Up next on our TLN Top Twenty Prospects list we have Viktor Lööv, our second defenceman in as many days with Justin starting things off with Rinat Valiev on Monday. Like Valiev, Lööv was drafted as an overager, taken by the Leafs in the 7th round (209th overall) in 2012.
Lööv is a newcomer to our pre-season top twenty, but was an honourable mention in TLN’s midterm rankings last season. A strong summer rookie camp has him climbing the charts, as four of our nine writers voted him high enough to get him on to the list. Those who like him, like him a lot.
Originally from Södertälje, Lööv (listed at 6’3 and 190lbs) spent the early part of his young career with his hometown team in the Allsvenskan (Sweden’s second league), before making the jump to Modo of the SHL this past season.
In his first season in Sweden’s top league, Lööv notched 12 points in 42 games for Modo, averaging 16:20 in ice time with minimal powerplay duties (0:42 per game).
Considered a long-term prospect, Lööv will turn 22 years old this November, so this will obviously be an important season for him in determining where he really stands in the Leafs’ prospect pool. Until now, he has been playing overseas, but recently signed an entry-level deal with the Leafs and should suit up with the Marlies this upcoming season. He’s a prospect the team is excited about.
“Loov is very talented,” said Jim Hughes, the team’s director of player development who is running the prospect camp this week. “He’s graceful on his skates. A big body that plays physical. He’s looking for open-ice hits. He moves the puck, but what separates him is his skating ability.“He skates on top of the ice. He doesn’t lose any traction. He gains speed. He’s got great power, great explosion, great acceleration. It makes everything in his game easier because his skating is so strong.”
Since being drafted, Lööv has been viewed as an excellent passer, so it’s nice to see that his skating is in line with that kind of skill. He doesn’t appear to shy away from the physical game either, as he’s been known to throw a few open-ice bombs. There have been questions about whether his shot is big-league ready, however.
Lööv is another overseas pick by way of the Leafs’ European scout Thommie Bergman, and the hope is likely for him to turn out on a slow and steady development curve like Gunnarsson or Stralman (also late-round picks) before him.
It’s no secret that a 7th rounder who’s already 21 years old and ranks 19th on our list is still a major long shot to play a significant amount of games in the NHL. But with a shiny new Leafs contract and another season amongst real pros, we should have a better sense of where he’s at when we get around to our midterm rankings, especially if he’s in that Marlies lineup where we can get a better look at him.