Welcome to the Bench: Viktor Loov
Born: 11/16/1992 (23 years old) Sodertalje, Sweden
Drafted: 7th round (209th overall) in 2012 by Toronto Maple Leafs
Teams: Toronto Maple Leafs (2016)
Weight: 200 lbs
February 18, 2016 the Toronto Maple Leafs called up Viktor Loov on an emergency basis.
What he brings to the team
Viktor Loov (pronounced Love) was called up last Thursday to replace the injured Matt Hunwick. After the Leafs dealt Polak to the Sharks today, it is starting to look like Loov might be here to stay–at least for this year. As of right now he is skating on the third pairing with fellow Marlies alumni defenseman Stuart Percy.
Loov’s big 6 foot 3 frame and fast skating has made him a Youtube highlight reel of bone crushing hits. As a young Swedish player learning the North American game, he is stilling learning to not cross the thin line that results penalties and suspensions.
That’s the power of Loov!
I’ll show myself to the door.
Loov has garnered some comparison’s to Swedish defenseman Niklas Kronwall, but I find that highly unlikely. A stronger comparison can be made to the game style of the brick wall that is Radko Gudas. This preseason he had worked his way up to 16th overall on Pension Plan Puppets annual Top 25 Under 25 player rankings, with one analyst ranking him as high as 10th overall. Any sort of relevant NHL career will be a win for the former seventh round draft pick.
Why he’s on the bench
Viktor is a pretty limited prospect. Thus far he has been pretty unremarkable when it comes to his offensive game. His hard hits and shutdown potential has helped him work his way through the system and surpass many prospects drafted ahead of him. Loov’s game could carve out a nice career as a third pairing, stay at home defenseman.
While he isn’t the most exciting prospect, Loov’s emergence marks an important shift in the Leaf’s philosophy. After years of overpaying for third pairing guys like Hal Gill, Mike Van Ryn and Jeff Finger, the Leafs are finally starting to fill these roles with cheap, farm-developed players.
Loov and Percy might have been drafted under the Brian Burke brass, it speaks volumes to the current regime for committing to these guys–even if it’s out of necessity. If Shanahan and company can start to draft and develop role players, it will help them build a consistent and sustainable winner. Teams like Chicago and Detroit wouldn’t be the consistent winners they have been if they weren’t so talented at surrounding their high-paid core with cheap, homegrown talent.