It’s been an exciting week for Leaf fans, with the post-deadline call-ups we got to finally see the first wave of prospects that promise to be a key part of the future success of the franchise. Nylander, Kapanen, Soshnikov, Hyman and Leipsic have all had impressive NHL debuts and are showing that each has a strong chance of being a big part of the Leafs for a long time. The guys coming up from the Marlies have had all the attention this week, and rightfully so but with the CHL regular season nearing an end there are going to be a lot of big games upcoming for the younger prospects in the Leafs system.
Mitch And The Boys Are Making A Run
The London Knights have been on a hot streak recently, going 11-2 in their past 13 games and it’s no surprise that Mitch Marner has been a huge part of that success. In those 13 games, Marner has an absurd 33 points. Spending a lot of time back on the wing, Marner has been producing at a rate greater than his record-setting pace from last season. We knew he was probably too good for the OHL when the season started but he’s just making it more and more obvious with each passing month.
— The Tank Nation (@TLNdc) March 4, 2016
While the team has been hot, the other Leaf prospect in London hasn’t been quite as brilliant as Marner. JJ Piccinich as cooled off significantly from his great December and January. Relegated to mostly third-line minutes, Piccinich’s role has shrunk as his teammates returned from the World Juniors. Currently, he’s riding a five-game point streak and down the stretch, Piccinich is a guy to keep an eye on. In the OHL playoffs, often times secondary players turn out to be more important to their teams as opponents spend the series focusing on shutting down the top guys. If teams go all-out to shut down Dvorak, Tkachuk and Marner, guys like Piccinich, Max Jones and Cliff Pu could break out in the playoffs as they did when the top line was away for most of December. Going into their matchup with Kitchener this afternoon, the London will be looking to put a little more breathing space between themselves and the Rangers. With an eye towards top spot in the Midwest division, the Knights have seven games remaining to catch Erie.
Andreas Johnson Getting Set For the Playoffs
With one game remaining before Frolunda begins the postseason, Andreas Johnson is likely headed into his final games in the Swedish Hockey League. A somewhat unheralded prospect coming into the season, the 21-year old Johnson sits second on his team with 42 points in 51 games. Having recently recorded his 100th SHL point, Johnson has shown flashes this season that makes you wonder how he could have been a 7th round pick in the NHL.
With a playoff run upcoming and the possibility of being selected to Team Sweden for next month’s World Championship, it’s a good time for Johnson to show the rest of the hockey world what Leaf fans see in him.
On loan to Frolunda, it is seeming more and more certain that Johnson is destined to be a part of the Marlies next season and if he keeps growing at the exponential rate we’ve seen since being drafted, it’s not out of the realm of possibilities that we see him with the Leafs at some point next season.
— SHL Prospect GIFS (@SHLProspectGIFS) March 3, 2016
Around The CHL
- Having been out of the lineup for a few games in the middle of February, Jeremy Bracco is back with five points in his last three games. Kitchener is playing .500 hockey recently and will be looking to get back into form if they have nay chance of making any sort of impact in the OHLs western Conference playoffs.
- After dazzling everyone in the World Juniors, Dmytro Timashov has cooled off significantly as of late. He has only 5 points over his last ten games as his first place Shawinigan has hit a bit of a lull after clinching first place in the division.
- In the WHL, Andrew Nielsen has continued to put up surprising offensive numbers as the big blueliner has contributed at a point per game pace through January and February. With first place in the division clinched, Lethbridge is just playing out the string in preparation for a grueling WHL playoff run.
The NCAA Season Is Nearing An End
- As a senior, Tony Cameranesi is nearing the end of his NCAA career. He’ll look to go out on a high note as he and fellow Leafs prospect Dominic Toninato lead the University of Minnesota-Duluth team into the playoffs. The Bulldogs begin the NCHC postseason next Friday against the Miami University Redhawks.