Easton Cowan appears to imply that he's ready to join the Maple Leafs

Mike Armenti
May 18, 2024  (10:46)

Easton Cowan
Photo credit: OHL

Top Maple Leafs prospect Easton Cowan spoke on Saturday about playing on the big stage, dealing with his haters and being ready to "jump to the next level".

During an interview with TSN's Mark Masters, Cowan touched on his incredible run with the London Knights this year, putting up a career high 96 points, followed up by a 34-point performance across 18 games en route to an OHL championship.
Now with the Memorial Cup looming and whatever awaits him beyond that, Cowan revealed that he enjoys the big moments and the spotlight - something that will undoubtedly help him in Toronto next season, if he makes the team out of training camp.
"I love playing on the big stage, obviously TSN, all the cameras... I love it, personally. I love, you know, cameras on you, everyone's watching, it really shows, when the lights are on you, how big you are and how mature you are on and off the ice. I feel like [it helps] a lot to get ready for the next jump to the next level."
-Cowan on the spotlight and potentially making the jump to the NHL
When Cowan was drafted by the Leafs at 28th overall in last year's draft, there were a lot of doubters, as the Strathroy, Ontario native wasn't initially projected to go in the first round. Cowan has always embraced that negative energy and used it to fuel himself to improve. The soon-to-be 19-year-old forward touched on whether he still receives any flak and how he handles those situations.
"There's a lot of haters still. Like there's still a couple out there who find a way to hate on you, and it's funny, but still, there's a lot of lovers - more than there was last year, that's for sure. Haters are gonna hate, it is what it is, and there's going to be people who love you too, which is great. Either way, you've just got to keep working."

Cowan turns 19 on Monday, and there are three trains of thought on what the Leafs should do with him this season. One possibility is that the team exercises some extra patience with him and sends him back to his junior club in London for another year of dominance i the OHL.
The second possibility is that, if he shows well in training camp again, the Leafs could keep him up with the big club and transition him into the NHL as a 19-year-old. He certainly has the skill and the work ethic.
The third idea is a bit of a hybrid in which the Leafs would keep Cowan up for a 9-game trial in the NHL before ultimately sending him back to the London Knights. This would follow a bit of a trend, as the team did something similar with Fraser Minten last season, keeping him up with the team for a couple of weeks following training camp and the pre-season before ultimately sending him back down after a short NHL trial run.
What is the best course of action for Easton Cowan? Time will tell.