Predicting the Next 5 Toronto Maple Leafs Prospects to Arrive in the NHL

James OnuskoContributor IIIDecember 5, 2013

Predicting the Next 5 Toronto Maple Leafs Prospects to Arrive in the NHL

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    The Toronto Maple Leafs have had to have some of their top NHL prospects play in 2013-14.

    The team has been hit hard by injuries, particularly at the forward position. This has led to prospects like Josh Leivo and Peter Holland play a handful of games at the highest level.

    The Leafs have made a concerted effort to stock through the draft. That has begun to pay dividends with players like Morgan Rielly having a positive impact as young players.

    The Leafs boast a good stable of young defense prospects along with some forwards with both size and skill.

    We will take a look at the next five Leaf prospects who are the likeliest to play in the NHL. We will exclude Morgan Rielly from this list as it seems to be a given that he is in the NHL to stay.

    Honorable mention goes to Carter Ashton. 

5. Matt Finn, D

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    Matt Finn is a work in progress, but he seems to have the tools that could make him a good pro defenseman.

    While Finn doesn't do any one thing really well, he doesn't have any glaring weaknesses. He's an average skater, so that is one area that he will need to improve. 

    He plays a smart game and at 6'0" he is not going to be an overwhelming physical presence. He could be a very solid defenseman at the NHL level if his game matures in the next two or three seasons.

4. Frederik Gauthier, C

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    Frederik Gauthier has it all: size, skill, smarts and a mature game. The 6'5" center is not an offensive dynamo, but he can produce.

    His size makes him difficult to handle in the offensive zone, and if he can develop some additional physicality in his game, he could be a true power forward at the NHL level.

    Gauthier plays well in all three zones already. This may accelerate his move to the NHL; expect him to get a long look to make the NHL next fall. He's got 22 points in 26 games this year after posting 60 points in the QMJHL last year.

3. Stuart Percy, D

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    Stuart Percy has the makings to be a good NHL defender in another season or two. The former first-round draft pick hasn't put up great offensive numbers in the AHL, but he shows promise.

    He's not likely to be a No. 1 defender for the Leafs, but there is reason to believe he could be a top-four defenseman at the NHL level.

    Percy is mobile and has the ability to move the puck quickly out of his own zone. Those two attributes are key in today's NHL.

    Depending on what happens with other Leaf defensemen like Dion Phaneuf and Cody Franson, Percy may get his NHL shot in the next season.

     

2. Josh Leivo, F

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    Josh Leivo is a young winger who may develop into a top-six forward for the Leafs. He's got good size at 6'2" and he thinks the game well.

    He's proven himself to be a versatile forward at both the junior and the pro level. Teams can never have too many players who can fill a number of roles.

    Leivo may not be a top offensive producer at the NHL level, but as his game matures, he could be a valuable all-around player for the Leafs.

1. Peter Holland, C

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    Peter Holland has the physical tools to be a very good NHL player. The former Guelph Storm star is a good skater with above-average size.

    Holland has soft hands for a big man and he is not afraid to shoot the puck. Holland has been a good sniper at all levels, and if he can learn to think about the game even better, his assist totals should improve as well.

    The Leafs, as an organization, are not deep down the middle. The former No. 15 overall pick by the Anaheim Ducks should help fill this need for Toronto in the near future.