Pronman: Leafs have 2nd Best Prospect System in the NHL

Corey Pronman is a polarizing name in the NHL, but one thing is certain – if anyone knows prospect systems inside and out, it’s the long-tenured ESPN Insider. 

Which means that when he says that the Toronto Maple Leafs have the second best prospect system in the NHL, it’s absolutely true. 

No, really. He’s totally right. 

Pronman released his Insider’s List of Prospect Systems on Tuesday, and put the Leafs second behind only the Edmonton Oilers. Here’s his reasoning: 

“The Leafs’ system has skyrocketed the past 12 months, following a great 2015 draft, key trades and progression from some prospects. Mitch Marner and William Nylander are true top-flight names, and they have a lot of depth in quality prospects, many of whom are in my top 100 overall NHL prospects column.”

This is a jump from 17th, where he had them ranked last year – showing exactly how much the current administration has done to overhaul the crap system that Nonis and his predecessors had managed to put in place. Between the two lost first rounders that [briefly] brought the Boston Bruins Dougie Hamilton and Tyler Seguin and the issues that Tyler Biggs, Brad Ross, and Carter Ashton have had actually succeeding as legitmate NHL prospects, the Leafs looked pretty S.O.L. there for a bit. 

Now, of course, they look fantastic. 

As Pronman mentions, the Leafs could have cornerstone franchise players in both Mitch Marner and William Nylander, who look dynamic and exciting as offensive playmakers with both talent and surface flash appeal. Then they’ve got Kasperi Kapanen – who was a bit of a steal of Pittsburgh late in the first round last summer – and even if Morgan Rielly is no longer considered a prospect, the thought of him and Travis Dermott anchoring the blue line moving forward isn’t a bad thought at all. Add in Brendan Leipsic as your hopeful dynamic pest and Connor Brown as one of the biggest jumps from his draft year to now, and the Leafs have a ton to offer.

Of course, it would have taken a minor miracle for the Leafs to jump ahead of the Oilers in the prospect rankings this year – Connor McDavid is described as the Oilers’ golden ticket to the chocolate factory – but the fact that they managed to jump ahead of both the Buffalo Sabres and the Arizona Coyotes (who selected second and third overall, and each boast a heavy arsenal of dynamic offensive talent to go with young, high-end blue lines) says a lot about who Toronto has in their system. The only thing that’s conspicuously absent from their prospect list – and it’s absent from Buffalo’s and Arizona’s, as well, with only Edmonton offering anything in this category – is goaltending; although Pronman doesn’t mention it, this is an area the Leafs still badly need to address. 

Whatever, though. For the time being, let’s celebrate going from one of the most godawful prospect pools (for perspective, we ranked Matt Finn second in the prospect depth chart last year) to #2 – in less than a full year. 

Shanahan, please. Keep doing you. 

  • Benjamin

    For me, this speaks to the strength of the Leafs’ forward prospects.

    I still think the Leafs defence and goalie prospects are decidedly meh. Not that they don’t have future NHLers at either position, but there is definitely no sure thing at either position.

    The fact that Marner, Nylander, Kapanen, Brown et al. can make up for that and get the Leafs to 2nd overall, is damn impressive.

  • SEER

    I agree with Pronman, to a point..

    The Oilers have had a heck of a lot of “luck”, getting the top picks so many times… in the last recent seasons ..(and some would hint, that there is more than luck involved in it..)

    What I’m not seeing with them, though.. is a great ability to “develop their prospects”… There doesn’t seem to have been someone involved to put a rein on some of the many young egos on that team… (as I have heard from some genuine insiders there)…

    I am concerned for the talent of Darnell Nurse being involved with them.. (and of course.., McDavid) if this isn’t immediately addressed…, this season.. Both are extremely highly-talented players (in my opinion) and deserve the best mentors around them..

    (*Also want to say thanks and give a shout-out to Darnell, who has been the only player (NHL/AHL OR OTHERWISE) who has taken the time and gratefulness to message me through my video channel and thank me for all the montages and tributes that I do… Even though I have never done one for him… That’s a classy gentleman, in my books..)

