Toronto Maple Leafs: Five prospects to watch with the Toronto Marlies

WINDSOR, ON - MAY 28: Forward Jeremy Bracco
WINDSOR, ON - MAY 28: Forward Jeremy Bracco /
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Andrew Nielsen

Already with a year under his belt, the Marlies will likely lean on Nielsen to take the step in his development. With Travis Dermott expected to make the jump to the NHL with a spot open on the third pairing, the 20-year old will have a big opportunity to showcase himself for a future opportunity with the Leafs. He had a five game audition with the Marlies after his final season with the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the WHL where he had 70 points in 71 regular season games.

In his first full season in the AHL, Nielsen put up great offensive numbers with 14 goals, 25 assists for 39 points in 74 games. In the playoffs, Nielsen stepped up his game defensively and head coach Sheldon Keefe pointed out that there is still room for the Red Deer Alta., native to grow. Part of it will be working on his skating and the other will be being more physical. Our own Jake Middleton had Nielsen ranked eighth on his top-10 prospect ranking.

“In the Western league you could get away with being a little more passive and use the stick more,” said Nielsen, to the media back in May. “I kind of had to break those habits. It took longer than I would have liked.”

Nielsen does have time on his side to make the necessary improvements to his development with the Leafs defence set for this season. He will have some competition for minutes with the Marlies if Andreas Borgman, Calle Rosen and Timothy Liljegren get sent down to the Marlies (in Liljegren’s case, whether he goes back to Sweden). Nielsen will definitely be a player to watch  with the Marlies this season especially if he can continue to make the improvements on defence.