Toronto Maple Leafs – Viktor Loov – (D)
Sep 24, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Viktor Loov (65) tries to control the puck against Ottawa Senators forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau (44) during the first period at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
22 years old – 6’2″ – 195 pounds
Drafted: Round 7, 209th overall, 2012
Viktor Loov (pronounced “love”) is a consistent two way defenceman, who likes to play the body and chip in offensively when possible. Having played in Sweden all his life, this is his rookie season with the Marlies, where he has 10 points in 34 games with 12 PIM and a +3 rating.
Loov is a good passer who makes up for average speed with strong agility and plays a solid defensive game. Against the San Antonio Rampage last week he was the best defenceman on the ice for the Marlies, and the only one capable of rushing the puck and making strong outlet passes.
He’s a left-handed shot and currently sits behind Dion Phaneuf, Jake Gardiner, Morgan Rielly and Stuart Percy on the left defenceman depth chart. That being said, the right side depth chart is currently Cody Franson (UFA), Roman Polak, Stephane Robidas (healthy scratch and getting older) and Korbinian Holzer (26-year-old with 40 games played).
Even if the Leafs manage to resign Franson, Robidas looks like a buyout or a contract you try to bury or trade, meaning the opening is on the right. Unless you move Phaneuf back to the right, in which case your top left defenceman is now Gardiner. I’ll let that sink in.
The Leafs defence has been atrocious for years, not that it’s been aided by the play of the forwards. Eventually the plethora of Marlies defenders are going to get a shot and right now after Percy, Loov looks like he’ll get the call.
Whether Loov is a call-up this year or next, you can expect him to get some games as an injury fill-in. Last year as a rookie, Percy had 25 points in 71 games, or .352 points per game.
Loov is averaging .294 points per contest, which would average out to 21 in 71 games. Percy looked solid early on for the Leafs this year and clearly is still the next long-term prospect expected to break through, but Loov is right there with him, albeit slightly older and with less AHL experience.