Every month throughout the NHL season, we’ll be updating you on the development of key Maple Leafs prospects with up-to-date stats, videos, and analysis.
There’s a lot more to player development than what’s written on a score sheet, but it’s hard to ignore the results several Maple Leafs prospects have achieved early in the season.
Toronto boasts the AHL’s second leading scorer, two of the top point producers in the CHL, and the top goal-scorer in Sweden. There’s a lot to be desired in goal and on defence, but the Leafs have accumulated some crazy forward depth over the last few drafts.
Here’s a look at some of the team’s more notable performances from the month of November.
Brendan Leipsic, 22, LW
Drafted: Third round, 89th overall, 2012 (Nashville)
Season to date: 19 GP | 6 G | 17 A | 23 P | +3
Brendan Leipsic continues to pile up points for the Toronto Marlies.
After leading all players with 13 points in October, Leipsic maintained his spot near the top of the AHL leaderboard after picking up another 10 points in November. In 10 games last month, the shifty winger strung together a six-game point streak and was held off the score sheet just once.
On Toronto side, Brendan Leipsic was electric. For me it's a matter of time now before he's in the top level for good.
— (((Corey Pronman))) (@coreypronman) November 26, 2016
As has been the norm for Leipsic this season, he did the bulk of his damage on the power play. Seven of Leipsic’s 10 points last month came with the man advantage, including the helper below, to give him a league-leading 11 power play assists.
Kasperi Kapanen, 20, RW
Drafted: First round, 22nd overall, 2014 (Pittsburgh)
Season to date: 19 GP | 9 G | 8 A | 17 P | +3
It took Kasperi Kapanen only 16 games to accomplish what he did in 44 games last season.
With four goals in November, Kapanen now has nine goals on the year to match his total from his rookie season. He is tied for the team lead with Byron Froese and is two back of the league-leader.
And it’s not just that he’s scoring more, but how he’s scoring them (the second goal in the video below is particularly impressive).
He is just a much more dangerous and confident player with the puck on his stick than he was a year ago.
Andrew Nielsen, 19, LD
Drafted: Third round, 65th overall, 2015
Season to date: 19 GP | 5 G | 8 A | 13 P | -5
Andrew Nielsen came down to earth a bit in his second month of pro hockey after making things look easy out of the gate. That’s not to say he played poorly. With five points (four on the man advantage) he continues to be a key contributor offensively, but he’s struggled at times in his own zone as he adjusts on the fly to the challenges of the pro game.
Still, his five goals are one off the pace among all defenders and his 13 points are good for fourth among all rookie blue-liners.
Andreas Johnsson, 21, RW
Drafted: Seventh round, 202nd overall, 2013
Season to date: 19 GP | 4 G | 4 A | 8 P | +3
Andreas Johnsson matched his production from October with another four-point month in November.
With his goal on Tuesday against Lehigh Valley, Johnsson snapped a 15-game goalless drought that dated back to the second game of the season. The slick forward has the fourth most points among forwards on the Marlies, but he’s still trying to find a level of consistency that allows him to make an impact when the bounces aren’t going his way.
Jeremy Bracco, 19, RW, Kitchener Rangers
Drafted: Second round, 61st overall, 2015
Season to date: 23 GP | 16 G | 30 A | 46 P | +12
Jeremy Bracco cannot be stopped right now … literally.
Not only did Bracco tear it up again in November with seven goals and 21 points in 11 games, he has yet to be shut out in 23 games this season. His lengthy streak has already surpassed last year’s longest run of 21 games, set by Toronto’s Mitch Marner and Bracco’s former Kitchener teammate Ryan MacInnis.
And while Bracco has always had elite playmaking abilities (see below), he’s become much more effective as a shooter this year and is only five goals back of matching his total from last season.
Bracco also picked up his second player of the week award after registering 10 points over a four-game stretch. He’ll be a lock to make the U.S. world junior squad after being one of the final cuts a year ago.
Nikita Korostelev, 19, RW, Sarnia Sting
Drafted: Seventh round, 185th overall, 2015
Season to date: 25 GP | 15 G | 14 A | 29 P | -5
There was no way Nikita Korostelev was going to maintain his early-season scoring pace, and he predictably cooled off a bit in November.
After starting the month with three goals in his first four games, Korostelev has failed to find the back of the net over his last eight.
The Sarnia winger ended November with three goals and 10 points in 11 games while earning an invitation to Russia’s world junior camp.
