Toronto Maple Leafs: What Were the Prospects Up to in October

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Jun 26, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; Mitchell Marner puts on a team jersey after being selected as the number four overall pick to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Prospects at the Junior Level

There are many prospects at the junior level who have been impressive to start, especially those in the 2015 draft. While success at junior hockey is not going to dictate how a player will play at the NHL level, there should be reasons why fans should feel excited about these prospects.

Let us start with Mitch Marner who is the Leafs top rated prospect at the junior level. He got off to a slow start this season with the London Knights but it looks like that was short-lived. In 13 games he has 9 goals and 12 assists for 21 points in 13 games. After posting 126 points in 63 games last season, look for Marner to try to win the OHL scoring title after losing it to Dylan Strome last season.

It will be a tough go with Alex DeBrincat from the Erie Otters looking to make an impact towards his draft stock. The Knights currently have three players in the top 10 scoring race. Christian Dvorak with 22 points in 13 games, Nylander with 21 and JJ Piccinich with 20 points in 13 games.

Piccinich was selected in the fourth round of the 2014 draft and made the move from the NCAA to the Knights in the OHL. He will be a player to watch, especially if he plays for the U.S. at the World Juniors.

Another prospect that recently made the jump from the NCAA to the OHL was Jeremy Bracco, a second-round pick by the Leafs in the 2015 draft. He started his season at Boston College, but after five games he packed his bags and went to the Kitchener Rangers. In three games Bracco has six points including two points in his debut with the Rangers. His move created a buzz because he believes that his development will improve there instead of in the NCAA.

Sep 21, 2015; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators defenseman Fredrik Claesson (49) takes the puck away from Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Dmytro Timashov (86) in the first period at Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

In the QMJHL the Leafs have two prospects who are putting up impressive offensive numbers; Dmytro Timashov and Martins Dzierkals.

Timashov could end up being one of those players that when you look at the draft many will wonder why he fell to the fifth-round. In 16 games with the Quebec Remparts he has 28 points, last season he had 90 points in 66 games. That was good enough to earn him Rookie of the Year in 2014-15 as he led all rookies in points and assists last season. He has great puck handling, explosiveness, and creativity, which makes it no surprise why the Leafs took the time to select it.

Dzierkals, like Timashov, is off to a good start in the Quebec league with 26 points in 16 games. Selected in the third-round, he made the move from Latvia, which seems to be paying off so far.

In the WHL Andrew Nielsen who was selected in the third round 65th overall is continuing to work on his offensive game. He is a big, tough defenceman that could be very useful for the Leafs moving forward because they do not have a lot of big strong defencemen, he just needs to work on being a contributor at both ends of the ice. So far he has done that with the Lethbridge Hurricanes scoring six goals, and adding 11 assists to give him 17 points in 15 games. He currently sits third in points by a defenceman in the WHL and is among the leader in penalty minutes.

Sep 22, 2015; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Andrew Nielsen (58) plays the puck against Montreal Canadiens center Christian Thomas (20) during the second period at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

He should be a fan favourite in Toronto when he makes his way to the team because of his physical play.

In Europe the one prospect that continues to impress has been forward Andreas Johnson from the Swedish Elite League. Like Nylander, the Leafs feel that Johnson would benefit from playing with older players in Europe before making his way to North America. The seventh-round pick from 2013 has been known as a speedy winger with great vision and stickhandling.

In his first season with Frölunda HC in 2013-14 he had 24 points in 44 games, in 2014-15 he had 22 goals, 35 points in 55 games. This season he has been off to a great start with 15 points in 16 games. His best performance came in the European Championship tournament last year with 25 points in 12 games and this year he had six points in four tournament games. Hopefully the Leafs will see Johnson make his way to the AHL or the big club soon because it looks like he could have been a steal from that draft.

Next: Mike Babcock to Lead Canada in the World Cup of Hockey

It is still early to determine how these prospects will play throughout the season, but from the looks of it Leafs fans should be proud of how well the prospects have started this season.