♫ It’s the most, wonderful time, of the year! ♫ Okay, obviously, it’s not the ideal place to be here, I’d much rather be writing about the Leafs crushing Columbus, but here we are. This particular postseason is significant for well-discussed reasons. The Leafs’ cap crunch makes it crucial for this team to add depth to their organization. So what have they done so far?


The Big Names

It’s about two months before July 1st, so we won’t see any NHL signings here obviously. What we will see are European, College and Junior signings. Here are the biggest ones of the bunch.

Yegor Aleyev/Getty Images North America

Ilya Mikheyev

Age: 24
Position: RW
Last Team: Avangard Omsk (KHL) (23-22-45, 62 games)
Pro Stats (Career): KHL: 62-60-122, 224 games MHL: 7-11-18, 52 games

Mikheyev is one of the bigger name signings of the entire free agent pool at the moment. This guy is destined to be a Babcock favourite. The 24-year-old with a late birthday isn’t being signed to be a long-term prospect.

He’s a younger player that needs to make a difference to the Toronto Maple Leafs as soon as possible. At 6’2 as a winger, he’s almost exactly what Babcock had in mind. To add on to that, the Magician Datsyuk reportedly had a crucial role in Mikheyev picking Toronto.

His offensive numbers show potential and although he won’t be Artemi Panarin, he projects to be a good depth addition and will almost certainly begin his North American career in the NHL.

Heikki Saukkomaa/The Associated Press

Teemu Kivihalme

Age: 23
Position: LD
Last Team: Karpat (Liiga) (9-21-40, 60 games)
Pro Stats (Career): Liiga: 13-37-50, 104 games

Teemu Kivihalme is another coveted European free agent, but it seems he’s a bit less well-known compared to Ilya Mikheyev. The six-foot defensemen is a signing I’d compare more to the signings of Borgman and Rosen. He’s a young offensive defensemen who’s going to get time with the AHL’s Marlies.

He has the potential to become a pretty good offensive defensemen. Kivihalme turns 24 soon, but coming out of the top Finnish league after a solid NCAA career, he’s a guy that comes in knowing that he’s not going to be an NHL’er right away. Kivihalme, a Finnish-American, is a guy we’ll likely see quite a bit of when he is ready to play for the Marlies and strengthen their blue-line with Liljegren and Sandin.

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images North America

Yegor Korshkov

Age: 22
Position: RW
Last Team: Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (KHL) (3-2-5, 19 games)
Pro Stats (Career): KHL: 24-41-65, 172 games MHL: 27-29-56, 72 games Kazakhstan:

Yegor Korshkov is a pretty well-known name around these parts. The somewhat mysterious prospect was a surprise pick at 31st overall in the Auston Matthews draft, ahead of current young star Alex DeBrincat of the Chicago Blackhawks. Needless to say, Korshkov has something to prove.

At 6’4, he’s another player that Babcock had in mind when he said he’d like more big bodies up front. He had an underwhelming KHL season due to injury, but he looks to rediscover his offensive touch on a professional tryout contract with the Marlies during their playoff run. With a goal in his first game played, he definitely shows some promise. His entry-level deal means that he’s ready to develop for maybe a season in the AHL before he gets a taste of the NHL.

Terry Wilson/OHL Images

Justin Brazeau

Age: 21
Position: RW
Last Team: North Bay Battalion (OHL) (61-52-113, 68 games)
Pro Stats (Career): N/A

Brazeau happens to be one of the biggest (literally and figuratively) players signed out of the OHL this season. With an outstanding 61 goals and 113 points as the captain of the Battalion, the 6’6 forward looks to try continuing his offense in the AHL. He signed a two-year deal, but what’s notable is that this deal is NOT an NHL deal.

In this case, the Marlies used their financial leverage to pay Brazeau more than he would get if he stuck around in the AHL after signing with the Leafs. He still gets the benefits of an entry-level contract if he signs an NHL contract, so it’s a bit of a win-win.

Brazeau comes in as a project player and it would be amazing if he could continue developing in Toronto so that his season isn’t just a result of an adult picking on kids. Until he gets an entry-level contract, he’s a Toronto Marlie for at least two more seasons.

Joseph Duszak

Age: 21
Position: RD
Last Team: Mercyhurst University (NCAA) (16-31-47, 37 games)
Pro Stats (Career): N/A

Joseph Duszak is another example of a big name signing. A coveted free agent coming out of the NCAA, the right-handed defensemen comes as a point producing defensemen who apparently needs some work in his own end. Duszak will be a good prospect in the organization who will spend at least a season with the Marlies.

The hope is that he blossoms as a good two-way defensemen and at RD, he’s at a valued spot for Toronto. Duszak is a project to watch for many reasons, but the main one being that his position makes him a guy the Maple Leafs could desperately use down the line.


