Top Maple Leafs prospect Easton Cowan officially up for OHL MVP

Mike Armenti
April 2, 2024  (11:09)

Easton Cowan takes a lap with the London Knights during warmups
Photo credit: Natalie Shaver/OHL Images

Toronto Maple Leafs top prospect Easton Cowan has officially been nominated for the Red Tilson Trophy, an award presented to the OHL's regular season MVP.

The London Knights were elated to make the announcement on Monday, sharing an image of Cowan to Twitter/X with the caption "Our MVP", celebrating a successful campaign from the OHL standout, during which Cowan has racked up 96 points in just his second full season.
Cowan's historic 36-game point streak with the Knights this season received a lot of attention, with the only players in the CHL since 2000 with a longer streak being Sidney Crosby (37) and Alexander Radulov (50). To top that off, Cowan has also put up the 2nd best points-per-game rating in the OHL this season, behind only Sudbury Wolves forward Quentin Musty, who was drafted two spots earlier than Cowan, going 26th overall to the San Jose Sharks in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft.

Easton Cowan has been a nice underdog story this year.

When the Leafs stepped up to the podium on June 28th, 2023 in Nashville, I don't think anyone was sitting there thinking "they're going to take Easton Cowan". In fact, when they made the pick, there were a lot of puzzled looks and raised eyebrows. However, nearly 10 months later, I'm sure everyone in Toronto is glad that Brad Treliving, Wes Clark and company opted to select the feisty forward, who was recently referred to as a modern-day Darcy Tucker.
Not only did Cowan acquit himself well during his first NHL training camp, the 18-year-old from Mount Brydges, Ontario was actually a training camp standout, showcasing his tremendous work ethic, beautiful edge-work, heads up play and relentless engine day in and day out. Sheldon Keefe was among his biggest fans in camp, stating that the original expectation was to have Cowan be among the first wave of cuts. However, with how well Cowan had played and the work he had been putting in, the team opted to give him an extended look at camp, based purely on the fact that he had earned it. While many felt as though he did enough to earn a roster spot, the best decision for his overall development was to send him down. Thankfully, it has worked out famously for the young forward.
Cowan was not originally on anyone's radar for the 2023-24 Canadian World Junior team, but with how well he played from October-December, there weren't a lot of surprised faces around when he was actually named to Team Canada, along with fellow Leafs prospect Fraser Minten, for the World Junior Championship tournament in Sweden. Despite only registering 2 points in the tournament, Cowan actually played quite well in the role he was cast, largely taking on the defensive responsibilities among the forward group, including seeing a lot of time on the penalty kill for Team Canada. Despite a disappointing finish for Canada, the experience was immensely important for Cowan and it only fueled him more when he returned from the tournament and re-joined the Knights.
Cowan may be outside of the top-5 in points in the OHL, but having played just 54 games this season is the primary contributing factor. By points per game, as mentioned above, Cowan would be sitting 2nd in league scoring had he played as many games as David Goyette and Anthony Romani, who have played 68 games apiece and have put up 117 points and 111 points, respectively.

While Easton Cowan is up for the Red Tilson Trophy, he's facing some stiff competition to actually win the award.

With each team in the OHL being able to nominate one player, there's an extensive list of deserving players up for the Red Tilson Trophy this year. Obviously, we know that Cowan is the nominee from London. If you're curious to know who the other 19 players are, click here for a full list of 2024 Red Tilson Trophy nominees, as outlined by The Hockey News' Joely Stockl.
Of course, the aforementioned Goyette and Romani are among the leading candidates, as is Musty. However, none of these players tallied points in 36 straight games this season, which could give Cowan a bit of an edge.
Interestingly enough, there are two other nominees who are up for the Red Tilson Trophy who have ties with the Maple Leafs as well, as both Pano Fimis (Erie Otters) and Beau Jelsma (Barrie Colts) were Leafs summer development camp invitees last year. Jelsma finished 18th in points in the OHL this season, amassing 37 goals and 81 points in 67 games with Barrie, while Fimis finished 27th with 25 goals and 76 points in 68 games.
If Cowan is successful in winning the Red Tilson Trophy this season, he'll be in some pretty elite company, as players like Jordan Kyrou, Alex DeBrincat, Mitch Marner, Connor McDavid, Tyler Seguin, John Tavares and Corey Perry are also among those who have won the award in the past. Some of the more recent winners include New York Islanders prospect Matthew Maggio, Dallas Stars forward Wyatt Johnson, Minnesota Wild forward Marco Rossi and Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen.
Cowan's future appears extremely bright. Not only has he already stood out in an NHL training camp, but he has shown this season that he is a very coachable player who adapts quickly and applies what he learns to his game. His performance this season is evidence of that. The question is, will he show the Leafs that he's ready to turn pro this fall, or is he destined for another year in junior, where he's already shown that he's likely a little too good for that level of competition?
All eyes will be on Cowan in the OHL Playoffs, as the London Knights standout will be looking to build on his incredible regular season and hopefully surpass his previous career high of 21 playoff points, which he had produced over 20 playoff games last year. If he has another big showing in the playoffs, we could see this kid pulling a Leafs jersey over his head on opening night in 2024-25.
2 AVRIL   |   280 ANSWERS
Top Maple Leafs prospect Easton Cowan officially up for OHL MVP

Will Easton Cowan win the Red Tilson Trophy, awarded to the OHL's regular season MVP?

Yes24487.1 %
No3612.9 %
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