Top Twenty Leafs Prospects Midterm Ranking: #15 to #11

#15 – Carter Ashton

Carter Ashton is a curious case.  Drafted in the 1st round by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2009, Ashton had a strong junior career that included representing Canada at the 2011 World Juniors. One year later, his trade to the Leafs came as a surprise amid a solid rookie campaign in the AHL. Since then, he’s been a mixed bag of promised potential and underwhelming performance. Playing 54 games in the NHL by the age of 23 is an encouraging sign for former first-rounders like Ashton, but putting up a miniscule 0 goals and 3 assists in all those games is not. Suspended this year by the NHL for the use of PEDs, Ashton has since cleared waivers and is back in the minors.

But where his production in the NHL has been disappointing, his production in the AHL leaves hope that Ashton could one day solidify himself as a grinder in the NHL. Over the last two seasons with the Marlies, Ashton has accumulated 31 points in 35 games with a shot-per-game rate of 3.02 to boot. His mix of NHL experience and AHL production at his age is a good sign. His lack of production in the NHL is not. The upside is small, but I do think he will end up settling in as a fourth-liner in the NHL one day. His lack of talent leaves him low on our list, but his safe projection as a role player leaves him in the discussion. – Shawn Reis

#14 – Sam Carrick

When we left Sam Carrick off of our pre-season top twenty, I was not amused. Actually, not amused might be an understatement; we were probably minutes away from a Burke vs. Lowe barnyard brawl, with myself being Burke and Lowe being literally everybody else.

I’ve always been high on Carrick’s potential to be a regular NHL player. I by no means expect him to turn into a superstar or even a top six forward, but he seems to be the prototypical modern bottom six centre. Carrick is a hard working, quick skater, who is very aggressive on the forecheck and doesn’t shy away from dirty areas. He barks back at his opponents and will even drop the gloves when necessary.

What I like most of all, however, is his ability to produce pure shot volume. Carrick, despite mostly being used in defensive situations, has been near the Marlies’ top-end in shots per game since he got here, averaging a shade over two per game in his 117 regular season games that he’s suited up for. This year, he’s struggling to find the back of the net with just three goals, but they’re coming with more frequency now (he had none in his first 19 games) and puck luck seems to be coming back in his favour. – Jeffler

#13 – Petter Granberg

Despite recently joining the Maple Leafs, Petter Granberg has slid from 10th in our preseason prospect rankings to 13th now. After reaching a lot of fanfare as the potential 6th or 7th defenceman on the Leafs, Petter was back with the Marlies. With Granberg the Leafs have another is the series of stay at home prospects. Granberg is still ranked ahead of Nilsson who isn’t as far along development wise to earn a NHL call-up, and Granberg seemingly carries a similar upside to Korbinian Holzer who has proven he really has no business playing in the NHL.

Granberg’s already shown in his few games in the NHL that he’s willing to hit, block shots, and love. Unfortunately those little things are best accompanied by a broader skill set and Granberg seems to lack NHL skill. It’s not that he’s slow or handles the puck poorly; he does okay for a replacement level shutdown defensemen. It’s just there’s nothing there to make you want to see him on the ice twenty minutes a night. If Granberg develops in an ideal manner he’ll be a Roman Polak clone, and could fit into a bottom pairing role with a ton of PK time, but realistically now being the injury call-up for right handed defencemen is probably where Petter will plateau. – Jon Steitzer

#12 – Antoine Bibeau

This is a massive jump for goaltender Antoine Bibeau, who was an honourable mention in our preseason rankings. Expected to be in tough against slightly-more established goaltending prospects in Garret Sparks and Christopher Gibson, Bibeau’s play has actually push Sparks down to the ECHL (where he’s crushing it – doesn’t deserve to be there) and is nearly matching Gibson in starts at the AHL level.

In 19 games, the first year pro sports a solid .918 SV% and a 2.52 GAA.

But does Bibeau really deserve to be this much higher in our rankings than Sparks and Gibson? Man, I don’t know… Bibeau is new and exciting, and was unbelievable in the Memorial Cup last season. He’s made the jump straight to the AHL and he’s performing well. At 20 years old, he’s the youngest of the Leafs’ three goaltending prospects. 

Bibeau might get the edge right now, but the Leafs’ goaltending depth chart is very fluid behind Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer. I mean, if one of the NHL goaltenders went down to injury, Bibeau is still probably the last guy I call up. – Justin Fisher

#11 – Carter Verhaeghe

Verhaeghe is an interesting prospect because he really made the Leafs’ scouts look good with a high-scoring draft-plus-one season in 2013-14 (1.26 point-per-game clip), but so far this year has taken a slight step back in production (1.10 point-per-game).

I had a chance to see this guy in person when the IceDogs visited Ottawa early this season, and I have to say I was impressed. 

Something I noticed in that game was that Verhaeghe let the puck do the work for him. A lot of high-skill players jump to a loose puck and try to do too much on their own, whereas he seemed to use a lot of chip passes to move the puck to the right lanes for teammates. I think that’s a skill that might translate well to the pros, so I’m not ready to give up on him yet.  We’ll see how things finish up for Verhaeghe with Niagara as the OHL season winds down. – Ryan Fancey

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  • Daniel W

    If I can suggest something, I think it would be nice if you could put stats beside each prospects name. Such as age, position, height, weight, and maybe even points. Just so that we know while reading each analysis.

    • Daniel W

      Seconded, good idea. I know the details are usually in the blurb for each guy, but make it easy for us readers to know the core details of the player at a glance 🙂