J.J. Piccinich, 20, London Knights
Drafted: Fourth round, 103rd overall, 2016
Season to date: 24 GP | 10 G | 19 A | 29 P | +7
J.J. Piccinich doesn’t have the pedigree or potential of some of the team’s more promising prospects, but he has been a key contributor for the London Knights this year.
After being named London’s captain on Nov. 11, Piccinich responded with a two-goal, four-point effort to kick off a string of five straight multi-point games. He went on to finish the month with five goals and 11 assists in 12 games.
His future with the team isn’t hinged on his offensive skill set, however. Piccinich has decent offensive tools, but his greatest assets are a relentless work ethic and strong defensive game — a big reason why coach Dale Hunter chose him to wear the C.
Adam Brooks, 20, C, Regina Pats
Drafted: Fourth round, 92nd overall, 2016
Season to date: 17 GP | 9 G | 29 A | 38 P | +20
It didn’t take long for Adam Brooks to shoot up the WHL scoring leaders list.
With a ludicrous 26 points in 10 games in November, earning him player of the month honours, Brooks now sits sixth in league scoring despite only playing 17 games. He’s now chugging along at a 2.24 points-per-game clip, which if sustained would be the highest since Hnat Domenichelli’s 2.39 mark with Kamloops in 1995-96.
Like Bracco, Brooks has yet to be held off the score sheet this season. Not surprising when you’re making plays like this:
Martins Dzierkals, 19, RW, Rouyn-Noranda Huskies
Drafted: Third round, 68th overall, 2015
Season to date: 22 GP | 12 G | 15 A | 27 P | +15
November started well for Martins Dzierkals before an ankle injury slowed down the speedy winger.
Dzierkals began the month by recording a point in seven straight games before suffering the injury, returning for a game six days later, and then winding up back on the sidelines for Rouyn-Noranda’s last three contests.
Assuming he’s healthy, the Latvian will get the chance to lead his country at the world juniors.
Yegor Korshkov, 20, RW, Yaroslavl Lokomotiv
Drafted: Second round, 31st overall, 2016
Season to date: 35 GP | 6 G | 12 A | 18 P | +3
Yegor Korshkov’s numbers don’t jump off the page, but with another three points in November he remains one of the most productive players his age.
The big winger is second among players aged 20 and under in KHL scoring while averaging just 13 minutes of ice time.
Numbers aside, it’s Korshkov’s physical tools that are the most intriguing. His ability in the clip below to hold off the defender while carrying the puck to the net for a scoring chance is impressive for a kid playing against older competition.
Korshkov’s season took an unfortunate turn on Friday. After scoring his sixth goal of the season in the first period, he broke his leg in a collision with another player.
Carl Grundstrom, 19, RW, Frolunda
Drafted: Second round, 57th overall, 2016
Season to date: 24 GP | 11 G | 2 A | 13 P | +7
Carl Grundstrom is in position to do something no player has ever accomplished in the Swedish Hockey League: Win the goal-scoring title as a teenager. With a pair of two-goal games in November, Grundstrom has increased his season total to 11 for a share of the league lead.
Realistically, there’s almost no chance Grundstrom keeps up this pace — he isn’t your prototypical goal-scorer and is shooting at an unsustainable 20.7 per cent clip.
Maple Leafs fans will get an up-close look at Grundstrom when he suits up for Sweden at the world juniors in Toronto later this month.
Joseph Woll, 18, G, Boston College
Drafted: Third round, 62nd overall, 2016
Season to date: 9-4-1 | 2.33 GAA | .922 SV% | 0 SO
Although he cooled off after a spectacular start to his collegiate career, Joe Woll still ranks among the top goaltenders in the NCAA.
Woll sits 10th in the nation in save percentage (.912) after going 5-2-0 with a 2.54 goals against average in November.
The freshman will also get his chance to shine in Toronto, as he will be vying for the starting job on Team USA along with London Knights’ Tyler Parsons and Boston University’s Jake Oettinger.
Dakota Joshua, 20, C, Ohio State University
Drafted: Fifth round, 128th overall, 2014
Season to date: 14 GP | 2 G | 12 A | 14 P | +4
Dakota Joshua has taken a nice step forward in his sophomore campaign at Ohio State.
After scoring five goals and 17 points in 29 games his rookie year, Joshua has been playing at a point-a-game pace for the high-scoring Buckeyes.
A lot of that production came in November, as the big-bodied centre strung together a five-game point streak and finished the month with seven points in six games.