafs roster, but he is an interesting late-round flier who is turning some heads in the organization.  

Simon Gysbers

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    After four seasons with Lake Superior State University, Simon Gysbers signed a two-way contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

    Gysbers is entering his second full season with the Toronto Marlies. He is known for his strong defensive game, along with underrated offensive skill, which saw him record 31 points in 60 games last season.

    He has continued his strong offensive play this year with the Marlies, as he makes his case to find a roster spot on a crowded Maple Leafs blue line.

    His best shot at landing in the NHL may be through another organization with less defensive depth. Hopefully the Maple Leafs can hold onto him, because he looks like he could be a gem.


Marcel Mueller

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    After the 2009-10 season with the Cologne Sharks, Marcel Mueller signed a two-way contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

    The 6'4" power forward was most known for a stellar 2010 Olympic performance on a weak German team.

    Fitting Brian Burke's definition of truculence and having no power forward at the time, Mueller was brought in to bring an added dimension to the Maple Leafs organization.

    In his first season as a Marlie, Muller tallied 33 points in 57 games.

    He had a brief three-game stint with the Maple Leafs where he played the majority of the time on the third and fourth lines.

    This season has been a turning point for Mueller. Fifteen games into the AHL season and he is averaging around a PPG. If Mueller can continue his development this year, he could be fighting for a roster spot at next year's training camp.