The Prospects

A lot of the guys here are guys the Maple Leafs have already drafted, but were only recently given entry-level contracts from Toronto. So I decided to put most in a separate category.

Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images North America

Joseph Woll

Age: 20
Position: G
Last Team: Boston College (NCAA) (13-21-3, .919 SV%, 37 games)
Pro Stats (Career): N/A

Joseph Woll was drafted and immediately became one of the brightest faces in terms of the Leafs’ goaltending. This season, it’s changed a bit. Ian Scott has suddenly emerged as an outstanding WHL goalie.

With the two both beginning their pro careers next season, the two might have to battle a bit for the Marlies starting job and I wouldn’t be shocked if one had to get more time with the Growlers in St. John’s. A subpar season in front of him at Boston College made it a bit more difficult, but the Junior kept up his stats and held up rather well. Goalies are voodoo, so quite honestly, I don’t know what to expect, but he’ll be a delight to watch.

Terry Wilson/OHL Images

Mac Hollowell

Age: 20
Position: RD
Last Team: Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL) (24-53-77, 64 games)
Pro Stats (Career): N/A

Mac Hollowell was picked as an overager in the fourth round last season. He’s done fantastic in his last season in Junior and recorded 77 points in 64 games. The RD impressed enough to earn an entry-level contract during the season and has joined the Marlies for their playoff run where he has a point in six games played.

Sheldon Keefe and the Marlies obviously have a ton of faith in him to put him in for six of their seven playoff games thus far. We’ll likely see a lot of him next season and hopefully he adjusts to the AHL fairly well.

Ron Jenkins/Getty Images North America

Zachary Bouthillier

Age: 19
Position: G
Last Team: Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL) (11-17-3, .886 SV%, 40 games)
Pro Stats (Career): N/A

Bouthillier is probably a surprise to see here, but he’s a prospect and the Newfoundland Growlers have him on a contract while the Marlies have him on an amateur tryout contract. Bouthillier was taken in the seventh round last year as what I’ll call a roll of the dice. He showed promise in the Q last season, but this season he might have played himself out of an overage spot.

He massively struggled in Chicoutimi, but did even worse after a trade to the Ice Dogs. It’s become pretty likely that Bouthillier has to stick around with the Growlers next season. Bouthillier is still young and has potential, but he isn’t going to be an NHL’er and this pick becomes a win if he makes the AHL. Like I said before, goalies are voodoo, so there’s always a chance that I’m making a fool out of myself here.


The Names to Watch

Obviously, not everyone on this list comes in as a big name. These guys need to work their way up the organization, but they’re still good prospects.

Colt Conrad

Age: 22
Position: C
Last Team: Western Michigan University (NCAA) (11-27-38, 37 games)
Pro Stats (Career): N/A

Colt Conrad is almost too good to not be considered as a bigger name. The 22-year-old had a stellar season in the NCAA with 38 points recorded in 37 games played. He even appeared in the Spengler Cup this year where Team Canada made it to the finals.

He had an assist in his lone appearance. With two goals in seven games with the Marlies, he’s impressed even at the pro level. His lone playoff appearance means that he’s already gained enough trust to earn a small spot on the playoff roster.

Conrad is under contract for two more years and that’s at the AHL level. He has the potential to maybe even blossom as an NHL’er, but at the moment, I think the near future provides a good AHL player.

Nick Wosika/Getty Images North America

Trey Bradley

Age: 23
Position: LW
Last Team: Colorado College (NCAA) (15-19-34, 41 games)
Pro Stats (Career): N/A

Trey Bradley is more of a question mark on this post. He’s less proven and his point total wasn’t spectacular in the NCAA, but he’s a solid player. 34 points in 41 games in Colorado impressed the Marlies enough to give him an ATO this season and a contract next season as well.

He got sent home early this season, even after an assist in two games with the Marlies. We’ll see him back next season and he can be part of the next wave of young, talented Growlers, or maybe even compete for a starting spot on the Marlies.


What’s Next?

There are a few more question marks still left to go. Alex Basso and Erik Brown were brought in as ATO’s with the Marlies, but were released. Their future in Toronto/Newfoundland is uncertain, but they’re two talented players that we might see as the next wave of Growlers.

We’ll see more junior free agents come around, that is almost certain. I’m going to get to the three prospects we need signed as soon as possible soon enough, but Ryan McGregor, Fedor Gordeev and Dakota Joshua all need contracts with Toronto. That’s not even including the whole Marner/Kapanen/Johnsson fiasco, but we’ll get to that as it happens because I’m not going to make any offer sheet predictions.


Anyways, I hope you enjoyed my first post here at The Puck Authority! If you’re a Leafs fan, you’ll continuously see posts about the entire organization here. Remember to keep an eye out for these new guys, whether it’s in Toronto or in St. John’s.

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