New blood, Lehtonen stays hot, bye bye Bracco

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The Leafs had several prospects with their seasons already underway prior to the draft, and seven of their 12 selections this week were added to that list. Perhaps it’s coincidence, or perhaps it was a calculated plan, but for the most part the Leafs managed to avoid the uncertainty surrounding the upcoming seasons for prospects in leagues such as the OHL, WHL, and USHL. For more on their newest crop of prospects, check out my breakdown of the Leafs’ 2020 draft class.

Toronto Maple Leafs 2020 NHL draft recap

We’ve all been ultra focused on the draft and who the Leafs would be adding to their prospect pool, so let’s get caught up on some guys who have been in the Leafs system for a little while longer.

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Mikko Lehtonen – LHD – Jokerit (KHL)

When we last checked in with Lehtonen, he was off to a hot start with seven points through Jokerit’s first six games. Fast forward a week and he is just getting hotter. In two games since then, the undrafted free agent signing has added another five points and is now up to six goals and six assists through just eight contests. It’s looking more and more like Lehtonen could make a real impact on the Leafs back end this coming season.

Egor Korshkov – RW – Lokomitiv Yaroslavl (KHL)

The Leafs’ second round selection from 2016 has continued his strong start to the KHL season as well, picking up two goals and three assists in the last three games. Korshkov has found a role on Lokomotiv’s first line and is making good on the opportunity with five goals and six assists through 11 games so far. His early season production bodes well for his chances of earning an NHL job when next season begins, depending on what moves the Leafs make in the coming days.

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Kristians Rubins – LHD – Frederikshavn White Hawks (Denmark)

Rubins joined the organization on an AHL contract for the 2018-2019 season and spent time in the ECHL and the AHL that season. He worked his way into a regular role with the Marlies last season, suiting up for 47 games and registering 14 points on his way to earning a two-year entry level contract with the Maple Leafs. This week, the Leafs loaned Rubins to the Frederikshavn White Hawks in Denmark in order for him to get some playing time before training camps open in North America.

The 22 year old defenceman is an imposing presence, standing 6’4″ and weighing in at 220 pounds but he has good mobility for a big man. He played big minutes at times for the Marlies last season and was a steadying force as injuries piled up throughout the organization. Rubins is purely AHL depth at this point of his career, but he has shown signs of being a late bloomer.

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Mikhail Abramov – C – Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL)

Abramov has picked up right where he left off last season when he led Victoriaville with 76 points in 63 games. Through the first two games of his QMJHL season, Abramov has tallied a goal and four assists while playing his familiar first line role. He was a bit of a lone Tigre and didn’t receive much help throughout last season but his squad is looking better with a 2-0-0 start this year and he could be primed to improve on his impressive scoring totals from 2019-2020.

Jeremy Bracco – RW – Unrestricted Free Agent

It’s fun to talk about prospects succeeding and getting closer to making an impact for the Leafs, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Jeremy Bracco. The organization decided not to tender him a qualifying offer before the deadline on Wednesday, meaning he is now an unrestricted free agent. It’s been a real fall from grace for the playmaking winger who was one of the more highly touted prospects in Toronto’s system not that long ago.

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Bracco put up a staggering 79 points in 75 AHL games as a 21 year old but his play without the puck on his stick kept him from earning even the most fleeting opportunity with the Leafs. Last season didn’t go nearly as well for him, and he may have grown frustrated watching other players surpass him on the depth chart. His production went down to just four goals and 30 assists in 44 games before he took a leave of absence for what were labeled “personal reasons.” The 2015 second round pick didn’t suit up for the Marlies again and now his Leafs tenure has come to a tumultuous end without ever having played an NHL game.

 

(Statistics from eliteprospects.com)