The Montreal Canadiens prospects at the lower professional levels were unable to gain any post-season playing experience as the Hamilton Bulldogs (AHL) and the Wheeling Nailers (ECHL) failed to qualify for their respective playoffs.
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The Edmonton Oilers had four prospects playing in Europe for the 2012-13 season, the most notable being defensive prospect Oscar Klefbom who, despite being injured for the majority of the 2012-13 season, is one of the Oilers’ most anticipated defensive prospects. The Oilers also have defenseman Erik Gustafsson and a pair of goaltending prospects with Samu Perhonen and Frans Tuohimaa who are both showing signs of potential, although neither are quite blue chip prospects as of yet.
The New Jersey Devils 2012 draft class included seven junior level prospects, the most they have had come out of the CHL and Junior 'A' levels since 2008. With seven of the nine players at the junior level being forwards, the Devils can look ahead to restocking a struggling and low scoring Albany Devils AHL squad that has missed the playoffs three years in a row.
Any team that loses three of its top six defensemen over the course of two seasons is bound to experience some growing pains as the organization looks to reload. While the current Detroit Red Wings roster may feature a blue line in flux, the future looks bright for Detroit's defensive depth. The Red Wings have a number of defensemen in their system that have developed their game a great deal during the 2012-13 season, including some who have already joined the NHL club. Detroit may have fewer forwards playing in the NCAA or Europe than defensemen but that is not an indictment of their quality, as that group features at least two players who appear to be future NHL players.
Drafting is not always an exact science, and scouting is indeed one of the toughest jobs in the world. In 2008, the Anaheim Ducks had a draft you could describe as disappointing. While the franchise hit big with talented blueliners in Jake Gardiner and Justin Schultz, neither would ever don an Anaheim uniform, instead breaking into the NHL with Toronto and Edmonton respectively. The rest of the draft was a mixed bag of busts, project players, and depth acquisitions. While every draft is going to have the aforementioned group, the Ducks had very little to take away from a 2008 NHL Draft class that has produced many NHL players across all rounds.
Despite making the playoffs a few seasons ago, the Colorado Avalanche have been languishing the last few seasons, not fully able to cash in on the promise of their young players. Not only have they struggled on the ice, but they have struggled in the draft as well, lacking the organizational depth that makes the great teams truly great. All that aside, there are players in their system that have stood out a bit above the rest.
There are those who wonder if the Ontario Hockey League is being too liberal with its application of Exceptional Player status. But for the now-17-year-old defenseman who was the second to burst through those now-open floodgates, the key to exceptional status is the ability to be a normal, functioning, part of a junior team.
The following article details the 2012-13 Toronto Maple Leafs Prospect Award winners. Morgan Rielly was the big winner with three awards, while Tony Cameranesi also took home multiple awards. The annual award winners were selected by the author with input from Hockey's Future staff members.