Toronto Maple Leafs: Prospect report at the quarter mark of the season

TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 29: Kasperi Kapanen
TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 29: Kasperi Kapanen /
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AHL Forwards

The Toronto Marlies continue to impress and are tied with the Manitoba Moose for the most points in the league although they remain on top with one game in hand.

The Marlies are 18-5-0 this season allowing only 44 goals against which is the second-least in the AHL behind the Ontario Reign who have allowed 39 goals.

They also rank seventh in goals scored with 75 while the Moose lead the league with 90 goals scored but the balanced attack of the Marlies has allowed them to be consistent throughout the season.

What makes this group so impressive is how many young players it features and how much of a prominent role they play on the roster.

Andreas Johnsoon

The 23-year-old leads the Marlies in scoring with nine goals and nine assists in 21 games, at some point Johnsson will be pushing to get some attention from the Leafs for a potential callup if there is an injury.

It took some time for the 2013 seventh round pick to recover from a concussion but he has proven to be the most consistent offensive threat on the Marlies. If he can keep this up, it would not be a surprise to see Johnsson get brought up to the NHL if not this season, next season when the Leafs have more spots open on the roster.

Kasperi Kapanen

If it were not for the contract situation with Nikita Soshnikov, Kapanen would be in the NHL right now or close to it. He has not put up dominant offensive numbers but he still has the speed and defensive awareness that had him in the Leafs lineup during the playoffs.

In 14 games with the Marlies, Kapanen has six goals and nine points while playing three games with the Leafs during their California road trip. The time will come for the 21-year-old to be a full-time NHLer but at the moment he has to be patient.

Dmytro Timashov

There has not been a lot of talk about the former fifth round picks progress the past couple of seasons. Unfortunately that’s because there was not much to talk about especially last season when Timashov had 24 points in 63 games.

Only 21-years-old it was way too early to write off the agile winger considering how dynamic he as in the QMJHL. In 23 games this season, Timashov is well on his way to improving his points total from last season as he already has 15 points.

What has been the biggest difference for Timashov is that he is not relying solely on his ability to dish the puck but using his elusiveness and great hands.

It has been pointed out that Timashov is taking more shots this season which is usually a sign of a player gaining more confidence and it showed in the overtime goal above. Timashov is showing that if he has the puck in tight space he will find a way to put it past the goalie.

This is an encouraging sign from a prospect that has not been talked about a lot lately but that is slowly changing.

Jeremy Bracco and Adam Brooks

This is the first season out of junior hockey for Bracco and Brooks and both are starting to find their way with the Marlies. Bracco just had a two assist game but the goals are still on hold but he has been known mostly as a goal scorer.

Brooks is a vital prospect for the Leafs considering their lack of depth at center. With Auston Matthews and Nazem Kadri occupying the top two spots down the middle, Brooks does not need to be a dynamic offensive player, rather a smart player at both ends of the ice.

He spoke recently about how his goal for this season was to learn from the veteran players on the team.

“There’s definitely been a learning curve,” Brooks said. “Anytime you make a jump, it’s going to be a little tough, but the coaching staff here and the older players on the team have done a great job easing me into it and it’s been a lot of fun so far.”

Keefe has been impressed with how smart the 21-year-old is structurally but wants him to put some emphasis on going to the net and get out of the pass first mode that he was used to in the WHL.

It will be interesting to see Bracco and Brooks to continue to grow and mature even if they are not always putting up the points that some may have expected.