Top Three Maple Leafs Prospects Revealed

Tyler Ball
August 18, 2023  (2:28 PM)

The NHL offseason opens up time to discuss more than just the game from the night before or the current roster. One of the favorite offseason topics of many fans and news outlets is prospect pools. Recently Nick Barden jumped in on the fun and ranked his top-10 NHL-ready Leafs prospects. The top three prospects are some very interesting players and should give fans hope for the future.

Barden's Rankings

Nick Barden of The Hockey News published his top 10 NHL-ready Leafs prospects in a recent article. To qualify for this list players cannot have played an NHL game yet. This list is also based on NHL readiness and not peak potential so keep that in mind as well. We will be taking a look at the top 3 that were recently announced and their place in the Leafs organizational depth chart.

Fraser Minten Comes In At 3


Fraser Minten kicks off the top 3 for Leafs' prospects. Minten is a 2022 second-round pick. He has spent his time since being drafted in the WHL. In his most recent season with the Kamloops Blazers Minten tallied 31 goals, 36 assists for a grand total of 67 points in 57 games. This is an impressive jump for Minten who was below a point per game pace during his draft year in 2022.
Minten recently commented on where he has felt the biggest increase in his development over the last year.
"We played a lot of hockey this year so there wasn't much gym time," Minten said at Maple Leafs development camp earlier this summer.
"But I think with being on the ice so much, you get more comfortable skating, you just improve your skills, get more comfortable with little battles. So, I think I got better at just a bit of everything."
These comments should instill a lot of confidence that Minten will have yet another big jump when returning to the WHL for his fourth season. He will likely attend Maple Leafs camp before then but the best spot for him is back in the WHL for one last season.

Hirvonen Takes Second


Roni Hirvonen comes in second on Barden's rankings. Hirvonen spent last season playing in LIIGA the Finnish men's league. He played 57 total games and put up 28 points. The 21-year-old center recently announced he would be coming over to North America. He will likely play in the AHL with the Marlies unless he makes an unexpected push in training camp with the Leafs.
Hirvonen's game relies on his hockey IQ and sturdy frame. He excels in board battles and has shown a good affinity for scoring goals when playing in Finland. Hirvonen is likely still a year or two away but with a good start in the AHL could see some time with the main roster.
When asked about coming to North America during Leafs development camp earlier this summer Hirvonen had this to say:
"I feel that I'm more ready to come here now," he said at Maple Leafs development camp earlier this summer.

Topi Niemela Leafs Top Rated Prospect


Finally, we have made it to number one where we see Topi Niemela.
Niemela was a 2020 third-round selection who has been outplaying his draft slot ever since. In 58 games in LIIGA last season Niemela ended up with 18 total points. He then signed on with the Marlies for the end of the regular season and posted 2 points in 6 regular season games. During their 7 game playoff run is where
Niemela really shined having 5 points. He is a mobile and smooth right-handed defenseman. Despite his smaller stature at only 5'11" Niemela plays a good physical game and is very well-rounded.
While there is a lot to like about Niemela he knows there are still things to improve before he will be a successful player in North America:
"I need to be more physical and stronger and defence better, I think so," he said at Maple Leafs development camp.

One of the biggest questions with Niemela when playing in Finland was about his offensive tools not translating to points. In his small sample size in the AHL, he showed that his skills can translate to points and lots of them.

Now as is the case for a lot of young players transitioning to the AHL Niemela will have to focus on strength, conditioning, and defensive play. If Niemela can catch on quickly he could see himself in a Maple Leafs jersey before long.
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Top Three Maple Leafs Prospects Revealed

Who is the Leafs top NHL Ready Prospect

Topi Niemela33843.1 %
Fraser Minten26433.7 %
Roni Hirvonen18223.2 %
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