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31 in 31

Top prospects for Toronto Maple Leafs

Dermott should get chance on second defense pair; Johnsson might see time with Kapanen, Kadri

by Mike Zeisberger @Zeisberger / Staff Writer is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, the top five prospects for the Toronto Maple Leafs, according to


[Maple Leafs 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Fantasy breakdown | Behind the Numbers]


1. Travis Dermott, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 34 pick in 2015 NHL Draft

Last season: Toronto: 37 GP, 1-12-13; Toronto (AHL): 28 GP, 2-16-18

Dermott is expected to carry on his progression from last season after he was called up to the Maple Leafs in January. The confidence in the 21-year-old grew as he became more comfortable with carrying the puck, which is his strength.

Dermott (6-foot, 208 pounds) was playing regular NHL minutes toward the end of the season and should get a shot on the Maple Leafs' second pair. He has a comfort level with new general manager Kyle Dubas, who ran Toronto's American Hockey League affiliate until being promoted May 11.

"That guy's been great to me the whole time I've been with the Leafs organization," Dermott said. "I'm used to having him around. He's an easy guy to talk to."

Projected NHL arrival: This season

Video: TOR@BOS, Gm7: Dermott buries one through traffic


2. Andreas Johnsson, F 

How acquired: Selected with No. 202 pick in 2013 NHL Draft

Last season: Toronto: 9 GP: 2-1-3; Toronto (AHL): 54 GP, 26-28-54

Johnsson (5-10, 180) was named MVP of the Calder Cup Playoffs with 24 points (10 goals, 14 assists) in 16 games for the champion Marlies.

"He's a special, special kid," Marlies coach Sheldon Keefe said. "He's taken the long road to get here. It doesn't matter where you get drafted."

The 23-year-old accepted his qualifying offer, a one-year, two-way contract worth $787,500, on July 13. Coach Mike Babcock was impressed with the speed Johnsson showed in nine games with the Maple Leafs last season and has tentatively penciled him to play on the third line with Kasperi Kapanen and Nazem Kadri.

Projected NHL arrival: This season


3. Timothy Liljegren, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 17 pick in 2017 NHL Draft

Last season: Toronto (AHL); 44 GP, 1-16-17

Liljegren (6-foot, 190) at one time was projected as high as the No. 2 prospect for the 2017 NHL Draft, but a bout with mononucleosis during his draft year caused him to fall. The 19-year-old was among the youngest players in the AHL last season and learned to take advantage his stick-handling skills as the season progressed. Another year of development would appear to be the logical career path for him, although a strong training camp might change some opinions.

"The only thing that he needs to keep working on is just getting bigger and stronger," Dermott said. "His head for the game could play in the NHL, for sure. He really understands the game and understands that, despite not being the biggest guy, he's learning ways to defend more efficiently, which is big."

Projected NHL arrival: Next season


4. Carl Grundstrom, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 57 pick in 2016 NHL Draft

Last season: Frolunda (SHL): 35 GP, 17-7-24: Toronto (AHL): 2 GP, 1-2-3

Grundstrom (6-foot, 194) arrived from Sweden late in the season and quickly showed he was at home on the smaller North American ice surfaces. The 20-year-old had 14 points (eight goals, six assists) in 20 playoff games for the Marlies. 

"The big thing that really stood out is how competitive he was and just how strong his instincts were, especially offensively," Keefe said.

Grundstrom is strong along the boards, yet another indicator of his unique mixture of hustle and muscle.

Projected NHL arrival: Next season


5. Calle Rosen, D

How acquired: Signed as free agent May 16, 2017

Last season: Toronto: 4 GP, 0-1-1; Toronto (AHL): 62 GP, 4-18-22

Rosen (6-1, 195) arrived at training camp last September with confidence, but four games with the Maple Leafs didn't go as planned. He was sent to the AHL, where his development was impressive, especially in the defensive zone. The 24-year-old has a chance to squeeze into the Maple Leafs' third pair if he has a good camp.

"I don't know if he is stronger, but he is playing a way stronger game," Babcock said. "That's confidence, just knowing where to go and where to stand."

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

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