Toronto Maple Leafs: Prospects Report
In the past I have taken a look at a few of the Maple Leafs more well known prospects. In this article I will take a look at a few of the lesser known prospects. 2017 draftees Vladislav Kara and Ryan O’Connell as well as 2018 draftee Filip Kral.
Kara was selected by the Maple Leafs in the 4th round of the 2017 draft. He is currently playing in the Kontinetal Hockey League (KHL) on Ak Bars Kazan. This season he has eight points in 23 games for Ak Bars Kazan in the KHL as well as 17 points in 18 games for Bars Kazan of the Vysshaya Hokkeinaya Liga (VHL). The Russian winger stands at six feet, two inches and is one of only a few prospects over six feet in the Maple Leafs system.
Kara is currently unsigned by the Maple Leafs. As a European player the team has until before the 2021 draft to sign him or he becomes a Unrestricted free Agent (UFA). I would like to see Kara come over to North America and get some playing time with the Marlies. I think it would be the next beneficial step in his development. Kara plays more of a power forward role than he does a playmaker. A role not many Maple Leafs players know how to play.
O’Connell is a 2017 7th round pick of the Maple Leafs. He is currently playing in the NCAA for Ohio State University. Like Kara, O’Connell is also unsigned right now. As a prospect playing in college he has up to 30 days after he graduates to sign with the team that drafted him. If he decides not to sign with the Maple Leafs then he’ll become a UFA.
This season O’Connell has four assists in 15 games. He is a good puck carrier and is also good at making an accurate first pass. His strength defensively comes from reading plays, strong body positioning and an active stick. O’Connell is a decent height at six feet one inch, but only weighs 170 pounds. He will need to get bigger to have any shot at making the National Hockey League (NHL).
Kral is a 5th round pick of the Maple Leafs from the 2018 draft. The left shooting defenseman stands at six feet one inch and weighs 172 pounds. He is currently playing in his third season with the Spokane Chiefs in the Western Hockey League (WHL). Kral has 10 goals and 26 assists for 36 points in 36 games this season. That matches his points total from last season, but in 11 fewer games played.
There are many things to like about Kral’s style of play. He is a great skater both with and without the puck. Defensively he is good at breaking up plays and clogging up the passing lanes. Offensively he shows great control with the puck during zone entries. He also shows great patience and vision with his shooting and passing. I hope to see Kral playing with the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League (AHL) next season.
Final Thoughts on These Maple Leafs Prospects
For one reason or another all three prospects are currently unsigned. That should not be a big shock as many drafted players do not get signed right away. I think Filip Kral will be the first to sign. I believe the Maple Leafs will sign him to a two way contract this summer. As for Ryan O’Connell, we’ll have to wait until the end of the 2020/21 season when he finishes at Ohio State. The dark horse out of these three is Vladislav Kara. He has stated that he wants to play in the NHL, but no one knows how committed he is to playing with the maple Leafs.
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