    Here’s a LINk for my TML Prospects Full Playlist, if you want to see certain players.. If you want to see all of them, just go to my main page, scroll down to the playlist.. and click on PLAY ALL… and they will all play one after another..

    (*and a sidenote to a certain person on here that seems to despise every post I make.. I do not have my video channel monetized, nor do I receive ANY type of compensation for all the videos I make.. I do it all out of Leaf-Love.. and voluntarily…)



      • SEER

        LOL! Thanks, Ryan.. But violence is never the answer to anything.., unless your defending yourself against violence.. (and you’ve tried all alternate solutions first.., in my opinion)..

        I have no idea exactly who it is, as I don’t see any way of tracking on this forum..? I suspect it is one of my few regular haters from the old TML Forum, though..

        I appreciate the intention and sentiment, but no need for war.. : )

    • Gary Empey

      Don’t worry too much about the trash (unless your wife tells you to take it out). I think they are meant to be a bit of fun. I know they can also be very hurtful. I often see harmless statements here being trashed and wonder how anyone could trash that. Yes yours included. If you have noticed anyone who has trashed your posts never leave a comment to you. You should take it to mean they really don’t have anything to say or they have trouble putting a sentence together.

      Try to remember this is a public forum and not only Leaf fans are on this site but fans of other teams. Some of them enjoy irritating Leaf Nation. I am quite sure all the true Leaf fans appreciate all the hard work you put into the links you post here. I know I do.

      For me I would rather see the choices as “Agree” or “Disagree”. Lots of times I would like to disagree but don’t, as the only option is to “Trash” the comment. To me the trash feels like telling someone to shut-up and that would not be my intention. I value other people’s opinion. It helps me see through my blue-tinted glasses.

      Please try and remember I have a lot of faults but being wrong is not one of them.

      • Gary Empey

        “Please try and remember I have a lot of faults but being wrong is not one of them.”

        Did you just try to throw personal accountability out the window?

        You’re 100% at fault for being wrong when you’re wrong. The best thing you can do is own it and admit it – people will be okay with others being wrong when this happens.

        • SEER

          Very true.., but from what I saw on the old Leaf board.., “very few” can ever admit to it… Seems the Internet is often a place where people become legends in their own minds.. LOL!

      • SEER

        Thanks, Gary… Wise words.. Appreciated…

        I really don’t let it affect my day.. Positive and/or negative things said on the Internet by someone I don’t know in real life, have little affect on my mood.. (although I must admit, it feels good when they are positive..).

        Don’t have a wife though, so I take out my own trash.. LOL! : ) (and even if I did, that would be a chore I’d keep doing myself…)

  • silentbob


    These types of lists are mostly just canon fodder for Fan-boy debates. There are/will be dozens of these lists made over the next 12 months, each one different, and I’d be surprised if there was any link between a high ranking and future success.

    For example, here is the 2010 hockeysfuture system ranking – – Hardly the best of the NHL today, and how many players do they praise that turned out less then expected or aren’t pro’s at all?

    I guess its better to be ranked 2nd then 28th, but this is hardly an indication of future success. Here is Hockey Prospectus list from 2011 – – Today would you rather be the team ranked 1st, 3rd or 23rd?

    The Leafs have some good prospects, they need to develop them as best they can. They need to add more top prospects to that group, and HOPEFULLY this process will yield positive, on-ice results.

    • Gary Empey

      I understand you feelings on this. For sure in the past management has often traded our first rounder for a player who turned out to be a waste of space and quickly faded into obscurity. I do think there may come a time when we may need one more elite piece to make a big splash in the playoffs. To get such a player we may have to mortgage our future or get knocked out in the early rounds.

      Our present leafs are actually in a great position to cash in from teams looking for that piece this year. We have seen some of their skills at this last year, and only now do we understand just how astute Team Shanahan is.

  • SEER

    Yes, how the internet has ruined society when it comes to interacting with others.

    Leafsnation is a much better place to be. I don’t remember the last time I was on the Leafs boards.

    This group seems to be more insightful (having articles to respond to helps) and the members are less unjustly hostile to eachother.