Toronto Maple Leafs prospect roundup: Young Marlies thriving in playoffs

Rasmus Sandin #78 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Buffalo Sabres during an NHL pre-season game at Scotiabank Arena. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Rasmus Sandin #78 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Buffalo Sabres during an NHL pre-season game at Scotiabank Arena. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Maple Leafs
Anthony Cirelli #71 of the Tampa Bay Lightning takes a faceoff against John Tavares #91 of the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on March 11, 2019 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /


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Rasmus Sandin, Defence

What an incredible campaign Sandin has had with the Marlies.

After being taken 29th overall in last June’s draft, he immediately made the jump to pro hockey in North America. He forgot the part about being a rookie who needed seasoning and just decided to become one of the Marlies best blue-liners as an 18-year-old.

As the youngest player currently in the AHL, he’s posted six goals and 28 points in 44 games. He set the franchise record for the longest point streak by a defenceman, getting on the scoreboard in eight straight contests. Sandin also passed Slava Voynov for the most points by an AHL defender in their 18-year-old season.

Some have suggested that the mature rearguard could be prepared for NHL action. However, the Leafs’ development strategy suggests that he’ll be with the Marlies for another year.

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Timothy Liljegren, Defence

He hasn’t quite had the same output as Sandin, but make no mistake; Liljegren has had a solid campaign.

The 19-year-old finished with three goals and 15 points in 43 games. He missed a chunk of time in the middle of the year after sustaining a high ankle sprain which forced him to miss the World Juniors.

Since returning, he’s gotten regular reps alongside Sandin in the Marlies’ top four. There’s a chance that he could make the jump to the NHL next season, but he’s still just 19 and more seasoning in the AHL couldn’t hurt – especially with each of his first two pro campaigns, and his draft year, being slightly derailed by injuries and illness.

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Jeremy Bracco, Right Wing

Just a year ago, Bracco was entering his first pro season and was left out of the Marlies’ lineup for 26 games. Now, he’s a top-five scorer in the AHL.

Bracco has been nothing short of the team’s Most Valuable Player this year. The team desperately needed a top offensive weapon after Andreas Johnsson and Trevor Moore became full-time NHLers, and the 22-year-old has been exactly that.

With 22 goals and 79 points in 75 games, he set team records for both points and assists in a single season – both were previously held by defenceman T.J. Brennan.

The timing is perfect for Bracco as the Leafs should have an opening in the lineup with Tyler Ennis becoming a free agent this summer. With his incredible edge work, offensive ability, and passing touch, the sky’s the limit.

He’s already put his stamp on the playoffs, scoring a beautiful toe drag winner in overtime of Game 2 to give the Marlies a two-goal advantage.

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Adam Brooks, Centre

Brooks managed to make it into more games than Bracco last year but was still used in under 60 games by the team. He also was badly snakebitten and only managed eight goals on the campaign.

This year has been a different story. He’s posted 21 goals and 40 points but only appeared in 61 contests due to some injury troubles in the opening months of the season.

Brooks served as the second line centre between Michael Carcone and Mason Marchment in Game 1 of the Marlies’ first-round series against the Rochester Americans. He’ll be relied on heavily by Keefe to bring some solid two-way play to the table in the postseason.

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Pierre Engvall, Left Wing

Engvall came over from Sweden at the conclusion of last year and was able to be a part of the Marlies’ Calder Cup run.

In his first full season in North America, the rangy winger has done everything, including taking shift down the middle.

In 70 games, Engvall posted 19 goals and 32 points. Marlies head coach Sheldon Keefe also tried him out at centre, something he had done sparingly at best in the past.

With his ability to kill penalties, surprisingly smooth skating stride, and ability to transition from zone to zone, he could be a very intriguing player to look at as the Leafs’ fourth-line centre next year.

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Eemeli Rasanen, Defence

It’s been a tough season for Rasanen. He suffered an injury back in October and played in under 15 games for Jokerit in the KHL this year. He was loaned to Kiekko-Vantaa, a Finnish second-tier side, in the middle of the campaign for conditioning.

He’s looking to finish on a high note with the Marlies. The defender signed a professional tryout contract with the team and has been playing games down the stretch.

Rasanen got his first professional point in North America last Sunday after his point shot was tipped home by Hudson Elynuik.

The Leafs will be hoping he returns to form and begins to turn into a special player. He’s a right-handed shot, which makes him an important commodity in the organization going forward, given the number of lefties.

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Ryan McGregor, Centre

The Marlies signed the former Sarnia Sting captain to an amateur tryout contract once his OHL season came to an end.

He hasn’t recorded a point as of yet through four games, but he did manage to put up 25 goals and 77 points in 61 games with the Sting this year. The 2017 sixth-round pick has a chance to prove himself with the Marlies as they head into a big opening playoff matchup against the Rochester Americans.