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Maple Leafs Might Have Another Late-Round Gem in Tverberg

Ryan Tverberg University of Connecticut

After dominating the headlines during their busiest trade deadline in recent memory, the Toronto Maple Leafs broke the post-deadline silence with their first transaction since March 3. On March 15, they announced the signing of forward Ryan Tverberg to a three-year, entry-level contract. 

A seventh-round pick in 2020, the Richmond Hill native was drafted while playing for the Toronto Jr. Canadiens of the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) and took the unconventional route of playing college hockey in the United States rather than in the Canadian Hockey League (CHL).

Ryan Tverberg, University of Connecticut (Image courtesy of UConn Athletic Communications)

If you’re not a prospect guru, you might not know who Tverberg is. But, in a season where Maple Leafs fans got some of their first looks at prospects drafted during the Kyle Dubas regime such as Pontus Holmberg, Filip Kral, and Mac Hollowell, he could be one of the next players to get his shot, even if it’s in a limited role to start. 

From Seventh-Round Pick to World Junior Final Cut

Dubas is known for trading down in his drafts to try and gain as much draft capital as possible. So, when he trades up or into a round the Maple Leafs previously didn’t have any picks in, it catches your attention. They did that in 2018, trading a sixth-round pick in 2019 to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for a 2018 sixth-round pick, and used it to select Holmberg. It was the same story at the 2020 Draft, as they traded a seventh-round pick in 2021 to the Boston Bruins in exchange for the seventh-round pick used to select Tverberg in 2020. 

As I mentioned earlier, Tverberg spent his draft year playing in the OJHL, tallying 51 points in 47 games. You usually don’t find too many OJHL players in the draft, so when they selected him, I remember just assuming Dubas knew something everyone else didn’t, especially since they went out of their way to trade for that pick. You don’t make a trade like that unless you have your eye on a specific player.

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Three seasons later, it’s looking like Dubas was onto something. Committed to the University of Connecticut of the NCAA, Tverberg tallied seven points in 14 games in his limited 2020-21 season, and truly broke out the following year. In 2021-22, he led his team in goals and finished second in points, with 14 goals and 32 points in 36 games. His performance was good enough to earn him a look at Team Canada’s World Junior Selection Camp, where he ended up being the final…

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