Now that the 2021 World Junior Championship is over, I will take a look at all six prospects the Toronto Maple Leafs had in the tournament.
Toronto had three prospects on Team Russia who finished in 4th place after losing the bronze medal game. They also had three prospects on Team Finland who beat Team Russia to win the Bronze Medal.
Overall, all six Toronto prospects did well at the tournament this year. Which is a good sign for the future of the team. The two prospects who stood out the most for me were Rodion Amirov from Team Russia and Topi Niemelä from Team Finland.
The future for both of those prospects looks really good and I can’t wait to see them in a Maple Leafs uniform.
Leafs Prospects: Team Russia
Rodion Amirov: Toronto’s Newest First-Round Pick
Amirov is Toronto’s newest first-round pick after being selected 15th overall in the 2020 NHL draft. He had a great tournament for Russia by scoring two goals and four assists for six points in seven games.
He will now return home to Russia and continue his season with Salavat Yulaev Ufa in the KHL. So far this season he has five goals and three assists for eight points in 23 games for his KHL team.
Mikhail Abramov: Disappointing Tournament for Russia
Mikhail Abramov is a fourth-round draft pick of the Maple Leafs from 2019. He had a decent tournament but did not play in every game. Abramov recorded just two assists in four games for the Russians. I was expecting Abramov to be one of Team Russia’s top players at this tournament, so his numbers are a little disappointing.
He will now return to Quebec where he is playing for the Victoriaville Tigres of the QMJHL as team captain. So far this season he has four goals and 10 assists for 14 points in nine games for the Tigres.
Artur Akhtyamov: Backup Goalie for Russia Only Saw One Game
Artur Akhtyamov is a fourth-round pick by Toronto from the 2020 NHL draft. At this tournament he was the back-up goaltender for Russia, so he only played in one game. That game was a 7-1 win over Team Austria where Akhtyamov stopped 17 or 18 shots against. He finished the game with a 1.00 GAA and a .944 SV%.
He will now return to either Bars Kazan of the VHL or AK Bars Kazan of the KHL. In the KHL he has a 2.90 GAA and a .904 SV% in three games. His VHL numbers are much better with a 1.58 GAA and a .935 SV% in eight games.
Leafs Prospects: Team Finland
Topi Niemelä: Two Goals and Six Assists A Good Sign for Maple Leafs
Niemelä was selected 64th overall by the Leafs in the third round of the 2020 NHL draft. During this 2020 World Junior Championship, Niemela recorded two goals and six assists for eight points in seven games. Good enough to be named the best defenseman of the tournament.
He will now return home to Finland and continue his season with Karpat in the Finnish Elite League. So far this season he has three assists in nine games in his second season on the Men’s team.
Mikko Kokkonen: Late Maple Leafs Pick Showed Good Defensive Tournament
Mikko Kokkonen is a third-round pick that Toronto selected 84th overall in 2019. He only had one assist in this tournament but played a very good defensive game through all seven games to help Finland win the bronze medal.
Kokkonen will be returning to Finland to continue his season with Jukurit in the Finnish Elite League. He has three assists in 18 games for Jukurit this season serving as an alternate captain.
Roni Hirvonen: Six Points in Seven Games A Good Sign For Maple Leafs
Roni Hirvonen is a second-round pick of the Leafs selected 59th overall in the 2020 NHL draft. He had a good tournament with two goals and four assists for six points in seven games.
Hirvonen will be returning to Finland to continue his season with Assat in the Finnish Elite League. He has five goals and four assists for nine points in 21 games so far this season.
Final Thoughts On Leafs Prospects
It was nice to see Toronto have so many prospects taking part in this great tournament. Some played better than others, but they all played really well. The future is bright for the Leafs if they keep drafting as well as they have been.