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Expectations for Leafs Prospect Rodion Amirov at 2021 World Juniors

Rodion Amirov should one of the Maple Leafs standouts at the World Junior Championships. What can fans expect as part of Team Russia?

Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas has assembled a strong cast of young prospects who have come the organization’s way via the NHL draft. Many of these players will be on display at the 2021 World Junior Championships in Edmonton over the next couple of weeks. The tournament features six Leafs prospects, more than any NHL playoff team in 2020.

Related: What the Maple Leafs Prospect Pipeline Tells Us About the Future

We’ll look at a couple of those prospects over the next two days but one notable player worth keeping your eyes on in Rodion Amirov. Based on comments from Maple Leafs director of amateur scouting John Lilley, he might be the top Maple Leafs player to watch.

Rodion Amirov Should Excel at WJC

Amirov will be playing for Team Russia and was a first-round draft choice of the Maple Leafs in 2020. He was selected 15th overall and he’s expected to play a major factor in the Russian’s success.

Amirov is skilled winger that can make defenders look silly. He’s got a strong wrist shot and should be used heavily on the team’s power play and for many Leafs fans who don’t know him well, this should be their first really good look at him. He’ll be skating on Russia’s top line line with 2019 first-round pick Vasily Podkolzin and 2020 second-round pick Marat Khusnutdinov.

Lilley notes that the Leafs are hoping this tournament is a real confidence booster for the young man. He was named the best forward at the 2020 Karjala Cup but if she shows well at the World Juniors, he could quickly take the next step.

Rodion Amirov Maple Leafs KHL

His gap control and defensive body positioning need work before he’s NHL ready, but as Dobber Prosepcts writes:

“The wide-open style and lack of defensive structure of junior hockey allow creative, fleet-footed players such as Amirov the freedom to improvise and attack with quick-strike, rush offense. With his agile maneuvers in the offensive zone, he should also be a threat to beat opponents one-on-one and create enough separation for high-quality shot attempts.”

Amirov Needs to Take the Next Step

Lilley notes Amirov is improving in the areas in which he struggles. He says, “He’s been responsible and improved his play away from the puck and his defensive responsibilities.” and in Ufa, the focus has been in improving his defensive play.

He could see some time with the Leafs this season but his KHL coaches suggest one more season in Russia is the best way to go. We’ll see if his tournament production convinces Dubas he’s ready now.

Next: Edmonton Oilers News & Rumors: Bear, Klefbom, Draisaitl & Broberg

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