Maple Leafs Top Prospect Models His Game After Erik Karlsson

Tyler Ball
September 14, 2023  (6:55 PM)

Erik Karlsson is one of the most elite defensemen in the NHL currently. The reigning Norris Trophy winner is one of the best offensive presences on the blue line in the entire league.

An award-winning defenseman like Karlsson will likely always have players who want to emulate what he does. One Toronto Maple Leaf prospect confirmed he hopes to do many things that Karlsson does during his NHL career.

Niemela Hoping To Be Like Karlsson

Topi Niemela is one of the best defensive prospects in the Toronto Maple Leafs' system currently. He really showed off what he can do in his playoff stint in the AHL with the Toronto Marlies. He was able to accumulate 5 points in 7 games.
In a recent interview, Niemela said that Karlsson is his favorite player in the NHL. He tries to copy what Karlsson does. He also knows the climb to be as good as Karlsson is an incredibly steep one.
Leafs' top D prospect Topi Niemela watches a lot of Erik Karlsson video

"He's my favourite player. I try to copy what he do. Of course it's hard because he's maybe best defenceman in the world, but I try to learn how he's doing his things"

While Niemela is not currently close to the heights that Karlsson has reached this year could be a big one for his development. He will be playing in the AHL for the first time on a full-time basis and be able to get used to the grind of playing in North American professional hockey.

Development Path For Niemela


As previously stated 2023-24 could be a big year to take a jump for Niemela. During his time in Finland Niemela was used as more of a two-way defenseman and asked to focus more on defense. With the Marlies, he was able to play more freely and aggressively. This really unlocked the skill that Niemela had shown flashes of.
If the Marlies can continue to allow Niemela to take chances and risks offensively his game could blossom nicely. Now of course Niemela needs to work on his defense still. He is an okay but not excellent defender at the moment. If he can find a good middle ground between all-out offense and playing too conservative his chances at improving would increase dramatically.
His first opportunity to show his improvement from last season will come this weekend. He will be playing in the Traverse City Prospects Tournament with the Maple Leafs. A good performance at this tournament could catapult him into a great regular season.
Maple Leafs Top Prospect Models His Game After Erik Karlsson

Will Topi Niemela play a game with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2023-24?

Yes43567.4 %
No21032.6 %
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