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Leafs Top 10 Prospects
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Leafs Prospects - Toronto Hockey

01 Anton Stralman
Originally drafted in the 7th round - 216th overall in the 2005 entry draft, Anton made huge strides last year, and appears to be another late round gem for the Maple Leafs. Anton played 25 minutes plus in the Sweedish Elite League and has been compared to Nik Lidstrom. Comparisons like those can be a little difficult to live up to. I'm sure Leaf fans would be happy if the youngster turned into another Tomas Kaberle. Like Kaberle, Stralman has been described as smooth skating, and also been praised for his decision making ability and all-around skill level. Sounds like Leaf fans have something to look forward to.

02 Justin Pogge
The Maple Leafs first pick in the 2004 entry, drafted in the 3rd round, 90th overall. Pogge has made some impressive strides since being drafted. Pogge became a household name in December 2005 when he led the World Junior Canadian team to a surprising gold medal defense of their 2006 championship. Justin earned Most Valuable Player honors for the tournament. Pogge has also represented Canada at the 2006 Spengler Cup tournament in Davos, Switzerland. He took Canada to the finals where they lost to HC Davos in the finals. Pogge seemed poised to quickly inherit the Leafs number one position, but suffered somewhat of a rocky start in his professional debut. As the AHL season progressed Pogge found himself playing more and playing better. This year will be a pivotal year in Pogge's development, but the young netminder seems to possess the necessary attitude and skills, that will see him between the Leaf pipes before long.

03 Nikolai Kulemin
The big Left Winger was drafted in the 2nd round, 44th overall, in the 2006 entry draft. Kulemin virtually came out of nowhere to be named the Russian Super League's Rookie of the Year. Nikolai has been improving at an incredibly fast rate. Long been overshadowed by Evgeni Malkin, Kulemin is finally starting to get noticed. The young Russian owns many of the skills you want in a top prospect. A strong skater with a above average top speed, a hard and accurate shot, plus he also drives hard towards the net and plays with a lot of intensity. While Nikolai still must prove he can do it at the next level, the huge strides he's made this year have many experts predicting big things for the Metallurg product.

04 Jiri Tlustly
One the the few Maple Leaf first round picks that has managed to stick with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Big things are expected from Tlusty, the former 13th overall pick. Jiri had a tough season this year, adjusting to North America, but still remains a top prospect. A combination of injuries and adjusting to a new culture affected Jiri's regular season, but Tlusty bounced back with a strong playoff performance. Tlusty led the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds with 17pts in only 13 playoff games.

Tlusty will most likely be headed to the Toronto Marlies of the AHL this season to develop his game further. The former World Junior Captain is a well-rounded player who hits, makes plays, and scores goals. Jiri also sees the ice well and contributes defensively. This well rounded skill set makes Tlusty a safe bet to be a key contributor for the Buds in the not to distant future. The only question will be how high his offensive potential is. Some Toronto scouts believe he'll be a ppg producer, while others, like Toronto Hockey, tend to think he'll top out in the 60-70 point range.

05 Staffan Kronwall
Drafted in the ninth round, Kronwall is the younger brother of former Detroit first-rounder Niklas Kronwall. Kronwall's great size is his most obvious asset, but he's also very mobile for a big man. Known mostly as a defensive defenseman, he has the ability to move the puck well. Kronwall is close to being ready for NHL duty and has signed a one-way contract with the Leafs this season. Expect Kronwall to see some action for the Leafs, playing mostly in the bottom paring. If injuries affect the Leafs defense, Kronwall could step in and see an increase in ice-time, and become a regular.

06 Robbie Earl
The former Wisconsin Badger star was selected in the 6th round, 167th overall in the 2004 entry draft. Earl's best asset is his explosive speed. He plays with intensity and will get involved in the physical aspects of the game. Robbie needs to bulk up a little to handle the physical aspect of the pro-game but his tremendous speed should launch him into an NHL career. Robbie will most likely play another season with the Marlies before being able to make the jump to the main club.

07 Jeremy Williams
Williams was eligible for the 2002 draft but went undrafted. He responded with a team leading 93 point season for the Swift Current Broncos. Jeremy is a gifted offensive player but must improve his strength and skating before he'll be able to make the jump to the big club. Williams has improved his acceleration the last couple years and continued improvement will eventually earn him a spot on the Leafs.

08 Dale Mitchell
The Maple Leafs first pick in the 3rd round of the 2007 draft. Mitchell is a stocky player with deceptive speed for a player of his build. The little fireplug uses his low center of gravity well and is hard to knock off the puck. Dale tallied 80 points on 43 goals in 67 games for the Oshawa Generals this past season, suggesting he knows how to find the back of the net. Dale will be given plenty of time to develop into an NHL player and his style could turn him into a fan favorite when he does graduate.

09 Dmitri Vorobiev
Vorobiev skills don't standout in any one area but he also doesn't appear to have any glaring weaknesses. Dmitri is a solid 210lbs and skates well for a man his size. There are some doubts as to whether Voorobiev will make the trip to North America, instead he might opt to play out the string in the comfort of his native land Russia. If he does make the journey over Vorobiev will most likely be a bottom pairing defenseman.

10Tyler Ruegsegger
Ruegsegger was drafted in 6th round 166th overall in the 2006 entry draft. Tyler is an very competitive player. Strong at both ends of the ice and can score consistently. There are concerns over his skating, which is below average. His skating must be improved if he is to make it to the next level. This is where the Maple Leaf prospect list starts to show it's true colors. It's difficult to consistently find gems in the late rounds. The Leafs are fortunate to have found as many late round gems as they have.

Here's an excellent article from NHL.com about some of the Leafs prospects: Maple Leafs' prospects will make noise in camp

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