Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman prospect Topi Niemela playing with the Toronto Marlies of the AHL
Photo credit: Dobber Prospects

Toronto Maple Leafs Hint At Possible Call Up For Top Defenseman Prospect

Published March 16, 2024 at 4:46 PM

The Toronto Maple Leafs have had a problem with a lack of depth on the right side of their defense this season. Now the team could be looking to improve from within.

Leafs Scratch Top Defenseman Prospect

Marlies defenseman Topi Niemela has had quite a good rookie season in the AHL this year. However, the team healthy scratched him today for seemingly no reason. The 21-year-old has cooled off offensively as of late, but he's still had a solid two-way presence in his games.

Topi Niemela has played in 54 of the #Marlies 56 games this season, but isn't in the lineup this afternoon against Rochester.

Appears he's a healthy scratch.

Leafs Right Handed Defenseman Prospect Ready For NHL Callup?

Niemela was drafted in the 3rd round by the Leafs back in 2020. Since then he has developed quite well, adding a lot of offense to his game. Furthermore, he already has over 200 games of professional experience, split between the Finnish Liiga and the AHL.

Topi Niemela jumps up into the play and buries his 6th of the season. His 4th game in a row with a goal.
With the assist Alex Steeves extends his point streak to 16 games

A primary assist for Topi Niemela (No. 47) on Saturday against Laval. Quietly putting together a very solid rookie campaign in the AHL.

Totals (AHL): 47 GP, 6 G, 28 PTS

The 6'0" blueliner has also been responsible in his own end, breaking up plays and saving goals on a regular basis, proving that he is not just an offense-first player.

Dennis Hildeby makes the initial save and Topi Niemela with the nice hand-eye clears the puck from the #Marlies crease.

Perhaps more importantly, he is right handed. The Leafs are in desperate need for right-handed blueliners with offense in their game. This healthy scratch could be an indication that the team is interested in calling him up. That being said, the team does have a bit of a logjam on defense right now with Simon Benoit being a regular scratch in favor of Connor Timmins. We will just have to see what the team does next, but Niemela has done his part to earn his first career NHL callup.

As seen on Leafs organization sending top defensive prospect a message with healthy scratch
March 16   |   404 answers
Toronto Maple Leafs Hint At Possible Call Up For Top Defenseman Prospect

Do you think Niemela deserves an NHL callup?

Yes31177 %
No9323 %
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