Viktor Loov. 6’3, 200 pounds and hits like a truck. This is where you will say “oh man, here he goes again with his big, hard hitting defensemen”.
Yes Loov can hit, in addition to that he is one of the better skating Marlies and at 22 years old it is time for him to make the jump to the NHL. Of course this promotion will depend on Training Camp,(when does that begin again?) but as of right now, I feel that Viktor Loov could be a 5/6 pairing Maple Leaf as early as the 2015-16 season. After watching Loov live, I am more than impressed with his first three steps as he accelerates with the puck. Loov’s skating is fluid in nature and seems to be the type of player that has effortless strides whereas some players really have to force their skating stride to get up to speed.
Assistant GM, Kyle Dubas, spoke of players taking spots. Dubas mentioned, not promoting players until they are absolutely ready to play in the NHL on a fulltime basis. Viktor Loov is ready for that. Loov’s personality, his on-ice performance, and ability to separate a player from the puck is second to none with the Marlies. I truly believe Loov will earn that bottom pairing assignment on the Toronto Maple Leafs this fall.
Drafted 209th during the 2012 Draft, not many scouts or fans gave this native of Södertälje, Sweden much of a chance to make an impact within this organization. Just 3 years later, Loov might be the most well rounded defensive prospect we have.
With 6 goals and 15 assists for 21 points in his 74 game rookie season in the AHL, Loov has started to learn when to pick his spots for hitting and when to rush up ice with the puck. In Sweden, Loov skated more east/west and had a tendency to dance with the puck. After discussions (maybe some stern in nature) Loov has learned to skate in straight lines, when to make a simple first pass out of his own zone, and distinguishing when to get shots on net versus passing to start a cycle. The Left shooting Defenseman also posted a solid plus 15 during his rookie campaign that showed he is not only adept at getting on the score sheet in a positive manner, but recognizing his responsibilities in his own zone too.
With 44 PIMs in the AHL it comes as no surprise that the 200 pounder loves to catch people skating with their head down to make a hit. Loov is gaining a reputation as a player that will not only hit you, but will punish you. Loov was suspended during the 2015 Marlies Playoffs run for a hit that many (including Coach Dineen) thought was legal but with the helmet coming off the player hit, made it look much worse that it was.
WARNING TO OPPOSING PLAYERS: I strongly suggest, keeping your head up when crossing the Marlies blue line with the puck.
I understand that many fans who haven’t watched the Marlies will say “dont rush this kid”. I agree, in not rushing a prospect. However, I do believe in developing a prospect. Flying under the radar is almost impossible in the Toronto market but with the addition of fellow Swede, William Nylander last year and other rookies like Connor Brown, Viktor Loov did just that. The talented first year AHLer’s game has grown without much fanfare and for me (and the Leafs organization) that is just fine.
In my opinion, there will be very little for this good natured Swedish prospect to learn in the AHL that he hasn’t learned already. Certain players develop faster than others. Some never at all. This fall after the Toronto Maple Leafs Training Camp has concluded, Viktor Loov may be put on the NHL roster and he won’t be moved off it for many years to come.